Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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Summer Beauty

Allium Summer Beauty flowers
Allium 'Summer Beauty'

My Happy Returns aren’t happy. The Russian sage is threatening to defect. And my Bloodgood is screaming bloody murder.

Watering restrictions are everywhere in the Chicago area, courtesy of the drought and record-high temperatures. All this has taken a heavy toll on my garden.

I don’t know what I would do without Summer Beauty -- the ornamental onion that is.

This is one allium that definitely lives up to it name.  Its 1 ½-inch light pink balls are just starting to burst into bloom.  The color goes with everything. And unlike many alliums, this one keeps its strappy dark green foliage for the entire growing season instead of fading away once the flowers are finished. It even looks good once the blooms have faded (think star burst) so I leave them up for the winter.

Allium Summer Beauty flower closeup

Summer Beauty, which gets about 16” to 18” high and wide, is definitely drought tolerant. I think I have watered it only once so far this year, although it probably helps that I have it in a lightly shaded area.

It multiplies through rhizomes but not obnoxiously so. It’s just enough so you can divide them in the spring every few years and spread Summer Beauty around the garden.

Did I mention that it’s deer and rabbit resistant? Hardy in Zones 4 to 8? What more can a gardener ask for?

Summer Beauty is especially welcome this year as the only plants still blooming in my garden after our hotter-than-Hades weather are mostly cone flowers and dayliles.

Below are a few pictures from what probably is my garden’s last hurrah for this growing season.  I do have some fall bloomers – asters and sedum mostly – although I’m not sure how they will fare in this heat with limited watering. For now, I’m mostly concentrating on my trees and shrubs, which would be a lot harder to replace than perennials.

So enjoy these summer beauties (small s, small b). And stay cool!
(If you'd like to read about another allium, click here for an earlier post about the circle onion.)

(Plants referred to in the first paragraph are Hemerocallis x 'Happy Returns,' Perovskia atriplicifolia and Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood.')

Cone flowers
Cone flowers (Echinacea)

Burnet (Sanguisorba menziesii)

Lavender Deal daylily
Lavender Deal daylily (Hemerocallis)

By Karen Geisler


  1. You have my sympathies on the damage caused by this draught. Great pictures, though. And that does look like a great allium. I've wanted to get something like it for a while. Also, the lavender daylily is lovely.

  2. I've always been a fan of allium but bot the whopper Purple Sensation because our winds always blow it down. Yours sounds a real winner.

  3. Hi Karen: Hopefully the drought and heat have broken for you like they did for us with recent storms. Well, we're still down by quite a bit with the rain, but 3-4 inches in two days really helped. Thanks for the info on the Alliums--I really need to plant more! By the way, for some reason you aren't showing up on my Blotanical faves roll, even though you've been listed as a fave for a long time. So I apologize for not visiting for a while. I guess Blotanical isn't working well anymore. I'll make a point to visit you through my own blogroll. Stay cool, and I hope you get enough rain, too.

    1. Thanks. The rain has been wonderful! Hope you will try Summer Beauty. Just found out yesterday that Midwest Groundcovers next year will be offering a smaller version of Summer Beauty called Peek-a-Boo. Only 12" tall and very cool.

  4. Beautiful blooms... hang in there, the rain will come.