If anyone asks me about alliums and which to grow I always recommend Allium cristophii (sometimes sold as A. christophii or under the older name of A. albopilosum). It has everything needed in a garden plant: it is commonly available, cheap to buy, easy to grow, is not invasive is showy and attractive to bees, lasts for a long time in bloom and even looks good when dried.
Alliums are increasingly popular and although I love all the tall, drumstick types they can be expensive and you can get ten A. christophii bulbs for the price of one ‘Globemaster’. Not only that but the flowering period of A. christophii is at least three times as long and the heads can be twice as big – easily 25cm across on strong bulbs. And this is a plant that should get better every year and most of mine are taller and bigger than their first show last spring.
It is native to Central Turkey, Iran and is sometimes called star or Persia. it usually grows to about 60cm high with flower heads 20cm across in a lovely metallic lilac shade. It must have full sun and prefers a well drained soil. As soon as the flowers have faded it is a good idea to cut off or pull up the flower stems to dry to keep for winter decoration and this will also prevent self seeding. Seedlings are not much of a problem but they can appear in profusion, looking like grass at first. They will take several years to reach flowering size and will not do so unless they are separated to grow on.
Like most alliums the foliage is pretty tatty by the time the flowers open so it is a good idea to plant through a low shrub such as this curry plant (Helichrysum italicum). The combination of complementary pastel hues and contrasting shapes and textures is lovely and the two plants grow well together.
Something satisfying at last!