Simply The Best-April

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An optimist is the human personification of spring. ~ Susan J. Bissonette

April sure has made it hard to be optimistic these days.  For the first 2 weeks it was cold after a very warm and hot March.  There were numerous freezes, but they finally gave way mid month to what appeared to be a spring warm up with temps rising to 90.  But that was short lived and the cold raw weather returned for the last 2 weeks with temps plunging to the 40s.  We had snow, sleet and many more freezes which didn’t bode well for any fruit trees and my lilacs.  We even had a snow day (school was closed in many areas) in late April which is unheard of.

Yes April appeared to be the among the worst in recorded history weather wise around here.  The critters who braved the warmth of March were soon in for harsh conditions.

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annual visit of the mallards

Birds have not been nesting and the pollinators are looking for blooms.  All we have right now are daffs,
grape hyacinths and hellebores.  Yes the hellebores are still blooming.  But the pollinators are grateful for the grape hyacinths.  Any frogs that appeared have long since run to the bottom of the pond to hide in the mud once more waiting for spring to return.  Like them I cannot wait for May.  Temps are predicted to rise from the 60s to the 80s during the week with night temps in the 50s instead of the 20s…hallelujah!

And because of the May like weather in March, the hosta has appeared way too early.  They started to put out foliage this past week, and I thought they had made it through unscathed until this weekend when we had 4 nights of freezes.  They are now limp and frozen looking more like late fall than spring.  I doubt they will revive and put out new foliage, but I can hope.

Of course there are the wildflowers.  Wildflowers that should be starting to bloom.  But those that have decided to bloom early due to the lack of snow are sticking around much longer.  The bloodroot and hepatica bloomed for weeks instead of days.  And the Twinleaf, Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star), trillium, creeping phlox, Trout Lily and Virginia bluebells are all blooming now making pollinators a bit happier.

IMG_6667And the meadow flowers are growing especially my beloved wild lupines or Lupinus perennis which are part of the Pea Family.  They continue to progress slowly putting out foliage.  They are one of my 12 favorite wildflowers that I am including in my series, Simply the Best as I link in with Diana@Elephant’s Eye for her Diana’s Dozen and Wildflower Wednesday@Clay and Limestone (which was last Wednesday).

I first discovered this flower as I would drive the highway to my last job.  The gorgeous fields of long deep purple flowers in May were addicting and I knew I had to grow them.  These flowers prefer sun and fairly dry conditions making them perfect for open fields and road sides.

You can grow lupines in pots, but they are prone to root rot, and should be transplanted after they have 2 or 3 leaves.  It is best to directly sow them into the garden.  Early spring or fall are best for sowing seeds because of the cold and moisture conditions needed for germination.  They prefer amended especially sandy soil.  Scatter the seed and walk on them to make sure they are firmly in the soil.  Make sure you do this during the rainy part of the season.  They will grow nice small clumps of foliage the first year and usually flower the second year.

The flowers of wild blue lupine are usually deep purple but also can be white and blue.  They flower on a 3 to 7 inch long spike.  When they are done flowering you can find an elongated pea pod of seeds forming and waiting to pop.  I have never heard them pop, but it is said they do especially if you collect the seed.  I will have to test this out this year.

 

Origin

There are more than 200 species of lupine in the world with New Brunswick having the most diverse population of lupines.IMG_6378

Lupinus perennis grows wild in dry, open woods and fields from Ontario to Florida along the east coast and west from Ohio to Minnesota.  The plant usually grows amongst pines and sandy prairies in the east.

Many other lupines also grow throughout the United States,  and can be found in the Pacific Northwest, the West Coast, and parts of the Southwest.  Lupines also grow throughout Europe as far north as Norway.

Wild blue lupine is a potentially threatened species in some states particularly Ohio where they have been eradicated as a result of mowing, weed control with pesticides and fire suppression.

 

Name

There are many common names for wild lupine:  Wild Pea, Wild Bean, Blue Pea, Old Maid’s Bonnet, Quaker-Bonnet, Sundial.  

The name Sundial comes from the habit of the leaves.  They follow the sun from dawn until dusk finally folding at night to protect them from the chilly nights.

The plant’s name was derived from the Latin lupus (wolf) because it was once thought to deplete or wolf the mineral content of the soil.

 

Uses

IMG_3151Lupine seeds are rich in protein and can be eaten, but do so cautiously as they can be poisonous in large quantities. It has also been used as fodder for cattle.  The Romans used lupines for fertilizer and ate these high-protein seeds.

