August in a Massachusetts garden
Mon, 22 Aug 2005 19:28:20 PDT
July-August-September is when many of the rhizomatous alliums put on a 
tremendous bounty of bloom.  My garden is awash in allium bloom at the moment, a 
drift of fragrant spheres in subtle shades of lavender, pink, mauve, white, to 
rose-purple.  This includes a number of species and innumerable hybrids.  The 
mammoth multicolor flowers of hardy Hibiscus (another obsession) coincides with 
the masses of frothy allium bloom.

During hot sunny days, the buzz from the sheer number of pollen-intoxicated 
bees and wasps is really something to behold; it is among my more treasured 
garden associations.  I'd like to share some photos, hastily snapped in the last 
2 days.

Attracted to Allium blooms, and the incredibly sweet-smelling Clethra 'Ruby 
Spice' which scents the entire yard, are some amazing wasps.  There are several 
unique types; they're large to 2" long or more.  One variety is black, with 
irridescent blue wings, and flies in flitting, jumpy movements.  Another 
variety is orange and black, equally large, flitting, and fascinating.  Here are 2 
photos showing an Allium senescens/nutans hybrid with a wasp:……

I've been selected hybrids of Allium senescens & nutans, from open pollinated 
seed, with many other species contributing to the mix.  From Allium nutans, 
we get plants with very large spherical balls of bloom, and I'm selecting those 
seedlings that have bigger and denser flower globes, as well as selecting for 
foliage and plant habit.  On the down side, most nutans hybrids tend to be 
white or very pale, but they are impressive nonetheless.  Here are a couple of 
garden scenes showing some hybrids:……

An Allium nutans hybrid selected for it's stiffly upright habit and short 
green foliage:…

An Allium hybrid with the largest globes so far (to 3" across) that are 
extremely dense, growing large and erect.  The plant has gray foliage.  Drying 
foliage tips is because this plant is growing in pure grit (not apparent as the 
bed is covered with bark mulch).  Has considerable hybridization potential:…

Lots more Allium blooms:……

Allium cernuum 'Oxy White', and pink seedlings from that selection, plus a 
couple bloom heads on an Allium nutans hybrid nearby.…

Regarding hummers, we get daily visits from Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.  They 
visit my alliums, even though the flowers arre pale colors, but what they 
really like are the blue and pink flowers on Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird' and 
'Aphrodite' respectively.  A photo of my favorite hardy hibiscus, 'Blue Bird'.…

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States "New England" USDA Zone 5
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