The Lupin’s Ambiguous Beauty

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Drifting down hillsides and along the edge of highways, in wild meadows and domestic gardens, spikes of lupin spread rich gifts of purple, pink, white or yellow. These ones were beside our campsite near the summit of Allison Pass.

Like the cheery yellow buttercups I wrote of earlier, the lupin’s beauty is deceptive.

Although popular as ornamental garden plants, many varieties can also become invasive weeds.  Lupinus is a genus in the legume family, and fixes nitrogen from the air to fertilize the soil for nitrogen-loving crops like broccoli, cucumbers, spinach and squash. In the wild that excess of nitrogen can cause the demise of many native plants that would otherwise grow in the poorer soil. With their full range of essential amino acids, lupins in some locales are even being grown as an alternative to soy. A couple species are cultivated as forage, but at the same time, lupin seeds infected with a particular fungus, can poison livestock.

Ambiguous beauty. It reminds me of red herrings in mystery stories – seemingly innocuous objects or comments that are seen as helpful clues in a crime, but they mislead.

Despite their negative aspects, I can’t bring myself to dislike lupins. I still nurture a few plants in an unruly corner of one garden bed. When they bloom, their beauty brightens an otherwise dull spot near the edge of the woods. A flash of azure and indigo, sometimes a hint of white.  Surely a whim of God brought them. Surely it can’t hurt to let them stay.

Do you have flowering weeds or wildflowers that grow unbidden in your garden? Do you root them up, or let them be? Why?


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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land. [Solomon 2:12]

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The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice,
and blossom as the rose. [Isaiah 35:1]

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 The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7b]

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6 thoughts on “The Lupin’s Ambiguous Beauty

  1. shanegenziuk says:

    Fabulous photos of one of my favourite plants.

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Tiny blossoms of bindweed decorate the fence beside my garage. In this month of 100-plus degree Fahrenheit heat and not a drip of rain since May, they are testament to perseverance. They just keep blooming, fragile white flowers that belie the intensity of the plant to defy destruction. There must be an allegory for writers in there somewhere.

  3. joylene says:

    It’s rained so much this summer, I’m afraid to take a close look. But today “is” the 3 day of summer, so I should be brave and venture down to the garden. My lupins have stopped blooming. Darn.

    Generally, if they’re pretty they get to stay. LOL.Are dandelions pretty? Sorry, no.

  4. karen evans says:

    Beautiful pics. I love the blue. Well, weeds when mowed do help cover the sand we have for a yard, so I usually leave them. Watering is so expensive and requires lots of fertilizers to keep a yard green here. Weeds grow unbiden and will look like grass from a distance. 😛

  5. Katt says:

    I used to have a bed of wild flowers. Now just have mostly annuals. I love flowers, an d am really enjoying your pictures!

  6. Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. It sounds like most of us tolerate anything that blooms and covers otherwise bare ground. I do love wildflowers in wild places, tho’ not so much in the middle of my vegetable garden. 😀

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