Six on Saturday – 29/05/2021 – May, aka Lupin-month

Of course, May is also Allium month, and Lilac month, and almost Iris month….but the end of May is when many coloured hybrid lupins (or Lupines…) suddenly appear, seemingly overnight, in my garden. I purchased a half dozen plants a good 10 or 12 years ago and have been collecting and scattering seeds ever since. They seem to like stony, heavy clay soil that gets really dry in the summer (I’ve dug some up with tremendously long tap roots…) and will generally spring up wherever I plant seeds, so I never need to start them indoors.

I took all these photos yesterday morning, before it started to rain. We were lucky – although it was chilly here, regions not too far away reported snow! It was the first bit of rain we’ve seen in about three weeks so all my newly planted seeds, veggies and annuals were quite happy, I expect. As was the Iris. This patch of white ones, I wouldn’t call them ‘tall,’ started to bloom late last week, but today is the first day for this most definitely Tall Bearded peachy/purple one.

Kale doesn’t mind chilly temps at all. In fact, this purple leaved variety (planted and harvested from last year) was left in the ground and survived our winter. It started producing leaves in April. It’s a biennial, I’ve discovered, and is now bolting, sending up these slender flower spires adorned with the cutest yellow flowers. I may collect seed, and I may start that seed indoors for fresh kale leaves to eat next year…

I try to think about colour combinations when I plant shrubs and perennials, as well as bloom times and form. I like how this lilac and bridlewreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia) look together.

The large Allium are just now starting to look stunning. The photo below right is a cluster of A. karataviense, which have large striped (in a muted way) leaves that remain looking great for quite a while (unlike the large, strappy leaves of the tall Allium that start to look ugly almost immediately when flowering starts). Below left is another planned combination – this time with four different Allium species. Can you see them? From left to right: A. karataviense, A. schoenoprasum (aka garden chives), A. hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ (with their characteristically ugly, ugly foliage that I REALLY need to figure out how to hide…) and, at the very end of the row, a solitary white A. Stipitatum ‘Mount Everest.’

My favourite photo from this week’s Six, which, unlike the rest, I processed using Photoshop, is this Bleeding Heart flower. The Latin name for it is now Lamprocapnos spectabilis (although when you look on the internet most sites still seem to call it a Dicentra, even though in botanical circles the name change was accepted more than a dozen years ago), with the ‘spectablis’ part referring to how spectacular the heart shaped flower is. They have long, tough, fleshy roots, like carrots or peonies, which accounts for how this particular plant has survived my transplanting it numerous times in the past 10 or so years.

Every Saturday, The Propagator encourages gardeners around the world to share just six things that are happening in their garden. Difficult to do in May!! Stay safe everyone, and enjoy the various levels of ‘getting back to normal’ your country, state or province may be in.


  1. I sort of expected six pictures of different lupines. That is what I do when something is in season. I mean, I get six pictures of six different cultivars of the same things, like my six rhododendrons last week. I always thought that the lupines that are native here are best, but strangely, these fancy and more colorful lupines are popular where lupines are not even native. I think if we grew them here, we would appreciate the natives less.
    That white iris is rad. Those who enjoy bearded iris might think that the white sorts are boring. I like them because bearded iris happens to be one of those flowers that looks good in white (and white is my favorite color). I think that it would be a good companion to black iris.

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    1. I love the white Iris as well. I had a huge patch of re-blooming white iris that I dug up last fall; I gave away much of it, composted some of it and re-planted a bit that will not bloom this spring. Maybe in the fall. It just spreads so quickly! We have native Lupines as well – blue in colour – and you sometimes see pictures of fields of them, mainly from the east coast. But they don’t grow as well in my soil as the hybrids…

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      1. That is interesting that the hybrid lupins are more adaptable to your soil than those that grow as wildflowers. I suppose that if you are within a region that is affected by glaciation, the soil would be very different from that to the south.

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    1. I love how, with a compressed growing season, we quickly catch up to gardens in regions with a more moderate climate. Still, roses are a long way off, and peonies and poppies are just starting today…

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  2. Hello! Ah, the lilac and spirea are lovely together, and a very similar effect to one I have here. I’ve recently acquired an appreciation for irises that I lacked before. Your peachy purple is a beauty, as are the simpler white, Chris. Enjoy your time in your beautiful surroundings this weekend.

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  3. Your garden has almost literally exploded with color. Did it happen as quickly as it seems to me to have done? Those lupines are gorgeous. Of course, say ‘lupine’ to me and I think about our bluebonnets – a southern cousin to yours. My absolute favorite is the bridal wreath and lilac. We had both when I was in the midwest, and their fragrances combined to create a scent that can’t be reproduced. What a beautiful garden!

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  4. Wonderful six this week, Chris. All are so beautiful. I’m trying to find a solution to the allium foliage problem, too. I was thinking perhaps a ring of daylilies planted around them might work, but as they fill in might be problematic. I wonder if cutting the foliage now would impact next year’s crop? I guess I could experiment with a few to see.

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