A spectacular year for Lupins

The weather this spring in the UK (2021) has been quite extreme at times. April was a very dry month followed by a very wet and sometimes cold May. Now in June we are back to humid heat with little rain but there is still plenty of moisture in the ground. All this has resulted in a huge explosion of growth right across the garden.

We have grown Lupins for many years but I have been struck this year but the sheer size and exuberance of the plants we have around the garden. The top picture shows the brick red ‘My Castle’ in the foreground with the yellow ‘Chandelier’ and white ‘Noble Maiden’ behind. All of this is nicely framed by another member of the pea family, the Wisteria.

The white lupin ‘Nobel Maiden’ set amongst aquilegia and geum and a yellow dutch iris. I have left the garden tools to show the sheer size of these perennials this year.

Many of the lupins we have around the garden are Russell Hybrids from the ‘Band of Nobles’ series. The species Lupinus polyphyllus is a native of western North America. It commonly grows wild along streams and creeks and prefers a moist habitat 1.

In the background is Lupin ‘The Governor’ which sits well with these scrumptious deep mauve lupins in the foreground (name long forgotten!)

Lupinus polyphyllus was originally introduced into the United Kingdom by David Douglas in the 1820’s (2) . A century later George Russell started to develop the Russell hybrids with the aim of creating flower spikes that we denser, larger and more colourful than the original species. These were first displayed to the public at the RHS show in 1937 and have been a popular garden favourite ever since.

In the background is the red Lupin ‘My Castle’ set behind Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and pink Persicaria bistorta. Just emerging amongst the red lupins you can see the apricot foxgloves which create a striking contrast with the brick red lupins.

Over the last few years we have been developing our collection by growing from seed. It has proved to be a very successful way of growing a significant number of sturdy plants at little cost. In general we have sown the seeds in spring, potted up and grown on for about 12 months before planting out in the flower garden. The bigger the potted plant the quicker they seem to establish in the wilds of the flower garden where they have to compete with neighbouring plants and fend off the slugs. Most of the plants in these pictures are probably now three or four years old.

I particularly like lupins when they are planted in groups to make a strong vertical statement in a large bed. The range of colours is very wide and this allows you to mix and compliment these plants with a wide range of other border perennials.

Lupin ‘The Governor’
Lupin ‘Chandelier’
Lupin ‘My Castle’
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One thought on “A spectacular year for Lupins”

  1. It’s true that it’s a great year for the lupins! Here in France too, I have very good results.
    Fairly little damage to the leaves and the flowers are very tall and flowered. So much the better!

    Liked by 2 people

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