By Kymberly Taylor
I had the pleasure of discovering “little allium” while touring a coastal meadow-style front yard in Wardour, designed by Stephen Makrinos of Campion Hruby Landscape Architects. A coastal meadow, explains Kevin Campion, is a front yard that, in contrast to a manicured lawn, is swept by flowing grasses, free-standing hedges, and native flowers planted in drifts of colors: blues, emeralds, purples, reds, browns, blacks, and caramels. The plantings provide nourishment and shelter to wildlife and pollinators, and structure to the landscape. As they develop, peak, and go to seed, each phase is beautiful and instructive. Their blossoms record river winds and rains; later, their long-stemmed skeletons capture frost and snow, giving form to these seasonal energies and bringing them down into the garden.
As in a watercolor painting, one color never quite stands out. Conversely, everything becomes fascinating upon individual inspection. The hibiscus blossoms billow out like giant scarlet blouses while the minute seed heads of coneflowers become pointed silhouettes upon the berm. Lilies drop their petals singly and eloquently. Phlox takes its time while dahlia blooms are disheveled, ending roughly in a rush of foliage.
As fall and winter progress, decay takes on a patina; there is no such thing as the color black. There is a burnished farewell in the death-shades of the dying sunflower, seeds offered to birds and the earth. Even their bare giant heads, rimmed with brown, become a resting place for small creatures of the air. In the foreground, the massive cone-shaped blossoms of the lime hydrangea become cups that have runneth over, fading to sun-worn pastels.
Yet, almost everywhere I looked in this garden, clusters of “little allium” shone forth in compact glory. There was nothing even gracefully tired about them. They were downright perky, with purple flowers that seemed to defy the heat. This is a miniature but much longer-lasting version of the giant alliums that rise majestically in late spring. Little alliums bloom from spring to fall and thrive even in August when many Marylanders retreat from the heat and their tangled, leggy gardens.
How does one find little allium? I asked Kevin Campion as he gave me a tour of this garden while Stephen Makrinos was on paternity leave. When I commented that I had not seen this perennial in any local nursery, he suggested that I look for it in the spring. So next year, that is exactly what I plan to do.
Enjoy your garden, whether tending to your plants or just relaxing and taking in their personalities.
Follow Kymberly Taylor, editor-in-chief of AHM, on Instagram & Facebook: @thehighheeledgardener
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 11, No. 5 2020