We’ve been making a lot of progress in the garden this year, including processing many of the plants in pots that travelled from the old garden, and were waiting to find a permanent home. Some have moved on yet again, to a friend’s garden. Some pots were filled with nothing but weeds, and have been emptied into the green waste bin. As the clutter subsides, it’s easier to keep track of what I’ve got, and where it is. One of the pots that has resurfaced from the chaos holds ‘Minogue’s Onion’, a slightly mysterious species that was given to me by the late Patrick Whitefield. He described it in Permaculture Magazine a few years ago, but never uncovered its scientific name. It’s a perennial allium with the flattened leaves of a garlic, and forms a clump of strongly-flavoured (he said) salad onions in the winter. In the summer it forms small, round bulbs, which you harvest by digging up the clump and replanting a few to allow it to continue. They don’t need peeling, apparently, which sounds appealing. The plant is supposed to die back in summer; mine hasn’t yet. I have never seen it flower; I don’t think it does.
Mine has survived in a pot, with no intervention from me, for a few years, and so I have repotted it in fresh compost. Hopefully I can keep a closer eye on it now, and it will thrive and we’ll be able to make use of it in the future.
There was a pot marked everlasting garlic, which is an interesting way to grow regular garlic as a perennial, but 4/12 of the beds in my garden are already filled with perennials, so I will stick to annual garlic in future. The reason I mention it is that its presence in the garden was kind of obscuring something entirely more interesting – a pot marked ‘everlasting onion’. It was only once the everlasting garlic was gone that I realised they weren’t the same thing. I had absolutely no memory of everlasting onions, and I had to look them up. They are Allium cepa perutile, an apparently fairly rare perennial spring onion. Plums and Pignuts talks about their winter value, but the most I’ve been able to find about them comes from Mudflower, an Australian blog.
As it turns out, I received my everlasting onions in the summer of 2011. I swapped them for some bulbils from my walking onions (which, ironically, have not survived the move to the new garden). I know that the everlasting onions went to Malvern whilst I was inbetween gardens, rather than the allotment, but that’s about it. I have potted the clump on into a bigger pot with fresh compost, and we shall see what happens.
There are a few more perennial alliums, planted in a crate that I haven’t got round to yet. The broad-leaved Victory onions (Allium victorialis) that Alys Fowler gave me are obvious, but there should be at least two more species in there and their survival is less noticeable. At least I labelled them, so I know what they should be!
The job of finding them a permanent spot, and replacing any that have definitely disappeared, lies ahead….
This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.