allium oddballs: a. azureum and a. ‘hair’
MOST OF THE FAMILIAR PURPLE ONES ARE LONG GONE, but a few real oddball alliums are making a fashion statement here right now—and seemingly proud to be different. Meet Allium azureum (above; also called A. caeruleum) and the oddest of all, the well-named Allium ‘Hair.’
Described as cornflower blue in the catalogs and variously named, the blue ornamental onion in question stands a couple of feet tall, with flowerheads an inch and a half or 2 across. It blooms here just as spring turns to summer, and would probably be more prolific if I took it out of an area that I have to water in July and August and September, because it’s adjacent to vegetables, and let it live a little drier as it ripens.
There are other blue alliums, as this Pacific Bulb Society article describes, but this is one that’s affordable, easy to get your hands on, and hardy in Zones 4-7. A cheap thrill, really, for those seeking the sometimes-elusive color blue in the garden (you can buy it in most catalogs, including here).
Maybe your taste runs to the bizarre instead? Allium ‘Hair’ is at your service. This mutation of the drumstick allium, A. sphaerocephalon, is somewhere between undersea and outer space in appearance (above). Maybe it should be called ‘The Hairy Eyeball’?
It reaches 2 feet or just below that, and is hardy in Zones 4-8, with threadlike tissue emanating from a purple center that looks like a cluster of beads. Now just where this one fits into a garden design I do not know, but curiosity-wise, it’s a winner; no contest.
Sources for oddball alliums: