Lupins Are A Stately Classic In The Garden

Lupins Are A Stately Classic In The Garden

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The stately spires of lupins never fail to impress, their appearance a floral salvo announcing the launch of the summer season.

Modern garden lupins have been bred from American species L. polyphyllus, which was introduced in the 1820s.

Flower spikes of the first hybrids were gappy, until York horticulturist George Russell spent 20 years breeding and rigorously selecting more densely flowered forms after crossing L. polyphyllus with L. arboreus, L. sulphureus and other annual species.

In conjunction with local nurseryman George Baker the pair further perfected the new lupins. When publicly exhibited in 1937 they caused a sensation and the Russell hybrids were born.

They still form the starting point for modern hybridists, including Maurice and Brian Woodfield of Stratford-upon-Avon, who developed the ‘New Generation’ hybrids from the 1970s, and latterly nursery owner Sarah Conibear who launched West Country hybrids in the 1990s with some really eye-catching colour combinations.

Others currently available are specific selections from the ‘Band of Nobles’ series and the ‘Gallery’ series.

Lupins are easy to grow, requiring a moist, well-drained, soil with plenty of organic matter with a position in the sun to do well. They are often not long lived, so specific varieties need propagating from softwood cuttings rather than seed. Remove spent blossoms, unless seed is required.

The main scourge are slugs and snails which damage succulent young shoots, so need to be controlled as new shoots emerge in spring.

Fact: Left to naturally seed themselves over generations lupins will tend to revert to blue, as genetically this is the dominant colour.

Types of lupin

‘Polar Princess’

Polar Princess

Vigorous, compact late-flowering variety, with dense, flower-packed spikes. H: 75cm (30in) S: 45cm(18in).

From: www.suttons.co.uk Tel: 0844 326 2200

‘Manhattan Lights’

Manhattan

One of the most striking West Country bicoloured hybrids. H: 90cm (36in) S: 45cm (18in)

From: www.suttons.co.uk Tel: 0844 326 2200

‘Tequila Flame’

Tequila Flame

Striking, later flowering bicolour, making an effective focal point. H: 75cm (30in) S: 45cm (18in).

From: www.westcountrylupins.co.uk Tel: 01237 431111

‘Desert Sun’

Desert Sun

Rich, custard yellow blooms on stately spike. H: 90cm (36in) S:45cm (18in)

From: www.westcountrylupins.co.uk Tel: 01237 431111

‘The Page’

The Page

‘Band of Nobles’ selection with stately red flowers. H: 120cm (48in) S: 60cm (24in).

From: www.crocus.co.uk 01344 578111

‘The Governor’

The Governor

Blue and white bicolour selected from the ‘Band of Nobles’ series. H: 120cm (48in) S: 60cm (24in).

From: www.crocus.co.uk 01344 578111

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