Each week I begin the first hour of GardenLine with I Love This Plant/I Hate This Plant. Last week I decided to feature lupine on the program, and on Friday night I posted the following on Facebook: Tomorrow on GardenLine I’m talking about why you might, or might NOT, love lupine.
Several of my Facebook friends commented that they do indeed love Lupine polyphyllus. Frankly, I do too, but there are reasons why others might be frustrated with this plant.
When I gardened in the rock and clay of New York’s mid-Hudson Valley, the lupine I planted thrived. I’d leave a stalk or two to go to seed and each year there would be small plants among the larger ones. I noticed that after the plants grew their largest and most beautiful, they often died. I’d have a plant for five years and then it would be gone. Since the seedlings grew to take their place, however, this wasn’t a problem.
Most people on Cape Cod, where I currently garden, have sandy soil not clay, however, and they have a hard time keeping lupine alive longer than one season. In sand, the plant’s normal lifespan of about five years is reduced to one or two unless it’s planted in deeply amended soils.
Even when they self-seed the lupine may not stay where they’re planted; most self-seeders wander around the garden, often germinating in or right next to other plants, or in cracks in the driveway. Since they have a taproot, these out-of-place plants need to be moved when they are very small…once they are a year old they are less likely to survive transplanting. Such plants may not be for gardeners who have an exact place for everything and want everything in its place.
In the garden, and in so many areas of life, we are called to accept things, and work with them, as they are. Seldom is a plant, a person, or a workplace perfect, for example, even when there are aspects of that plant, person or workplace that we love.
Yes, I love lupine. I’m willing to plant new ones where I want them to grow, to accept that they may not seed in exactly the right place. I’m know that it might be necessary to purchase a few every year, or to start them from seed, if I want to be assured of a particular flower color. I am prepared to work for what I want, but at the same time to accept imperfection.