John Scheepers2017

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In Focus: Allium bulgaricum Although we've kept it nestled among its Allium cousins, this unusual and prized variety is currently classified as Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum. One may ask, why is it no longer an Allium and what does Nectaroscordum mean? According to John E. Bryan's brilliant two-volume work "Bulbs", 'nectar' refers to the preferred beverage of the Olympian gods and 'scordum' alludes to the smell of garlic. Unlike Allium, although closely related, the three or four varieties in the genus Nectaroscordum have more nerves, have swollen flower stalk tips and are capable of producing more seeds per plant.

Bulgaricum's Magic Show
If you have ever observed the evolution of nervy Allium bulgaricum as it grows, you will understand our obsession with it. Its slender green stalk emerges stealthily from the soil, and, as it approaches the one to two foot mark, one can discern the development of a paper-sheathed hot Chile pepper look-alike at its apex~kind of like a strange vegetative spear. As it matures, the papery sheath tears itself open to expose 20 to 30 tightly clustered, tiny pendant buds per 6"-wide umbel (the composite flower with an umbrella rib-like structure). As the days pass, you can see the little nodding buds giving each other space as they grow on wiry 4" stems. Then, as if by magic, the buds start to levitate. As they slowly elevate into position, the little bell-shaped, plum flowers with creamy-white petal margins open to reveal interior green eyes and pink to deep plum striations. It will be a cherished, mystical prize in your garden, worthy of all of the attention and accolades it will surely receive. Some call it the Sicilian Honey Lily, likely because it was native to southern Italy and its sweet nectar attracts appreciative bumbling bees.

Easy to Plant in Warmer Gardens
A Mediterranean native circa 1873, Allium bulgaricum hovers two to three feet tall above strappy, ground-level foliage that usually starts to brown out prior to flower development. Blooming in May/June depending on the weather, it is hardy from horticultural zones six through ten. We've grown it in zone five with extra care to protect it from arctic temperature spiking by applying a two-inch layer of mulch after the surface of the garden froze. Good mulching mediums include straw, salt marsh hay or oak leaves. Plant Allium bulgaricum bulbs in the fall when the soil has cooled down to about 55 degrees F (after two weeks of sweater weather when night time temps have hovered in the 40s). Plant them 4" to 6" deep and 6" to 8" apart in a nice spot with bright to dappled sunlight and very well-draining, neutral pH soil. It is also a terrific and unusual cut flower.

Biggest Collection of Allium in U.S.
We have a huge collection of Allium from which to choose including unusual varieties like Allium amplectens Graceful Beauty, carinatum ssp. pulchellum, cernuum, flavum, Forelock, Hair, schubertii and triquetrum. No garden is complete without the presence of some of the big globe purple Allium like albopilosum, Ambassador, Gladiator, Globemaster, Pinball Wizard or rosenbachianum. The white globes, like multibulbosum, jesdianum White Empress and stipitatum Mount Everest and White Giant, are just as impactful and showy. For big garden purple and white jewelery, select The Tall Big Globe Allium Mixture.