I call this adaptable:

A mediterranean bulb which will grow beneath deciduous trees in the UK and thrive.

Adam Hodge recently commented on my use of the expression ‘a doer’ for a plant which grows well – we all want happy plants, do we not?

I call Nectaroscordum siculum or Allium siculum as was, an ornamental onion, call it what you will, ‘a doer big time’.

I cadged these bulbs from Lesley, my design partner, the year before last. She grows them in her wood, beneath the dense shade of ashes and sycamores:

I wanted them precisely because of their ability to survive those conditions.

We all take over inheritances in gardens. And mine in this area was the curse of someone creating a scree in the shade of an Indian Bean Tree. Or maybe the scree was first and the tree second. Who knows? Its part of the garden’s lost history. But what is sure is that, in the words of Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’,  ‘Someone had blundered’!!

Most fun scree plants want sun.

Come to that, most alliums want sun too. But The Bean Tree is slow to leaf and since this bulby treasure is shade tolerant and gets going very quickly it is a ‘win win.’

This area is very much work in progress for me, but with the Necs, the Miscanthus behind and some Libertias to be planted this Autumn I will have made a good start.

Back to the Necs. From a distance the pendent bells are peachy coloured. Close to, thanks to flick r, they are green, pinky mushroom and cream. Subtle!

Equally subtle is what happens next:

The leaves, which are already dying back as the flowers open, shrivel to nothing, the whole plant takes on a biscuity tone and the stems of the seed capsules slowly achieve the vertical. Neat! I like plants that move structurally in their life cycle. Equally structual is their stance within the border.  I like the quiet verticals amongst the flummery of the summer border.

It is quite important, however, to present them satisfactorily. They could amount to little more than an obscure, planty curiosity. But give them a dark backgound and the sideways light of the declining sun and hey presto:

I also like that you can see beyond them to further plantings, so they can be as it were a veil. Their biscuity later colour also catches the lower, sweeping light of the Autumn sun to perfection. They are apt finally to get knocked askew by an Autumn or  Winter gale. But this is the point at which you grab hold of a handful of stems, yank and they are out of the ground. Give it a good shake, where you would like more and more you will have.

Mine set seed well last year and there was a good crop of grassy seedlings, which I took good care not to hoe out. Shortly I should have a whole sea of these distinguished verticals.

I can’t wait!

Robert

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