Curly Swirly Onions

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Allium schoenoprasum 'Curly Mauve' - leaves emerging    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough Allium schoenoprasum 'Curly Mauve' - ghostly spider-like clumps    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough Allium schoenoprasum 'Curly Mauve' - forest of flower stems    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough

Few people realize that chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is extremely variable, and can be found in
amusing prostrate forms. Most of the prostrate forms I've grown were small, dwarf plants, but since
chive varieties hybridize so readily, over the years I've had some interesting hybrids show up. One
such hybrid is named A. schoenoprasum 'Curly Mauve'.  It's a vigorous growing plant that goes
through a whole series of different growth phases.  In spring, the foliage is extremely flat growing,
with firm curling shoots.  Later, the clumps develop into whimsical jumbles of grayish spider-like
growth that look wonderful when catching morning dew.  Defying the medusan growth habit, a forest
of erect flower stems shoot forth in early summer with ample clusters of pleasing lilac flowers.




Allium senescens 'Blue Eddy'  in morning light    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough Allium senescens 'Blue Eddy'  in afternoon light    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough

Allium senescens 'Blue Eddy'  on a cloudy day    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough

Allium senescens 'Blue Eddy'  flowering on Sept. 9th    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough

Familiar to many gardeners is "Allium senescens glaucum", a
name largely applied to garden grown hybrids of A. senescens
with glaucous swirling foliage. Plants under this name are
extremely variable, actually representing a whole range of
garden hybrids rather than a true botanical taxon.  Recent
studies have concluded that "glaucum" is an invalid epithet,
with the old name A. spirale resurrected, although not
necessarily applying to the familiar "glaucum" of gardens.

I selected a particularly good hybrid seedling with an
especially dwarf habit and fine blue-gray foliage.  It was named
A. senescens 'Blue Eddy'.  The cultivar name is in reference to
the swirls of bluish whirlpools of foliage.  This selection makes
a superb groundcover with delicate poms of light lavender in
September to October.





Allium nutans - leaf pirouettes   copyright  2002 Mark McDonough Allium nutans - heavy twisting foliage   copyright  2002 Mark McDonough Allium nutans - curling ribbed stems    copyright  2002 Mark McDonough

Ah... Allium nutans, the aristocrat of rhizomatous Alliums.  This species is extremely
variable, the best forms with bold waxy foliage, the poorest forms not worth garden space. 

The plant shown above is unnamed, but deserves a proper name... it has
the broadest leathery foliage of any form of A. nutans that I've grown over the years. Not
only that, the foliage displays a beautiful geometric twist, particularly delightful in spring as the
periphery of foliage rosettes resemble dancing pirouettes.  Later, the foliage become massive,
leaden gray and decidedly twisted.  Even the sturdy flower stems are heavily winged and curiously 
coiled while developing.  This selection has large 2-1/2" - 3" spherical balls of white flowers.


All photos by Mark McDonough


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This page was last updated on 04/09/02