Mark Griffiths Inspiring Plants

Allium caeruleum – one of the "blue onions" this one I bought as dried bulbs. It flowered very well the first year – no flowers since. I don't know if this is due to bulbs being "prepared" or if I'm not growing them well. It dosen't help that they get chewed by the slugs and snails but I will persist and see if I can get them back to flowering as they are quite lovely.

Allium caesium – I bought a bulb of this and it promptly died. I then grew one from seed and from that I have grown further bulbs from it's seed. So far it tends to be a bit tall but that might be a result of growing it under glass. I plan to try some in pots on the patio for the spring after spending winter, summer and autumn in a frame.

Allium sikkimense – I grew this from seed labelled as A.cyaneum. It's a small blue species which can be very attractive. I'm still working exactly what it wants. It usually does well for a couple of seasons after sowing and then seems to get more difficult and fades away. I've no idea why as it has a reputation for being an easy species. Luckily it sets seed well and that usually germinates well so hopefully I'll figure out what it needs soon.

Allium callimischon ssp. haemostictum. This is a small species from Turkey, Greece and Crete. This subspecies is smaller with the flowers marked with dark red brown dots. It flowers in autumn. It has a curious habit, thought to be a defence against goat browsing, in that the flower stems appear as brown stalks as the foliage withers. They remain like that over summer so you have to be careful removing the dead foliage that you don't accidently cut the flowering stalks off.

Allium. This is a huge genus, including the edible species of onions, shallots, chives (itself quite a nice looking plant), garlic, and leeks (a personal favourite), the ramsons of damper woods, the weedy species and a huge number of garden and pot worthy species from around the world. I grow only a few but I'm looking to add a few more to the collection.

'm not sure what organisms the smell of onions is supposed to repel. I assume it must be mainly mammals but I have read that it also repels various "bugs". Clearly in my garden the various pests have not heard this as the slugs have declared the smaller alliums to be "a culinary treat not to be missed" and aphids love Allium sikkimense to destruction.

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