One of the oddest looking plants in our garden, which is blooming right now, is Nectaroscordum (Nectaroscordum siculum var. bulgaricum, AKA Allium bulgaricum, Sicilian Honey Lily and Mediterranean Bells).
For years I didn’t know any of its many names and simply called it “ornamental onion” – imprecise for sure, but not incorrect. Nectaroscordum is indeed a member of the Allium (onion) family, a bulb native to southern France, Italy and Sicily.
I’ve never tried it, but apparently its thick, strappy leaves are edible, tasting mildly like garlic. In Bulgaria, people grow Nectaroscordum not as an ornamental, but to eat like chives on baked potatoes or in salads.
It’s sometimes called Sicilian Honey Garlic, because of its supposedly sweet and spicy aroma – although our plants never seem to have much fragrance. No matter: it’s the unusual appearance that makes Nectaroscordum one of my favorite garden flowers. Each June I look forward to seeing the graceful pendants of bell-shaped blooms radiating down from the tops of the plants like umbrellas.
I’m not the only one who enjoys this oddball: the hummingbirds love Nectaroscordum too, and so do the bees. But fortunately for us, the slugs and deer don’t like it at all!