We have white bluebells in our garden - except that they're not. Our lookalikes are Three-cornered Garlic, Allium triquetrum, a pretty but rather invasive onion introduced to Britain from the Western Mediterranean. They are easily recognised for the stems have a sharply triangular cross-section.
|Chives in our Byfield garden. 1 June, 2014|
One of these is Chives, Allium schoenoprasum. Yes, I know it has culinary applications, but we never use put it to use; perhaps we should. Surprisingly it is a native British plant but confined to the western and northern parts of England and to Wales. Its dainty purple flowers are well worth a place in the garden, and bees love it.
Far more impressive - and equally beloved of bees, - is Allium aflatunense, sometimes sold as Allium hollandicum. At about 60-90 centimetres high it can easily hold its own in a border and makes an impressive cut flower (tip: add a drop of bleach to the water in the vase to control the smell of onions).
I also have a patch of Ramsons, Allium ursinum, in the garden. They were here when we moved in and, although they are hardly spectacular, I allow a few to persist and have introduced a few to Byfield Pocket Park on the grounds that they are native to Northants and, according to Druce's 1930 "Flora of Northamptonshire", occurred in this area at Badby.
|Honey -bells in our garden, Byfield.|
1 May, 2014
In a border I have a few plants of Honey-bells, Nothoscordum gracile. It was once wrongly, due to a misunderstanding, called Allium inodorum and is clearly closely related to onions. It even, despite its specific epithet of inodorum, has an alliaceous smell. I was surprised to learn recently that it is a noxious weed in some parts of the world; for me it behaves nicely. Again, bees love it.
|I have grown this Persian Onion in a pot.|
Byfield, 8 June, 2014
Arguably one of the most spectacular of onions is Allium christophii, sometimes called the Persian Onion. The large globular inflorescence is more open than Allium aflatuense and the "petals" (many botanists play it safe and refer to "perianth segments") are glossy. I grow it in small quantities but when - in maybe 5-6 weeks - we move to a new home, I may make more use of it.
|Allium sphaerocephalum in our garden, Byfield.|
18 July, 2014