When it comes to pond flowers, I have my favorites: tall, short, and Siberian iris, marsh marigolds, day lilies, cardinal flowers, and most of all lupines.
Lupines, me, and the pond get along well. It started years ago when my wife planted a few on the bank overlooking the pond. They did well. Really well. She’d wait til after the flowers blossomed and scatter the seeds far and wide, and the lupine patch grew into a meadow. On the slope overlooking the pond they are like the blue sky come down to visit, with some pink, red, and white clouds mixed in.
Something about this pond slope loves lupines. Soil, moisture, and sun play their parts. Lupines do well in a variety of soils. But generally they like well-drained but moist soil, and it can be acid or neutral or chalky. In other words lupines are flexible. The plant's name derives from the latin for wolf (lupus) because it was once thought to gobble up nutrients from the soil. But they had it backwards, and in fact being part of the pea family, lupines fix nitrogen in the soil. I think that's why the lupine spread here gets better and better, and they expand territory, encouraged because I mow them well after they blossom and form seeds. Some shelter from the wind helps I hear, but this location gets its share of blows, and I've seen fields of lupines in White Mountain fields that also catch a good breeze. I expect the wind caution is in regard to the tall full grown plants that might keel over in a good blow.
If you're planting from seed you can choose annual or perennial varieties. Annual varieties will bloom for just a year, perennials year after year, but may need a year in the ground to start flowering. Seeds like preparation before planting: soaking in water and possibly slicing open the hard
shell. Lupines are available in a large variety of species; check out annuals and perennials from seed suppliers like Eden Brothers, Vermont Wild Flowers, Johnny's Seeds, and more. Plants can also be purchased from local growers and mail order.
Lupines not only offer visual delight, but the seed can be grown for stock feed, and if properly prepared, human food. It's also used as a green manure, plowed under to add nutrients to soil.
If you watch your lupines when they flower you'll see they also provide food for butterflies and and other flying pollinators.
Lupines are held in high regard in Texas where it's the state flower (known as blue- bonnets), and at various lupine festivals around the country, where blooming coincides with the start of summer.
One more thing. Though lupines are popular with many people and insects, deer steer clear. That puts them even higher on my plant list.
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