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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Thursday
Oct202011

Allium Alert: About Those Tall Purple Balls.

Allium Purple Sensation http://www.plantparadise.ca/Allium_Purple_Sensation.html

 Price sticker shock is what happens when unsuspecting gardeners attempt to purchase the impressive Allium bulbs known as Gigantium or Globemaster. The cost per bulb is high. Now, there is an antidote for this trauma. It is the Allium bulb Purple Sensation, a better-priced, better-valued option.

Allium Purple Sensation in my garden I planted it in my flowerbeds last autumn and the effect in spring, when it came into bloom, was dazzling.

Purple Allium, of any size, flower in shades that are ideal for English-style flower gardens; they will also add depth and richness to hot colored flowerbeds, as one can see above on the cover of Sara Raven's book, The Bold and Brilliant Garden.

http://www.gardenersworld.com/plant-detail/PL30000068/4787/ornamental-onionThe circumference of A. Purple Sensation's flowering sphere [about the size of a tennis ball] is half the size of the larger varieties and its height of three feet places it mid way between A. Gigantium and A. Globemaster. With those technical specs, why pay about $8 to $14 for one giant bulb when 10 Purple Sensation bulbs cost only $10 and give the gardener equally exciting visuals? [Plant Purple Sensation in repeating groups of three or five, or in a serpentine row of five or seven bulbs]. When it flowers, its stately posture and long blooming globes are just as eye catching as their giant cousins.

This affordable variety combines elegant, vertical structure with substantial, rounded forms that, together with its rich coloration, bring exciting novelty to traditional flowerbeds.

http://www.gapphotos.com/featuredetails.asp?featureref=298Furthermore, after the flowering ball has gone to seed, [image above] it continues to add interesting textural form to the garden until mid-summer, when it begins to look scraggly [an appropriate time to cut it down]. Planting Purple Sensation is akin to thinking outside the proverbial box.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/09/planting-alliums-combination-dan-pearsonI am not the only gardener that has stumbled across this marvelous substitute. In an attempt to purchase more Purple Sensation for my clients - because they are all clamoring for those purple balls - I discovered that two of the more prominent bulb sellers in Canada, Veseys and Botanus are now sold-out of this popular bulb. In addition, three significant nurseries in the greater Montreal area, as well as three major big box garden centers, are inventory-depleted of this Allium variety. Clearly, more gardeners - than anyone might have guessed - are discovering this very impressive bargain bulb.

Image: bellewoodgardens.com http://www.bellewood-gardens.com/BelleWood%20in%20Bloom/BelleWood%20in%20Bloom_2006.htmlFortunately, by patiently scrolling through Google, I was able to find another online source here in Canada, called Campbell River Garden Centre, located on the west coast, in British Columbia. They are relatively new to online marketing and I contacted them by phone only because of a technical glitch at check - out. Nevertheless, they had the stock I needed and sent it by mail, only minutes after I called in my order. I am delighted that my three-day, anxious hunt for Purple Sensation has finally ended. I am even more relieved that I can now fill my clients flowerbeds with those tall purple balls at a price that will make them happy.

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Reader Comments (8)

Hi Allan, I agree 'Purple Sensation' is invaluable; I have hundreds in the garden as it tends to seed around. But, 'Globemaster' is worth the extra cost as it holds its colour for a full three weeks with me and the seedheads are also a dramatic feature long into summer. In comparison, 'Purple Sensation' begins to fade after not much longer than a week and the seedheads are whispy. Fill the horizon with 'Purple Sensation' and use 'Globemaster' up front.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael King

Michael.
You make some very valid points and I agree with you about the impact of Globemaster. You are, after all, a published expert in the field of spring flowering bulbs, and I am not embarrassed to report that I learn from you whenever I can.

However, as a garden writer, with a readership that spans cultural and socioeconomic frontiers, I must keep in mind that some serious gardeners have severe budgetary restrictions. Throughout the season, they make heartbreaking choices about what they desire, what they need, and what they can actually afford to purchase. I think about these gardeners constantly when I write because, as a teenage gardener, I was one of them. I will never forget the pain of allocating finite resources, while paging through garden catalogs with infinite temptations.

Thank you for honoring me with a comment. It is most appreciated.

October 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterAllan

I agree totally...and I actually prefer the smaller size of 'Purple Sensation'...at least for my small garden. 'Globemaster' would seem a bit out-of-scale (and dare I say, garish) in my garden. The price is also a BIG factor...I love that I can pop down to the nursery and get 20 PS bulbs for as many dollars. In general, I honestly prefer plants with smaller flowers, rather than a few large, gaudy blooms...but maybe that's just me.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott Weber

The two alliums have different uses. 'Purple Sensation' can be massed and spread around everywhere, not only because it is cheaper, but also because it is tall and narrow and doesn't take up any room. It can also take more shade. 'Globemaster' is more of specimen requiring careful placement either in the front of a bed or in an open space. I saw photos of a garden where once 'globemaster' was done, they spray painted it a complimentary color to the surrounding flowers.

Why does the plant part of my ps look like its dying when my purple globe is in full bloom? Should I be using some sort of plant food?

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Kathy,
No plant food is necessary. When the Allium is in bloom, it's normal for its foliage to turn yellow. To camouflage this unsightliness plant Allium among early blooming perennials.

June 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterAllan

I have planted globe Amranth, although late in the summer, because I had a hard time finding the seed and then getting them purchased from Amazon my parents agreed to purchase them and share them with me when I found them on google images I was excited, because they look like what my grandmother used to grow and called bachelor buttons but sadly I cannot see them from my recliner the blooms are not that big and I was thinking the alium or the sensations would be bigger and that I could see them better but I wonder can you only grow them from a bulb or are there seeds available?

October 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJuneAnn Moss

Bachelor Button is a flower with roots grown from seed; it is not a bulb. Allium is grown from bulbs.

October 16, 2015 | Registered CommenterAllan

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