The beauty of Maine’s natural Lupine
June is a great month for wildflowers in the North Maine Woods, particularly the wild lupine that blossom around mid June. Last Saturday Bill and I had to drive to Houlton, about 40 miles north of us, and the roadside along I-95 was just a mass of wild lupine. The predominant color for the wild lupine is a glorious purple but every once in a while you will see clusters of pink, pale lavender and white.
Naturalizing the Yard with Lupine and Wildflowers
The lupine are so beautiful when they appear in a natural setting that a few years back I decided to naturalize parts of our landscape with lupine inter mixed with other native wildflowers such as daisies, brown eyed susans , indian paint brush and purple cow vetch. Naturalizing cuts down on the amount of mowing we have to do and leaves parches of focal points in the landscape. We planned ahead to do this. Our first step was to mark out the areas where we wanted our “islands of natural beauty” in the fall. We used our rototiller to turn the soil over and then raked the area to remove clumps of rooted sod and larger stones. Then we covered the area with a layer of black plastic and waited it down with hay bales so the plastic wouldn’t blow away. The black plastic does a number of beneficial things. First, it keeps the last of the fall weeds from seeding the area. It attracts the heat of the sun heating up the soil beneath killing in plant life, in effect “sterilizing the soil” before winter sets in. The black plastic solar attracting properties melt the snow quicker in the spring and heats the soil beneath it so we can starting working it and planting it sooner. When the soil is warm enough for seeds to germinate, I plant them and let the spring rains do their job.
Then I went out for a ride yesterday and took some more shots of lupine around Sherman. Truly they are “eye candy”. I just had to share them with you!
As the spring turns to summer the different wildflowers including the lupine flourish and blossom. Lupine, here in Maine, have a relatively short season, pretty much the month of June and then they go to seed. That is why I mix other wildflowers like the daisies and brown-eyed susans in the bed to add interest in the area throughout the summer. Other wildflowers that grow in our fields have self-seeded themselves in to the mix. I don’t mind this as I am looking for a natural mix. I do “weed” the area, to a degree, by pulling up less desirable, more invasive plants like goldenrod, Joe-pye weed,and the hated ragweed (hated by me because it triggers my asthma). I don’t get overly anal about weeding as I am striving for that natural look. Lupines do not require additional fertilization as they are a member of the pea family and actually “fix” (add) nitrogen in the soil. Adding additional fertilizer makes them grow more foliage and fewer flowers so it best to just let them take care of themselves when it comes to plant food. They love being in the full sun. Lupine are also fond of well drained soil as they will develop “root rot” if they are planted in an are where water stands or pools up.
Sources of Lupine Seed – You kind good quality lupine seeds from the following sources: