Zesty Chives

Chives liven up the summer border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Chives liven up the summer border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

What is it about chives; those tasty greens that liven up any salad and look divine on top of a baked potato with a dollop of sour cream? Not only pleasing for the palette, chives can add some zest to the ornamental garden as well. Chives, or Allium schoenoprasum, are the smallest member of the onion family (which includes garlic, leek and shallot) and native to Europe, Asia and North America. A bit more petite than the rest of the onion clan, chives typically grow from 6 to 12 inches tall in zones 4-8. They prefer loamy, well drained soil and must have a generous amount of sunshine to thrive.

Chives remain behaved in an herb bed with mints in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Chives remain behaved in an herb bed with mints (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Chives bring delight to my garden when they burst into bloom like dozens of mini sparklers on the Fourth of July, which happens to be around the time they start to flower. The blossoms range from shades of purple, pink and white, and the foliage varies from thin spikes to thick blades resembling linguini with arabesque curls. The good news is their onion smell deters most critters, and may actually help prevent damage to companion plantings. The bad news is, these jivey-chive characters tend to spread seed around like nobody’s business and may end up producing a few more offspring than you want to accommodate. Not an earth shattering issue; simply pull or dig out the invaders and all will be well once again. Or, restrain them in a container, where their pursuits will easily be curtailed.

** See other ornamental ALLIUM options for your garden ~

Chives blend wonderfully with other garden perennials in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Chives blend wonderfully with other garden perennials (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Because they are shorter plants, I like to plant chives toward the front of the garden where I can enjoy their joyous display while keeping an eye on their behavior. When they are conducting themselves in a disciplined manner, chives form a compact mount about 8 to 12 inches in diameter that adds a pleasing form and texture along the border. When the flowers erupt it’s always in unison, creating the illusion of a miniscule group of cheerleaders holding up their colorful pom poms to root for the home team. Once the flowers are spent they tend to brown and hang limply, so remove them promptly to keep things looking fresh and tidy (while keeping those naughty fertile seeds in check).

** Love garlic?  You can easily grow GARLIC in your garden ~

The vibrant blossom of garlic chives in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The vibrant blossom of garlic chives (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If the gentle flavor of Allium schoenoprasum doesn’t have quite enough kick for you, you can sample the cousin, Allium tuberosum, commonly known as garlic chives. Also grown for their scrumptious scapes, this onion offers ornamental attributes of greyish-green blades and orbs of stunning white flowers atop 12 inch stems each summer. Garlic chives are also known as Chinese chives, as they are grown extensively in China for culinary purposes. Like regular chives, both the flower and the foliage are edible as well.

So what are you waiting for?  Go get your “chive” on~

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Comments

  1. I never knew that chives had flowers! They’re beautiful & good eating….

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