Garden Design - Alliums

When we moved into our home just over 12 years ago, the garden was very plain - long and narrow with 2 tall hedges down the sides and an old, delapidated shed at the bottom. There were not many plants, apart from a small apple tree stuck in the middle of the lawn, which sort of got in the way (and the apples didn't seem to be edible anyway).  

Some serious redesigning was called for. The idea of a "jungle" garden appealed to us - something that wasn't too neat and tidy, was easy to care for and that would provide interest from the introduction of bold, architectural plants (as long as they were tall and narrow such as Cornish palms and bamboo).  We would introduce a few florals here and there in shades of purple, blue and white to contrast against the various shades of green and to highlight certain areas.  As the garden was narrow with high sides, we wanted a lot of the planting to be narrow but tall to carry the eye upwards.  

Because of these requirements, the first flowers we introduced were alliums.  So that first autumn, I bought some allium bulbs and dotted them around the garden as an experiment to see where they would grow best - some in shady borders, some under trees, some in pots and some in open, sunny positions.  

Maybe it was to do with the type of allium I planted, but wherever I planted them they thrived and have come up year after year.  If I change my mind about where I want them, then I dig them up after flowering and move them somewhere else and they don't seem to mind that either!

The only thing they don't seem to like is snails and slugs - although snails and slugs like them!  But some years the snails and slugs eat the alliums and some years they don't - I have never worked out why this is but this happens to be a year when they have left them well alone so now we have beautiful purple pom-poms dotted around the garden.

The other thing I like about alliums besides their colour is their big and bold, structure.  Not unlike dandelion heads, but with alliums the seed heads stay intact for much longer.  They are beautiful to look at so are often used in flower arrangements but I like them as they are particularly inspirational from a design point of view


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