Not wanting to wish the remains of the summer away, but it’s time to start thinking about planting bulbs if you want a fabulous display next year. Planting isn’t until the autumn, but they’re available now and you get a much wider choice if you’re quick off the mark.
Alliums are one of my favourite bulbs, with their strong, distinctive shape they always look stylish, and they’re good as cut flowers too.
This is Allium scorodoprasum Art, I love the colour and the crazy, random shape of the flower-head.
Allium schubertii looks like an exploding firework, the flower-head reaches 45cm in diameter.
As another bonus the seed-heads are wonderful too, I sprayed one white for the top of my Christmas tree and for the rest of the year it sits in this vase in my hall.
Like all bulbs they’re such good value, the only effort required is planting them and then they obligingly re-appear every year.
This is Allium sphaerocephalum, the drum-stick allium, it starts off this lovely soft green and then produces a purple top.
Nectaroscordum, unlike other alliums it’s happier in semi-shade, it looks lovely as the flower bud fattens up and the blooms gradually emerge.
The plumpest ones produce the best flowers, check that they look healthy with no sign of mildew.
Plant at twice their depth in well-drained soil, in moist but well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy and waterlogged add some grit or fine shingle to the base of the planting hole and place the bulb in the hole with the flattish end of the bulb sitting on the ground.
Let the leaves turn brown after flowering so they have chance to photosynthesize, which fattens up the bulb to flower again next season.
Alliums love a sunny spot in the garden, though Nectaroscordum don’t mind a bit of shade.
Think about where you position the bulbs so the leaves are mostly hidden as they fade.
Stand back and look forward to seeing them nosing their way up through the soil next year ready to flower from May onwards.
all images: Jill Anderson