Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Daily DuBrule

The nodding onion (Allium cernum) is one of my new favorite plants
Day 14

Native plants are so much fun right now. I've been incorporating native plants into my garden designs forever. I knew quite a few in the early days, but in the past five years, my palette has expanded a LOT. Allium cernum is one of my new favorites!

First of all, I adore Alliums of all sorts. From bulbs you plant in the fall, to herbaceous perennials that bloom in the summer and autumn, I guess you could call me an Allium addict. I planted the nodding onion in my courtyard where there is excellent drainage (I had removed a swimming pool so think 40 yards of fill, 10 yards of topsoil), it's REALLY hot, and I want to keep it simple. It is growing up through Sedum 'Bertram Anderson', a burgundy sprawling ground cover type sedum that shows it off perfectly.

The buds form in July and they dangle downwards, thus the common name. As they begin to swell, the paper-like sheaths slip off. Out pop these cute little clusters of purple flowers that last for weeks and weeks. It only grows about 12" tall so I have it right in the front of the bed. 

I left the seed pods on to ripen all last fall. I am curious to see if it self sows easily. If I find babies, I am going to scoop them up and make another clump. The flowers are edible, so are the leaves, just like all the other Alliums. Bees love them and I can sit on the steps leading down from my deck and watch the action with delight. That is one of the best things about native plants. Not only are they easy to grow, they are really, REALLY good to help build a balanced ecosystem in your yard. It's a win-win for all creatures. 

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