Wild Lupine is the only food for the larvae of the Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). The larvae crawl up the stems of wild lupines to feed on the new leaves in mid-April. Habitat loss for this plant has also affected the butterfly which has declined in numbers.  It is said that the Karner Blue is nearly extinct over much of its range and it is now designated as federally endangered.

Honeybees, hummingbirds and the Frosted Elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus) love this plant too.  Deer will browse the foliage and birds and other critters will eat the seeds.

 

Folklore

In the 13th century, lupines were used to heal the child’s umbilical cord after it was cut.

Even though this plant was thought to deplete the soil of nutrients, it does actually fertilize the land around it.

 

Language of Flowers

Lupine means “dejection” or “imagination”, and can also mean “voraciousness”.

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Spring

Under the ground the seed awaits

For the warmth of the sun upon its head

Waking from peaceful slumber

To break free and push past its constraints.

Stretching now toward the nourishing light,

Changing and growing into a new form

Soon to show the world the beauty that has lain dormant

Now unfettered-a true celebration!

Donna Donabella

 

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Check out other posts in the series, Simply the Best:

March-Trillium

February-Trout Lily

January-Hepatica

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I wanted to thank everyone for all the well wishes.  The garden helper and I are still getting over this wretched virus.  It has been almost 2 weeks and we are still coughing and sniffling but we don’t have a fever (that lasted 5 days) and our strength is returning almost to normal.  It meant a lot to know so many of you were sending healing thoughts.

 

 

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Next up on the blog:
  Next Monday it will be time for another Gardens Eye Journal.  I will be highlighting what is going on in the garden especially the veg garden.  It has been under cover for 6 weeks now in all this cold.  What surprises are in store for me, I am not sure I want to know.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

I hope you will join me for my posts, every other Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.  I had to trim back my time blogging so I am back to every other Tuesday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

70 comments

  1. Donna says:

    April was a roller coaster month again this year, but like you said, many flowers stayed in bloom much longer. I too like Lupine very much, but here with the clay soil, they are short lived and not so free to reseed. I have grown them for years and get disappointed after a few years to see them gone. I always liked the leaf shape.

    • Donna says:

      Donna I love the leaf shape as well. I did a bit of amendment to the meadow and then seeded the lupines. They have grown wonderfully. Much better than using potted plants.

  2. The Sage Butterfly says:

    I am glad to hear you are on the mend. It sounds like a very difficult virus, and I hope you heal very soon.

    This weather this spring has been very unpredictable. When I think it is moving in one direction, it swiftly changes to another. Sometimes I have to laugh…I wonder what the summer will bring. Your lupine is beautiful. The color is so stunning, so bright. Take good care…

  3. Alistair says:

    Donna, you had me flummoxed for a few seconds with such a post title. April has also been very poor here also, cold but without the freezes and definitely without 90f. I like the Dodecatheon which you show us, never did get around to trying this one. Sorry to hear you have both been poorly, hope you are fighting fit soon.

    • Donna says:

      Alistair I had to laugh as I didn’t even realize what a joke the title was…definitely not the best month. We are feeling better and fighting fit πŸ™‚

  4. Ramblingwoods says:

    I am happy to hear that you are feeling better… It has been a record setting April and not for any good reasons.. I too have lost the hostas, but hopefully not all the things that we so carefully covered and uncovered day after day after day….Hopefully the early pollinators found a way to survive…

    I am going to take out two ugly hydrangeas in my back yard that are in a shady place and plant something for shady woodland. I am researching now. At least I am willing to try and fail as opposed to just be too afraid to trying anything….Michelle

  5. Elephant's Eye says:

    That leaf is quite distinctive. I think our farmers plant lupins as a green manure. Spires of deep blue are rather lovely, especially set off against the different shape of white daisies.
    Unseasonal grim weather sounds like enough to make anyone ill!

    • Donna says:

      I think the weather had a lot to do with our illness. I have heard people say they use lupines as a green manure and feed for stock animals. I love the leaf shape too!

  6. Esther Montgomery says:

    What a fantastic picture that is at the top . . . ! I love lupins. I have never come across them in the wild and can’t sow them directly in the ground because slugs and snails enthuse about them. Only when they are big an tough are they safe. But when a rain drop is caught in the centre of the leaves – that’s one of the most beautiful sights in the garden.

