Onions to go

Credit: Carolyn Jones

This ornamental onion is a standout for coastal Pacific Northwest gardens. Called Allium stipitatum ‘Glory of Pamir’, it produces sturdy stalks up to 150 cm (5 ft.) tall, each bearing a rounded cluster of star-shaped, pinkish-purple flowers.

The individual flower stems radiate from the centre like fireworks – a shape that serves the plant well once the seeds ripen. This species is native to the dry steppes of eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, Pamir and the Tien-Shan Mountains.

In late summer, the ball-like seedhead snaps off the stalk and rolls across the dry land, dropping its beautiful, round, black seeds as it goes. While many ornamental onions resent the winter rains in our region and deteriorate with time, this species persists for many years if planted in full sun with good drainage. It is hardy to zone 4.