The genus Allium (TOW)

Diane Whitehead
Tue, 04 Mar 2003 17:36:01 PST
This will be a quick message because I'm going out to a talk by Janis 
Ruksans.  I went to three talks by him on the weekend at a Winter 
Study Weekend in Vancouver - one on Junos, one on Corydalis, and one 
on increasing bulbs that don't do it themselves - mostly frits, and 
then he came over to Victoria to look  at gardens and give another 
talk on Central Asian bulbs.

The alliums that grow best for me and that I really appreciate are 
the culinary ones.  The first to bloom are several colours of giant 
chives.  I use the flowers in salads, but try to save some of the 
darkest ones to set seed. The bushy plants grow as a miniature hedge 
along the vegetable area.  I could keep the neighbourhood in chives. 
They are dormant for a couple of months in winter, but are 
full-height now, though not yet in flower.

Next are several nodding Allium cernuum which are decorative because 
they also keep their green leaves during the summer.

Leeks that didn't get eaten during the winter send up their big balls 
of flowers during the summer.  They are paler than the expensive 
ornamental giants sold by the Dutch companies, but the form of the 
plant is as good, and the flowers are just as exciting to the bees.

And then come the white flowered Chinese chives, Allium tuberosum.

I have garlic all over the garden.  I've been told to cut off the 
head of bulbils so the underground cloves will grow larger.  I do it 
with some, but the curved necks are cute, like long-necked birds, so 
I leave some.  Then as I harvest garlic, the little bulbils launch 
themselves into flower beds all the way along the path, and I never 
know where till the next summer.

Diane Whitehead  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter - 68 cm annually)
sandy soil

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