every blooming thing

Courtesy photo/Colette Bauer

Red Bluff Garden Club member Colette Bauer has a plot of onion flowers growing on her property and uses the blossoms often in her flower arrangements.

What a glorious spring day. It’s cool enough to work outside all day – if only I had the energy! The color in my garden is stunning with the bright orange poppies glowing on the creek banks, the tall stately iris bursting forth in almost every color imaginable and the roses shouting “look at me, look at me”. The smells are also wonderful with the odor of freshly- mown grass mixing with the sweetness of Daphne and the subtleness of the rose. Yes, it is a glorious day. So why in heck am I writing about the Onion Flower?

My first exposure to the Onion Flower was at my mother-in-law’s house. I really needed some flowers to complete a floral arrangement for church. There they were, nestled among the weeds – the Onion Flower. Over the years these flowers have saved me more than once when in the throes of floral arranging. When we remodeled her home, before taking up residence, we built a garage right over her bed of Onion Flowers. We were, however, wise enough to save some of the bulbs. I now have a 10 by 10 plot where the Onion Flower, which tends to be invasive, is allowed to propagate.

Right now the Onion Flower is at its best. The flowers are white clusters three to four inches across atop slender stems and surrounded by shorter green leaves. The flower itself is usually 10 to 14 inches tall. As expected, it grows from bulbs or seeds. As its name indicates, the Onion Flower (Allium neapolitanum) is in the Allium family and is also related to the Amaryllis. As the name also indicates, when the leaves, stems or flowers are disturbed there is a definite pungent odor of onion.

Although native to the Mediterranean region, the Onion Flower has been naturalized to Georgia, Alabama, Florida and California. It is deer, rabbit and drought resistant and its only demands are full sun and well-drained soil. A caution, the Onion Flower can be mildly toxic, especially if you have sulfide allergies so you probably won’t want to add the bulbs to your salad.

The really great thing about the Onion Flower is its showiness and longevity. The white flowers glisten in the sunlight and invite me to keep the weeds pulled in their vicinity. They usually bloom for at least a month and are a wonderful addition to almost any floral arrangement. Speaking of floral arrangements, the cut flowers last about two weeks and also can be dried which even increases their longevity.

So now you can understand why I chose to single out the Onion Flower, even in the midst of all the gorgeous spring growth. If you are intrigued by the beauty and versatility of the Onion Flower I am willing to share seeds or bulbs. You, too, can start your own Onion Flower plot.

The next Red Bluff Garden Club Meeting will be May 30 at 1 p.m. at the Red Bluff Methodist Church located at 525 David Ave., Red Bluff. Visitors are always welcome.

The Red Bluff Garden Club Inc. is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc. and Pacific Region, National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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