Lessons from the Gardener 2: the Life of a Lupin

From seed to flower

Today was such a beautiful day that I couldn’t resist a wander through Logie House Garden. So much has changed in the past couple of weeks. The expanse of the garden in many places is now obscured by leaves and petals which have appeared as if by magic, framing pathways and creating new vistas. There’s a riot of purple at the moment, the tulips are nearly over, but there are alliums, peonies and lupins aplenty, as well as trees tinged with pinkish blossom. I stumbled upon Panny, the real gardener, who took me on a wander with her.

alliums lupins and purple in Logie House Garden in May

Lupinus nootkatensis

An Interesting History?

Panny told me that the story goes that James Cook and his crew were mapping up the West coast of America. As they were passing a group of islands in British Columbia, he went past this particular island and shouted to ask what the island was called. The local people shouted back something that Cook and his crew took to be, ‘nootka nootka’, so he thought ‘thank you very much’ – but what they actually meant was ‘turn your ship around because you’re going to go aground’. So the plant from this island is called nootkatensis after the island that never had that name at all. Whether that’s strictly the true story of how this lupin acquired its name, I can’t seem to find out, but there’s something in it and it’s more interesting than discovering it means ‘purple and pointy’ or something in Latin.

Propagation and the Full Life Cycle in Logie House Garden

After seeing these lovely Lupins in full flower in the garden, Panny took me into the nursery to see the stages that come before – how the seed from those very flowers will create more and the different stages from there to here. Her enthusiasm is infectious and if you’re a gardener yourself you’ll be able to tell whether I listened well enough to my lesson; this time I didn’t send my homework to the gardner before I hit ‘Publish’!..

Because the Lupinus nootkatensis is not a variety (that a person has bred) but is a species, it breeds true from seed. To end up with the gorgeous blooms in shades of purple you see growing in the garden right now (and at the top of this page), seeds are collected in early autumn from Logie House Garden. Fresh seeds are put into a pot with gravel on the top, about 20ish seeds in a pot. These ones in the picture below were sown in November so that they then have a cold spell and come up in the spring. The plants will ‘know’ to germinate when the conditions are right. Gravel on top keeps the pot clean and keeps moisture in and it sits outside all winter long. The first leaves are very thick and tough compared to the true leaves – they can and do withstand some serious weather. These leaves then disappear like baby teeth and are replaced by the true leaves.

The undersides of the true leaves at this new growth stage have a reddish tinge (see picture below), which is nature’s warning to animals to suggest that they might be poisonous. Once the plant is bigger and stronger this red colour gives way to green. Panny tells me that red/dark purple on the underside of the leaves of a mature plant has a different purpose and suggests that it likes to live in shade as the red will stop whatever light there is from travelling straight through the leaf and will absorb as much of it as possible.

Lupinus nootkatensis growing from seed in Logie House Garden nursery

Once the plants have true leaves (not just the dicots/first leaves) they are then pricked out individually into small pots to grow on. They grow on in this pot for a couple of months. Some of the plants in the pots at this stage self-seeded in the garden and were dug up at this point rather than grown right from collected seed – nature did the first part of the job for the gardener. Both types started off life in Logie House Garden. The little plants overwinter in a slightly larger pot outside with a frame and mesh around to protect from the voles who find it delicious. As soon as they start growing in late spring they’re potted into a larger pot, where they grow on until large and strong enough to go to the shop and are ready to be planted in your garden. These four stages can be seen from left to right in the picture below.

the stages of propagating Lupinus nootkatensis in Logie House Garden nursery

From this Garden to Yours

These, when planted in your garden now, will flower this year. Lupinus nootkatensis is a hardy perennial and will die down over the winter and come back the following year, most likely bigger and stronger than this. Chop the dead bits off and that’s all the maintenance required – a nice easy plant to grow and look pretty in your garden. My type of flower! I think i’ll be nipping over to Logie Farm and Garden Shop and taking some home for my own garden.

And if you’re wondering if it will be hardy enough for where you live, Panny says that she’s seen it growing along the A9 up on the hill on the left at the north end of the long bit of dual carriage way just into Perthshire – when you’ve just gone over the top. If it can survive there it’s certainly hardy enough for most gardens in Scotland!

