Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum)


Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum). Frome, 6 June 2021.

In Sainsbury's car-park in Frome. Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum) is a pretty arrival from the Mediterranean, now becoming quite frequent in the SW UK and along the coast of the English Channel. 

Here it's growing next to Beaked Hawk's-beard, another Mediterranean plant, along with Groundsel and Cleavers/Sticky Willy. 

The pine-scented air
Smells so good in the snow
In our toboggan we'll go
Screaming down the mountainside
The touch of your cheeks
When they're rosy and cold
Feels so cozy to hold
Just to take you close
And make you warm and

(Brian Wilson, from "Time To Get Alone")

Within my head there's a synaesthetic tug-of-war whenever I hear the name "Rosy Garlic". I can't seem to detach the word "rosy" from a sweet floral smell, from rain-rinsed cheeks or mountain toboggan runs, and re-combine it with the hot savour of garlic. 

Sometimes I wish that the plant-lovers who directly imported the French "Ail rose", or the Spanish "Ajo rosado" had translated it more literally to "Pink Garlic". 

Rosy Garlic has been cultivated at the monastery of Billom since the fourteenth century. (A small commune in the Auvergne, also the birthplace of Georges Bataille.)

In Spanish it's also known as "Ajo de culebra" (Snake Garlic); also "Ajo perro" (Dog Garlic), "Ajo de brujas" (Witch's Garlic), "Lágrimas de la Virgen" (Tears of the Virgin) . . .

As I ill-temperedly lament not being in Spain, the thought strikes me that the breath of a foreignness I'm blindly yearning is really right here in the supermarket car-park, in this exotic contemporary combination that -- all too fittingly -- garlands the word FUEL. 

Allium roseum was introduced to the British Isles as a garden plant in 1752. It was first recorded in the wild in 1837.

The plants in the photo are Allium roseum var. bulbiferum, which has bulbils as well as flowers: it seems to be the variety that's most commonly seen outside gardens. 

This species has never been recorded in Sweden, unsurprisingly.

Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum). Frome, 5 June 2021.

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