    • Donna says:

      Esther I agree about the rain catching in the leaves..it is lovely..too bad about the slugs…so glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. Cat says:

    Oh my, Donna. You’ve had some horrid weather to contend with. I hope May is more kind to you, the wildlife and your garden. I love the optimism of your poem. So true!

  8. GirlSprout says:

    The lupines are lovely. I tried growing them here in Santa Fe, but they need to much water for the high desert. Hope you start to feel much better soon.

    • Donna says:

      Thx I am getting there…too bad about the lupines…glad you enjoyed the lupines and glad to see you back blogging!

  9. PlantPostings says:

    We’ve had a bit of a pause, too, in the blooming show. But I imagine the week ahead with warmer temps will bring out the colors again. I think you might have had more extremes in April than we did, though. My Hellebores are seeding and the Daffodils are done. But the Dwarf Lilacs and Bearded Irises are about to burst. πŸ™‚ So glad to hear that you’re feeling better!

    • Donna says:

      Thx Beth….we are a bit behind you due to those extremes…I still have hellebores in May. Can’t wait for more bearded irises to show flower buds…

  10. Cathy and Steve says:

    We have some shooting stars as well, but ours are pink! The plant just came up, but no buds yet. We also have lots of lupines, which we love so much! I struggle with them, though. They are biennials that often behave as annuals. I am constantly replanting, but do it because they are a favorite plant of ours.

    So sorry your weather was such a bust this month. We are so blessed – we’ve gone from 80’s to 30’s but it has not dipped to freezing, and except for the hail storm, no snow. We have been fortunate as our only casualty has been the saucer magnolia blooms. I hope your temperatures level out and things ease for you.

    • Donna says:

      I bought some pink Shooting Stars to try them as well…my cultivated lupines act as biennials and get aphids, but my native ones come up bigger and better every year and with no pests…go figure.

      • Cathy and Steve says:

        Mine behaves like a perennial…. go figure. It grows back in the same place every time, no spread, just the one. It comes up in the same place every year…

        I went out today and still not budded, but the plant looks quite lush. Soon, I hope!

        My lupines are always a disappointment – they rarely come up a second year. I almost always replant in the spring. It kills me financially, as I have to buy a two year old plant to get the blooms, but I am a sucker for a gorgeous lupine!

  11. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens says:

    I am sorry that I haven’t been around much. This weather has been wonderful for my nursery business but I can’t do much else. At this point, I think our unusual hot and then cold weather has been more stressful for the gardeners that the garden. My plants are all fine, and the ones blooming now have been blooming forever.

    • Donna says:

      I would agree except for the numerous freezes. Definitely some lilacs are not leafing or setting flower buds and won’t at this point….and many hostas that were not in protected areas definitely froze for 4 nights in 20 degree temps…they are soggy, limp and appear dead. Not sure if they will regrow. But I doubt it. But the other flowers have been resilient…more so than me πŸ™‚

  12. b-a-g says:

    I thought I’d found a winner when my lupin seedlings flowered in their first year, but this year’s regrowth has been attacked by lupin aphids already. Do wild lupins get aphids too ?

  13. Stacy says:

    Donna, the first time I saw the wild lupines in the NE they just about took my breath away. We have a different kind of native lupine in the west, but they’re a paler, dustier blue–not quite as showy. Your photo with the daisies is lovely! I’m glad you’re on the mend. A 5-day fever will take a lot out of you–hope you and the helper are full of vim and vigor (or vinegar, as my grandmother used to say) again, and feeling stronger every day.

  14. Libby says:

    Glad you are getting better. :). What an informative post! I really enjoyed it. I’ve never seen shooting star flowers before. I like them! They do look like shooting stars!

  15. tina says:

    Sorry it has been such a rough month. Hopefully May will be much better. I can’t grow lupines down here. I have tried. They are so wonderful up north though as my mother grows lots in her garden in Maine. I grow a substitute to the lupine here-well kind of. I’ll be posting on it tomorrow. I hope you are feeling better now.

  16. Eileen says:

    Lovely nature post. The flowers are pretty. The weather has been very strange the last few months. Thanks for sharing, have a great day!

  17. EG CameraGirl , Canada says:

    It has been a strange spring here too. I love lupines! I have a couple of red ones that have reseeded themselves in one garden. But I don’t want to have too many as their is an insect in my neighbourhood that every year ravages them if they find them. So far my few plants have not been found. I’m hoping for the best this year too.

    • Donna says:

      My pink ones that are not native have an insect pest that ravages them, but the native blue have not had any problems.

  18. Foxglove Lane says:

    Slow progress everywhere now with the wretched rain! However I loved reliving my memories of Stockholm which is the only place I have seen wild Lupins everywhere. We don’t have them wild here. What a spectacular plant! Lovely post Donna:~)

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed it and that it brought back memories…our weather has made a positive turn and I hope it stays.

  19. Bernieh says:

    So glad to hear you’re starting to feel better. It sounds like you’ve had some very unusual weather conditions, but it seems to be becoming the norm these days. Changing weather patterns keeps gardeners on their toes. Beautiful Lupines! The Lupine and Daisy combination looks lovely.

  20. Andrea says:

    Hi Donna, your photos are so lovely, the first time i saw lupines i immediately loved them just like pansies and wisteria. And i know they are of different colors. They dont grow here in the hot tropics. It looks like the temperate countries like yours are not the only ones having extreme changes in climate, it is real. We have extremely high temperatures but it suddenly rained at the middle of our dry season, when supposedly it will come in June. So even dormant plants come alive earlier, the downside is some fruit trees will not be productive. By the way i have a new blog, i hope you can visit me there too. thanks….Andrea in this Lifetime.

  21. Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    The winter/spring weather this season has definitely been all out of sorts. Somethings have bloomed early, some didn’t bloom at all. Very odd.

    I admit, I’m quite envious you have Dodecatheon. They’re such beautiful little flowers. The Padre’s Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. patulum) grows wild in this area, but I’ve never found one here. I’d really love to try growing some, if I can find them. I’ve tried growing Lupines, and they do alright, for a season, or two, but it seems our gophers or voles always find the plants, and then they’re gone.

    • Donna says:

      My Shooting Stars have grown quite nicely and I just love them…I have lupines in the garden that iffy year to year, but growing them in a meadow has proven fruitful…the voles in the meadow don’t seem to affect them thankfully

  22. Jen says:

    We have lupins growing down on the coast on the freeway, guess the combination of dry grass, and exhaust really does it for them.

    They are beautiful, and I haven’t seen any up here yet.
    Our weather is all over the board, just like yours, guess it’s a odd spring. Supposed to be sunny today for 8 blessed days….but it’s raining…life’s like that.

    They keep warning us it’s going to get hot, and I know it will….someday.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  23. igardendaily says:

    I am SO glad you are starting to feel better, nothing is more depressing than to be sick in the Spring! It just doesn’t seem right huh, after making it through Winter. I didn’t realize your area could have those type of weather fluctuations in the Spring…I really feel for you. My area is known for crazy, unpredictable Spring weather and wind so I know it can be frustrating.

    I love your info. on the wild lupine and I think they would do well here since they are a spring flower. I also love, love, love dodecatheons and your picture is precious. I don’t have any and haven’t since I lived in Portland. I need to see if they might grow here. Lewisia grow pretty well here and for some reason I kinda think of them as having similar habits, not sure though. Best wishes for a fast, full recovery.

    • Donna says:

      Thx Andrea. Yes we can fluctuate very quickly and severely…hope you get a chance to try to the lupines…I had more luck directly sowing seed.

  24. Aimee says:

    So sorry to year you’ve been under the weather! I hope you’re on the mend and also that warmer temperatures are heading your way.

    We have also had a cold last few weeks here, in the mid 40s at night, but no sleet or snow to harm our plants. What a tough beginning of the garden season for all of you up there! I hope things will recover as much as possible and catch up.

    Lupines are one of my favorites too! When I lived in Wisconsin, you’d see them growing in huge masses along ditches and roadsides everywhere. I actually started some from seed under lights this year and just transplanted them into the ground last week – so far all but one survived, and I am hoping they will bloom this year!

    Fingers crossed that you will be back to feeling good asap!

  25. Jean says:

    Donna, I’m late catching up with your blog, so I hope you’re feeling completely better by now. Mother Nature does seem to be very confused this year. I was saying to a co-worker today that we had May weather in March, March weather in April, and now we seem to be having April weather in May! Maybe by June things will sort themselves out and settle down. (I wouldn’t be surprised if your hostas put up new leaves; that’s what they do after the deer eat them down to the ground. Here’s hoping.)

    • Donna says:

      I do hope the hostas bounce back Jean…so glad to see you…hope things have calmed down for you…I am better, the knee still needs time to heal and the nagging cough continues…but I am back in the garden!! It is so healing.

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