Summer flowering Alliums and more

Jane McGary
Sat, 29 Sep 2018 12:35:23 PDT
Please be aware that seeds of many Allium species are donated, often in 
large amounts, to the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) Seed 
Exchange and, I assume, to the Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and Scottish 
Rock Garden Club (SRGC) exchanges. Joining one or more of these 
societies gives you access to thousands of kinds of seeds at very low 
cost. Alliums are one of the easiest genera of bulbs to grow, flowering 
after as little as 2 years. The last two years our NARGS chapter handled 
the "surplus" distribution, the second round where members could order 
up to 100 packets, and there must have been more than 50 species or 
subspecies of Allium in that box (the order filling took place in my 
spare room, so I'm very familiar with it). If Allium were an interest of 
mine, I would have been very happy about that! I do grow a few, 
particularly the small western American species, and a couple of tall 
ones for cutting. Just planted about 60 French Gray shallots in the 
vegetable garden and hope they prosper.

Someone mentioned Allium nigrum as potentially invasive and I'd agree 
with that. It's frequent in cultivated fields where native so must 
spread readily by offsets. The only one I grow that's prone to spread is 
Allium pulchellum, but it is such a pretty cut flower that I keep it in 
an area where it's easily controlled.

Membership in all the international rock garden societies (there are 
more than the three mentioned above) is declining disturbingly, partly 
because of demographics. Another factor is the decision by the US 
government to prohibit the importation of small quantities of garden 
seed without a permit. The permits (thanks largely to the effort of 
Joyce Fingerut of NARGS) can be obtained without cost, but they have to 
be renewed frequently and the procedure is tedious. NARGS has to send 
its permits out to all its foreign members to enable them to donate, and 
people in the USA who belong to AGS or SRGC have to get the permits and 
send them to the societies with their seed orders. The root of this 
annoyance was the move of the US Department of Agriculture to place its 
inspection subdepartment (wonderfully known by the acronym APHIS) in the 
Department of Homeland Security, established newly after the 9-11 
attack; moves of this kind were popular because it allowed the parent 
agencies to transfer the expense of the subdepartments to the 
well-funded DHS. Nonetheless, I encourage our PBS members to join one or 
more rock garden societies, even if you don't have a "rock garden." All 
three have good quarterly print journals and interesting meetings. And 
Allium seeds.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon
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