Why Bother ?


Allium komarowii Leaf and flowers


Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Allium komarowii is one of the rarest bulbs in the true sense. To find this bulb flowering in cultivation we are limited to only two or three private collections in the country. To find it in the wild we would need to fly to Tajikistan, take a short ride to the Shing valley, which is horticultural inhospitable with bolder and gravely scree meadows, and there, in a few isolated places we could occasionally find small half global, deep violet purple flowers on 30cm high stems. Digging the bulbs would not be allowed, they are too scarce to remove, so seeds need to be collected. The wild collected seeds need to be sown in autumn and grown on in the nursery for, well a nurseryman would tell you, three years, but in reality it takes five to seven years to make good flowering size bulbs. Then we come to my headline, “Sometimes I wonder why I Bother?”

I must rectify before I mislead any reader, I was not the collector of this rare plant, but I was the one who parted with £75.00 for three bulbs. I was taken by the rarity, the description and words like beautiful, unusual, extremely rare and flowering size bulbs, incidentally no they were not, (flowering size) I have waited two years for the bulbs to flower and during this time have lost two of the three to mice, winter damp and cold. Brilliant!

But joy to the spring, Allium komarowii is going to flower for the first time (for me.) An exaggerated broad leaf, grey silver covering the entire leaf. From this single leaf emerges a small bud and great horticultural excitement bestows the grower. Until, the flower opens.

Oh, is that it?

I’ve better Alliums in the garden for 20p.

Oh but this is rare, “I not surprised”

I’m sorry but I can’t help feeling very deflated. Who do I blame? the grower for the descriptions? the collector for spending so much time searching out such a similar species, no I blame myself for supporting the forma two nurserymen, supporting them with my hard earned money.

Now before you boot up office word to email me, hear my final words. I still do like rare plants and over the past thirty years have spent tens of thousands of pounds on many rare plants. I support the holding of rare plants in cultivation to safeguard any loss in the wild. However, I can not verbally sympathise any collection of none garden worthy plants and will now openly condemn nurserymen’s extraordinarily descriptions of weeds.

Kevin Pratt May 2012


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20p Allium in my Garden

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