Elephant Garlic growing in a previous garden (not yet flowering)

I love elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) – not so much for the taste of the bulb itself, but for the massive flower heads which look so dramatic in the garden or in a vase. It can grow to a very tall 1.5m in size.

Those who love a power-punch of garlic flavour aren’t too keen on the taste of this bulb usually – I read somewhere that it is ‘the garlic you have if you don’t like garlic’ – it’s got a milder, sweeter flavour than what one would expect from a garlic.

The  flowers dry well, and fade from their purply-pink  fresh colour to a softer tones of pink and cream over the year. I have them in a glass vase near my sink where I can admire them daily – it’s another indicator of where we are in the seasons.

At the moment their stems are strawlike and they are paling – a sign that it’s autumn and time to get the new crop into the ground. Last week I planted purple garlic, this week the elephant garlic goes in as I’ve just finished filling another no-dig raised bed for it.

My dried elephant garlic stems - aging beautifully

My bulbs and I have a history together – they were first purchased at a country fair, then planted in long rows at our old farm. I remember with fondness the boys haphazardly helping, along with friends who have since moved on. I remember collaborating to create ‘The Garlic Girls’ to sell our first big crop with a dear friend who still shares her enthusiasm for growing garlic with me. I remember passing some on to my parents who grew them in their sandy soil on Bruny Island (where they thrived!) and who saved those bulbs to give back to me when we moved here to our new home.

This will be the first year I plant them in this soil – a new beginning and more memories to create….

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