LUPIN

Several distinct types of lupin are grown in gardens, although the herbaceous lupin (which includes the Russell varieties) is the most popular.

The Tree Lupins are forms ofLupinus arboreus and they do best on light soils. They make shrubby plants from 4 to 6 ft. high and sometimes as much through, flowering in June and are usually mildly fragrant. Though perennial they are not very long-lived and are inclined to become straggly. Older specimens rarely transplant satisfactorily. They can, however, be raised quite readily from seed sown outdoors in May. Golden Spire (deep yellow), Snow Queen (white) and Mauve Queen (rose-mauve) are good varieties.

The Annual Lupins are mostly forms ofZ. nanus and L. Hartwegii. Seed sown outdoors in March will give flowering plants in July. Seedlings should be thinned to about 1 ft. There is a wide colour range, but the flower spikes are small and undistinguished compared with the herbaceous lupins.

Annual lupins make excellent green manure, enriching the soil with humus and nitrogen. They may be sown at about y2 oz. per sq. yd. in early summer, the seedlings being dug in just before they come into flower.

Herbaceous Lupins are developments from Lupinus polyphyllus. They are easy to grow on most soils provided drainage is perfect. They do, however, dislike lime and are very intolerant of chalky land. Bonemcal is a good fertiliser to use. They appear to dislike fresh farmyard manure, but well-rotted manure may be helpful on thin soils, provided it is kept away from the roots. One-year-old plants move best, older plants often deteriorating when transplanted. On rich soils some varieties may tend to ‘flower themselves to death’ and it is always advisable to remove faded flower spikes to prevent unwanted seed formation. Named lupins do not revert in time to the old-fashioned blue lupin. A percentage of self-sown seedlings from a particular plant which has died may turn out to be blue in colour. Although named varieties do not come true from seed they are easily propagated by cuttings taken in March and rooted in sandy compost in a cold frame. Cuttings should be 3 — 4 in. long with a piece of the crown at the base. Rooting takes place in about a month, depending on variety. During this period the cuttings must be kept moist at all times.

Seed may be sown from March to June either outdoors or in a cold frame. It is best to chip the seed beforehand with a sharp pen-knife as lupin seeds, like seeds of crimson- and maroon-coloured sweet peas, have hard coats and germination may be irregular unless all seed is chipped. Some plants should bloom in late summer or early autumn but the majority will flower the following May.

The nodules or swellings found on the roots of lupins, peas, broad beans and other member of the leguminosae family, are sometimes mistaken for the club root fungus which thrives on acid soils. They should be left alone as they contain bacteria which utilise the free nitrogen from the air to form nitrates. This explains why peas, beans etc. rarely require nitrogenous fertilisers.

Present day herbaceous lupins consist almost entirely of varieties in the Russell strain. They are characterised by long, solid spikes. The well-spaced flowers are composed of large, flat keels and fan-shaped standards or erect petals (the keel is the boat-shaped part of the flower). Nearly all the Russells are really bi-colours if examined at close quarters, but in many instance the general effect at a short distance is of a self colour as in Alicia Parrett, Betty Astcll, Heather Glow, Lady Diana Abdy and Sylvia Sankcr or even the older City of York and George Russell. Examples of obvious bi-colours are Comet and Fred Yule.

Choice of Varieties:. The following grow to 3—3 ½ ft. except where specified.

Alicia Parrett: pale cream.

Apple Blossom: soft pink.

Aristocrat: pure white — slight trace of greenish-yellow at top of spike.

Beatrice Parrett: lavender-blue with pink flushes. Reddish-bronze stems.

Beryl, Viscountess Cowdray: cerise-red passing to crimson.

Canary Bird: soft canary-yellow.

Cherry Pie: cherry-red and carmine. Very free-flowering.

City of York: rich red with orange tinges. Often flowers again in late summer.

Comet: a striking bi-colour in rich cerise and ivory-white.

Festival: vivid orange. Very free-flowering.

Fireglow: orange and gold.

Fred Yule: terra-cotta and bright yellow.

George Russell: clear coral-pink, paling with age. Extra tall spikes.

Gladys Cooper: slate-blue and pinkish-mauve. A tall grower to about 4 ft.

Guardsman: rich orange-red. Very free-flowering.

Heather Glow: wine-purple. A superb colour at a distance, especially in the early evening. Very free-flowering and well named.

Jean Baker: lilac. Grows to about 2 ½ ft.

Lilac Time: rosy-lilac, cream and mauve. Very free-flowering.

Pink Champagne: another variety which lights up well in early evening.

A delightful soft pink which is never insipid and fades in pleasing fashion.

Sylvia Sanker: rich blue.

Thundercloud: violet-purple.

Tom Reeves: deep yellow. Firm, very broad spike. Late-flowering. Some consider this the best of all the Russell lupins.

Velvet Queen: plum-purple with crimson flushes.

Wheatsheaf: deep yellow with pink flushes. Grows 2 ½ —3 ft. high.

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