Monty Python’s character, Dennis Moore, robs the rich of their lupines. There’s a “Lupine Express” stagecoach and in part two of the skit he flies into a ballroom and yells, “Your lupines or your life,” and the ball goers pull lupines from their undergarments to hand over to the hapless Moore. They are very funny skits.
I think I was introduced to lupines on the north shore of Lake Superior in the early 1990s. They were blooming in ditches all along Highway 61 and the blue waves were mesmerizing. I had to stop numerous times to soak in their beauty. Miss Rumphius, a children’s picture book by Barbara Cooney, is about “the lupine lady,” who beautifies the world by sowing lupine seeds wherever she goes. The illustrations are beautiful and remind me of the lupine laden ditches on Lake Superior. And, when I was in Norway last August, lupines lined the road on our section of the island. Some of them were as tall as I am!
I have never been successful at growing lupines in any of my gardens. I have tried seed and seedlings on south facing slopes (rumored to be the favorite spot of lupines). I was thrilled earlier this spring to see the finger-like foliage sprouting out of the ground, only to be devastated the next day when the rabbits had eaten the tender shoots right down to the ground. I mentioned this to my friend, Gail, who has a bumper crop of lupines in her garden, and she gave me a shopping bag filled seed pods. I removed the last seed from the last pod last night and now have a cup and a half of lupine seeds, which I intend to sow, Miss Rumphius style, on the south facing slope. I’ll have to wait until next year to see if they take, but I’m a patient gardener. And, with any luck at all, my little corner of the world will be more beautiful because of the lupines.