Allium schubertii is no ordinary onion. Its dramatic lilac pink umbels have the extraordinary capacity to turn humble gardeners and not-so-humble bloggers into aspirational poets, reaching for their thesaurus to try to find some new way of saying explosion, or fireworks, or supernova, or spider - all in a vain attempt to describe it anew... and all without mixing their metaphors too many times. To no avail. It's all been said. All the superlatives have been used. It's all true. It's no ordinary onion. Allium schubertii: Buy it, plant it, see for yourself...
Meanwhile, here's how Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini first described it: Bulbs more or less globose to ovoid, up to 4cm in diameter. Stems 30-60cm high, hollow. Leaves 20-45cm long by 3-6cm wide. Flowers star-shaped, 1.5-2cm wide, pink, purple or white with a darker mid-vein to each tepal, many on pedicels of varying lengths forming large open umbels of distinctive shape, summer. Not fully hardy, needing a sunny sheltered site or pot in the alpine house. Eastern Mediterranean to central Asia.
Now there's a true botanist...
What appears to be missing from Zuccarini's description is an indication of the size of the umbel. Just think very large indeed. Leave plenty of space to appreciate it.
It was also a lot colder in Munich in the nineteenth century than it is here these days in Tropical Britain. So you may not need the Alpine House...but put it in a rocky well-drained and sheltered position nonetheless.
It seems curiously appropriate that Zuccarini named this celestial onion to honour Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert who was no ordinary botanist. Influenced by the philosophy of Schelling, he reacted against a purely materialistic approach to the sciences and in 1814 published 'Symbolism of Dreams', which investigated subconscious phenomena and their interplay with external reality. It was one of the most influential books of the early nineteenth century and was a work that later inspired both Freud and Jung.
Now there's something to contemplate when you plant your Schubert's onions...
Big, well-established plants in 1.5L pots - ready for planting out.
|Geographical Origin||Middle East: Turkey; Syria; Lebanon; Palestine; Israel. North Africa: Libya (Cyrenaica)|
|Cultivation||Well-drained alkaline soil with plenty of gravel and sand. Full sun. Warm sheltered position|
|Hardiness||Hardy, bulbous perennial but mulch well for winter|
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