|Allium Beau Regard|
|Allium Lucy Ball|
At the top of the list must go Allium Globemaster. This one, while each individual bulb is relatively expensive, is well worth the cost. I have found Globemaster to be long blooming, to have large, nicely colored heads, to multiply well, and to last well in the garden over the years. This means that you can divide the bulbs periodically and build up your supply that way without having to break the bank. If I were going to plant only one allium it would be Globemaster.
Second on my list would be Lucy Ball. This one, while less expensive than Globemaster, performs just about as well in the garden and also multiplies well. Third would be either allium schubertii or christophii, both of which have a looser head, but even more gigantic than Globemaster. Schubertii is bigger and more spectacular than christophii. They also grow lower to the ground and hence are better as a front of the border plant. Finally, I like a relatively new one (at least to me) called Beau Regard. The heads of this are larger than those of Globemaster and the stalks are much thicker. I don't have as much experience with it than with others, though, so I don't know how it will perform long term in the garden.
Other alliums that I have grown include Firmament (also a good one), Gladiator (another good one), Round and Purple (a good name if ever there was one), karataviense, giganteum (this is a straight species that I would not grow--the hybrids are better), flavum and moly. The latter two are small yellow flowered alliums which provide shots of clear yellow in the garden at a time when there is otherwise not much of that color. All these alliums are worth experimenting with in the garden.
I grow alliums all over my garden except in deep shade. They are great for just sticking in between established perennials, since they will usually grow above the expanding foliage and that foliage will hide the browning leaves of the alliums. They grow wonderfully with poppies beacuse they bloom at the same time. Another good combination is with eremurus, as the picture I posted yesterday and which I use as a background for this blog will attest.
I have bought alliums from many sources in the past, but the place which has the greatest assortment of alliums now that I know of is McClure and Zimmerman Bulbs.
http://www.mzbulb.com/dc.asp?c=152 . I have purchased many bulbs from them and would recommend them, especially for alliums. Another good source is Brent and Becky's Bulbs, brentandbeckysbulbs.com . I have also ordered from them and have been pleased with what they send.