This month has been all about bulbs (and updating my rusty web-editing skills). the allure of alliums has always eluded me. I think because they look too much like agapanthus, a plant that I have never liked. It thrives on small islands, I don’t.

Piet Oudolf, on the other hand, appears to have a passion for alliums. Research for an upcoming feature involved talking though one of his bulb planting plans for a newly created garden. As I digested the vast reams of information, it dawned on me that in June, this is going to be all about the alliums. In a garden that has been designed to peak in late-summer, his go to plant for June, is the allium.

Intrigued, I have decided to blatantly copy his taste in my garden. Alongside the lasagna-planted pots of tulips, see below, I have bought bags of alliums. I should have put them in the ground in autumn, so they are going in late, but with a following wind, and as long as we don’t have another horribly wet winter, they may come up next year. The types I have gone for were partly dictated by what was left at the lovely Avon Bulbs (local bulb experts and retailer), but I also chose the types to give a good understanding of the plants.

For structure and exclamation points I have chosen Cristophii, which I am planning to have hovering over a drift of Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriedland’. Globemaster is destined for massive pots, even with a big pot I think only one bulb will fit. Allium caerulea will go into some smaller pots, densely planted for maximum impact.

A key consideration with alliums is that after flowering, the flower heads, the globes, look great, and add interesting structure even when all colour has gone. The foliage is another matter, it looks very tired, very quickly. I am planning to disguise this with the salvia, and will just rotate the pots somewhere for the foliage to die down naturally, taking all the energy back into the bulb for winter storage.

  • Tulips for pots this year: Jan Reus, a deep-maroon beauty, White Parrot, crinkly purity, and a few I have never used before, the early-flowering Pink Diamond, Paul Scherer, a late-flowering deep purple-black, and May-flowering, pinky-blue, Bleu Amiable.

For the first time I am planting them, lasagna style into large, 50cm, plastic pots, which will be put inside larger terracotta ones. The plan is to rotate the pot planting next year with first tulips, then alliums, then, possibly, dahlias. I have never managed to create attractive pots for all year interest. The rotation seems wasteful, but I tip potting compost onto the beds once I am finished with the pots.

Anyone got any thoughts on how to keep pots interesting every season?


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