Thursday’s Feature: Allium flavum ssp. tauricum

This week’s feature is a mouthful, one unlikely to be spoken while browsing the plant racks at Home Depot or even on the tables of your better nurseries.  It’s not particularly showy or amazing, but all the same it’s showy and amazing and I’m glad to have it here in the garden.

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Allium flavum ssp tauricum, a range of pastel flower colors as well as a range of foliage colors, from straight green to blue-gray.

This small, summer blooming allium is one of those onions which may surprise gardeners who typically think of flowering onions as mostly purple, and mostly late spring bloomers, but here it is in all its early summer, pastel tones.  Mine came via the North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange (another mouthful) and were labeled “ex McDonough”.  For those of you not in the onion know,  Mark McDonough is the onion man, essentially a global authority on all things allium and if you’re interested he hosts a website called PlantBuzz to which I heartily recommend a visit.  If you can’t find anything interesting on his site I’m going to guess you stopped reading my post after the first few sentences, but if you’re still with me give it a click… if only to look at wonder upon the different forms of even something as simple as chives!

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Another view, same clump…. Allium flavum ssp tauricum ex McDonough.  I feel like my onions have quite the pedigree 🙂

Regular plain old Allium flavum (yellow onion) doesn’t have the range of pale, pink, and rusty tones which the subspecies tauricum shows, but I think they’re both equally easy to grow.  Mine were planted in February of 2013, the pot went outdoors and the seeds came up that spring.  The first flowers showed the year after and other than digging and spreading the clump out a bit two years ago they’ve been plugging along in a full sun spot ever since with no help from me.

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Last year’s seedlings blooming for the first time… less diverse, but still nice!

For as easy to grow as they are you would think they could be a pest, but I have yet to see a single seedling come up on its own.  They just politely do their thing and all I do is clean up a few dead leaves and flower stems once flowering is finished… they are an evergreen onion, so there’s some foliage all year even after things die down a bit in August.

Keep your eyes open for A. flavum ssp tauricum and grab it if you have the chance.  Also if you have the chance, give Cosmos and Cleome a visit to see what Kimberly and other bloggers are featuring this Thursday.  Each week she encourages us to focus on a single plant and it’s fun seeing which favorites show up on other gardener’s blogs  You’re more than welcome to join, and if you do leave a link on Kimberley’s blog so we can come find you!

Thursday’s Feature: Delphinium

This Thursday it’s all about flowers.  For as much as I love throwing in questionable photos of borderline weedy plants or offensively tacky color clashes, even I have to brag a little now and then when something goes right.  The tall hybrid delphiniums don’t like my garden or me but this one seems to have resigned itself to its fate and has come to an agreement with my garden.  It’s beautiful and although I can take little credit for that at least the pictures are pretty.

purple delphinium

Purple delphinium

Four years ago it was love at first sight when I came across a little pot with a fat plant and a solid stem just starting to sprout up into a bloom stalk.  I thought to myself “even I can’t screw this up, and it’s going to be amazing”, so onto the cart it went and the rest is history.

purple delphinium

Another view 🙂

These tall delphinium hybrids love a perfectly rich soil in a sheltered spot with steady moisture and shelter from the worst of the weather.  They do better in cooler, fairer climates and don’t like drought, heat, humidity, storms, drying winds, children playing, large pets, neglect, stray hoses, clumsy gardeners… essentially everything that my garden represents… but this one carries on.  2016 has been a lean year for it since I’m trying something new (less fertilizer and no staking) but the show is still nice enough.

purple delphinium

A wider view of the clump shows smaller bloom heads and yellowing lower leaves which resulted from a leaner diet, but I also haven’t staked the flowers and they are holding up reasonably well to the wind.

But you don’t care about lean, anemic delphinium plants.  A Thursday feature is fun so here are photos from last year when the fertilizer was flowing and the party really took off!

purple delphinium

Sorry about the bicycle in the background….

This one clump which survives (trust me I’ve killed my fair share of these) is on a slope in morning sun near the hose… which means it gets a sprinkle whenever the water goes on.

purple delphinium

…and oops about the sign.

-but prepare yourself for heartbreak if you give these a try.  Three out of four years a storm cell will pummel your garden just as the delphinium reaches its peak, and little in the way of staking will help the heavy blooms.  On the plus side they make an excellent cut flower (if you have room for two to three foot flower stalks in your arrangement), but on the down side it’s depressing to say the least.

purple delphinium

Delphiniums after the storm.

Few things are fun without a little effort and risk, so give them a try and see where you end up.  While I go on to ponder the possibilities of growing these in a classy walled garden with the perfect soil, you may want to check out a few other feature plants to fill your Thursday.  Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome hosts each week so give her blog a visit to see what she and others have featured this week.

Enjoy!