ISSUE 105  |  Editors' Picks 2013

DIY: Alliums, Three Ways

December 31, 2013 8:00 PM

BY Erin Boyle

Brightly colored and shaped like something from another planet, these cousins to chives and garlic and onions are cropping up in gardens throughout New York at this time of year.  But more than being showpieces in gardens, allium flowers make for beautiful additions to arrangements, too.

Photographs by Erin Boyle.

Without a garden full of alliums of my own, I took a walk to GRDN in Boerum Hill for a little inspiration and an impromptu lesson in allium arranging. 

Allium Purple Sensation is one of the brightest varieties and among the first to pop in the spring. If you have a garden of your own, you can order a set of 12 bulbs for fall planting from White Flower Farm for $12.95 (available seasonally). I made one of my arrangements by adding just three stems of this bright purple allium and a few stems of peppergrass to a small glass bottle. 

As Lydia at GRDN reminded me, one of the nicest things about alliums are the way that they change over time in a vase. These tight pods will open over the course of a few days to reveal bright white flowers. I paired two bendy stems of white allium with just two stems of scabiosa to make a sparse but scultpural arrangement in a vintage volumetric flask. If you’re looking for a similar vessel, Sweet Potato Jack has a Vintage Collection of Labware for $36 via Etsy. 


I used allium schubertii as the central allium for my final arrangement. On that allium, one central stem branches out in a broom-like shape where each “bristle” is topped with a tiny purple flower. Six Allium Schubertii bulbs are available seasonally for $16.95 at White Flower Farm.

To complement the colors of the allium, I added spiny thistles, bright green peppergrass, and black and lavender scabiosa.

For an extra bit of texture and volume, I tucked branches of unripened blueberries underneath the scabiosa.

And there they are: three different arrangements, featuring three different kinds of alliums, each one more fantastical the last.

For more of Erin’s easy flower arrangements, see the rest of our Bouquets of the Week.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published May 23, 2013, when we spent a week wandering down The Garden Path.