Ornamental onions sounded like an oxymoron to me, but now I know better. Many of the gardens I visited this summer included them. I learned from the gardeners that besides being lovely, they ward off those hoofed locusts better known as deer. Seems the onion family of plants gives off an odor that steers deer clear of them. For those hungry deer undeterred by the smell, they take a taste, make a face and walk away. This not only benefits the onion plants themselves but their flower neighbors. I learned that Allium and other onion plants are low maintenance and drought resistant which certainly came in handy this summer.
When I researched Alliums for this blog, I learned that they were grown at the Imperial Botanical Gardens in St. Petersburg starting in the late 1800’s. The flower loving Brits heard about them, swiped some from the Russians, and soon started growing their own and making new varieties. Today there are more than 800 types.
The obvious question is “Are they edible?” From what I could find they are indeed edible but there were so many cautions about pesticides and eating the right types that I’ll leave that to you to decide whether or not to eat them. For me, I’ll stick to taking pictures of them.