Alliums of Arundel Castle - 35,000 to enjoy!

 Alliums of Arundel Castle

by Martin Duncan, Head Gardener

Recently, alliums have become very popular which is rather amusing considering alliums are part of the humble onion and garlic family!

Onions originated from Asia hundreds of centuries ago. They became very popular with the Egyptians for their culinary qualities and were made more widely available following the opening of Asian trade routes through the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Onions have come a long way since with cultivated allium flowers rising to international acclaim for looking sensational in any present-day garden.

At Arundel Castle, we use alliums to enhance each of the gardens with their different shapes, colours and heights – demonstrating how versatile and elegant these flowers can be. In the White Garden by the Fitzalan Chapel we have planted the small, pretty, white ‘Cowanii’ alongside the aptly named Mount Blanc,’ which have large ball shaped heads of creamy white flowers. These varieties look charming with our collection of white roses, including Iceberg, Tranquilly, Winchester Cathedral, and William and Catherine.

Throughout the walled gardens we have the stunning varieties of ‘Purple Rain’, Purple Sensation and Gladiator’ on display. ‘Christophii’, which has beautiful large, amethyst-coloured flower heads, gives the impression of hot air balloons floating above the English lavender in the Cut Flower Garden. Perhaps my imagination is getting carried away these days!

Mount Everest’ contrary to its name is not the highest variety, but does have very large white flowers. ‘Round and Purple’ have the largest bloom, with enormous purple heads. Finally, an unusual allium we have planted, Bulgaricum - Syn Nectaroscordum Siculum’ has striking bell-like flowers, with white and a dark brown-red centre.

The most impressive plants in the gardens at the moment are the enormous and stately Echium pininana, otherwise known as the Tower of Jewels, which stand tall and reflect the spires of Arundel Cathedral in the background of the Stumpery Garden. They have hundreds of tiny blue flowers that attract passing bees and originate as a native plant from the Canary Islands.

We even have some of our roses flowering, like our Harlow Carr along the path to the Rose Garden. it is a highly scented pale pink shrub rose that will look lovely in any garden. In the Cut Flower Garden, we have a collection of roses named after well-known gardeners such as Gertrude Jekyll, Graham Thomas, Geoff Hamilton, and Alan Titchmarsh

The organic kitchen garden is being planted up with vegetable seedlings, directly sown and plug plants.  The Sweet Peas have all been planted out and are growing rapidly up the hazel archways. You can check out the videos on our website to learn how to best to plant sweet peas and dwarf vegetables in pots.

A few tips to remember for spring/summer from the Castle Garden Team:

  • Make sure your newly planted trees, shrubs and lawns are well watered.
  • Cut lawns weekly (cut in alternative directions each week).
  • Look out for those pesky scarlet Lily Beetles, which will devour all your lilies given the chance!
  • At the end of May lightly cut your Box Hedging (Buxus).
  • Direct sow French and Runner Beans.
  • Pinch out the tops of your Broad beans when they flower to discourage Blackfly.
  • Tuck straw under your Strawberries to protect the fruits from lying on the ground and rotting later on.
  • Earth up your potatoes 
May to June is one of the most exciting and busiest times of the year in the Castle’s gardens and a great time to see the alliums.  The alliums look stunning, popping open into pom poms all over the gardens and landscape. There are some lovely photographs and a video tour on our Facebook:

Happy Gardening!

For further information on Arundel Castle and gardens, please visit


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  2. Good article about a very interesting place. The flowers are incredible. I'm glad they have a site where they describe everything in detail. I hope someday I will come to Arundel Castle.

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