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!

All work and no play….

There comes a time each spring when the rush and excitement of the new growing season wears off and the realities from the previous year come back to haunt you.  There will be bugs, there will be snapped stems, the rabbits will eat the lettuce, and you will get hot and sweaty mowing the lawn.  It all seems like a lot of work and all the while the weeds keep growing.  But there’s plenty of magic.  Onions have been entertaining me lately and I’ll start with allium moly “Jeannine”.

allium moly "jeannine"

allium moly “Jeannine” with sedum “Angelina” and a few perovskia seedlings. I like how the one perovskia has much fernier leaves than the other.

For some reason I used to dislike most of the flowering onions and only just recently let a few into the garden.  They seemed kind of weedy and never wowed me…. but I’ve been dabbling.  The big purple ones are a no brainer, and last fall I cracked open the wallet for this one (who’s name I can’t recall at the moment).  Surely a half dozen would have been nicer but gardening funds were short after snowdrop ‘dabbling’.

allium "pinball wizard"

The front border is just coming out of a lull as the daisies and roses fire up.  Allium “Pinball Wizard” (I looked it up) has large blooms on short stems, all out of what I consider the “globemaster” family since they all seem similar to me.

Also new this year is allium nigrum, a ridiculously cheap white allium with good sized blooms on nice stems.  I like it!  The only complaint I have is the season falls right into oxeye daisy season, and the allium blooms are lost among the ‘common’ daisies.

allium nigrumLess impressive is my neglected allium karataviense “ivory queen”.  I like the foliage as much as the actual flowers since they have a cool pleated gray look that reminds me of some fancy South African bulb.

allium karataviense "ivory queen"

You’ll have to trust me on the foliage, it looks better in the weeks coming up to flowering. Plus this little “ivory queen” is just praying for someone to take it away from all this weedy mess.

Not an allium anymore (it’s been reclassified as nectaroscordum siculum) the Sicilian honey garlic is a bit of a floppy mess in my yard.  The stems twist around and then put up these ‘interesting’ blooms for a week or so before dropping back down into flopdom.

nectaroscordium siculum -Sicilian honey garlic

nectaroscordium siculum -Sicilian honey garlic- this glamour shot pulls out many of the subtle highlights of the blooms. The actual garden presence might be a little less than overwhelming…

Can I finish off with an onion from the vegetable patch?  This is allium fistulosum, nebuka evergreen bunching onion.  Supposedly it’s a tasty onion, but I have yet to give it a try.  Instead I’m enjoying the long lasting, fat bloom heads.

nebuka onion

Nebuka onion, another subtle effect but it’s carefree, edible, and fuzzy!

There are a few more onions yet to come, but the lawn still needs mowing and it’s now or never, so off I go.  So much to do, so little time…. and sometimes so little energy 🙂