Campion: a pretty aside

pink campion growing freely in Logie House GardenAs we wandered through the garden pondering the Lupins, we saw clumps of Pink Campion dotted about the beds. Having grown up in Cornwall surrounded by the deep lane-side banks we call hedges, I was pleased to be able to name it (not a great feat you might think, but that’s the level of my gardening expertise) and wondered why this pretty hedgerow weed was being allowed to grow in the garden. Before I could ask, Panny was distracted by a particularly effusive clump and stopped to admire it. She said, ‘People new to working in the garden always want to pull it out but I like it, so we keep it. It’s better than bare earth, and it can be dug up at any time if you don’t want it any more or want to plant something else.’ Seems good enough reason to me – it looks very pretty and ‘wild’ and there are plenty enough weeds that aren’t pretty to pull out. Plus, as Panny pointed out, it’s a source of nectar for bees – another reason why it’s better than bare earth at least! And a note to a real novice like me that, if you like something in your garden, who is anyone else to tell you that it’s a weed. I’ll admire the profusion of Campion covering up the less attractive weeds in my own garden all the more.







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Lessons from the Gardener 2: the Life of a Lupin

Terms & Conditions for fishing on Logie Estate

  1. Fishing on the river is restricted to 2 rods per beat and is to be by fly only. All fishing is from the right bank. By arrangement with the neighbouring estate there is no left bank fishing on the Relugas Middle and Top beats.
  2. The fishing is split into two 2 rod beats, Logie and Relugas, with Relugas sub divided into Middle and Top.  Beats can be taken together or separately. Logie is fished Monday to Saturday, Relugas Middle on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Relugas Top on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Beats change at midnight.
  3. Fishermen must contact Logie Estate office on 01309 611300 a day or so before arrival to organise being shown onto the river. A map of pools, beats and access routes will be provided.
  4. Bio-security is important to the future of the river and anglers are asked to observe protection measures. The Findhorn District Fishery Board Conservation Code will be strictly observed. To summarise: All fish caught up to 14th May inclusive must be released. From 15th May, all salmon over 9 lbs / 4 kg / 28 inches / 72 cm are to be returned.  Below that measurement at least 70% of salmon and 50% of grilse caught should be released and a maximum of 1 salmon and / or 2 grilse per rod per week may be retained. In September all fish are to be returned. No gaffs or tailers are allowed.
  5. The Findhorn District Fishery Board Bio-security measures will be strictly observed and all fishermen in the party must sign the Bio-security Declaration. (Also available at http://www.fnlft.org.uk/downloads/)
  6. The Estate recommends that barbless hooks are used, fishermen are in possession of a disgorger and that knotless nets are used. All possible care should be taken when returning fish to the river, they should be handled as little, and gently, as possible and should not be removed from the water.
  7. The catch should be reported at the end of each day of fishing to Logie Estate Office on 01309 611300. If the office is closed, please leave a message on the answering machine with the date, weight and pool. Please also report a nil catch day.
  8. Dogs are allowed on the river but must be kept strictly under control at all times. The Estate reserves the right to ask tenants to remove dogs if they are considered to be out of control.
  9. Rod, line and fly size are dependent on prevailing weather and water conditions and personal choice. In general, maximum rod length needed is 13ft with a size 8 or 9 line, usually floating. Fly sizes range from 6 – 8 in the spring down to 12 or less in summer low water.
  10. Safety must be considered at all times. All beats have a variety of pools with some suitable for most heights of water. Little wading is necessary and river paths are good however the fishing is within the Findhorn gorge, access to some of the pools is quite steep and a degree of rock scrambling is often necessary when playing and landing fish. Please be aware that a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required. A buoyancy aid for each rod is provided and should be collected from Logie Estate Office on arrival, and returned to the Estate Office (or to the outbuilding opposite if office is closed) on departure. Logie Estate strongly recommends that buoyancy aids are worn when fishing and not doing so is entirely at fishermen’s own risk. Please pay attention at all times, avoid slips and falls, wear appropriate footwear, look out for overhead electricity lines, watch the weather and pay attention to livestock. Take extra care if fishing alone.
  11. Anglers need to supply or hire their own equipment (except buoyancy aids, which are provided).
  12. Ghillieing/tuition is available by on a first come, first served basis. This must be booked in advance with the Estate Office and is subject to availability. A half day ghillieing/tuition is approx. 3 hours, full day approx. 6 hours. Please contact the estate office or check our website for current rates. Rates do not include discretionary tips.
  13. Rod, Reel & Line hire is available by on a first come, first served basis. This must be booked in advance with the Estate Office and is subject to availability. Please contact the estate office or check our website for current rates. A rod, reel and line set is for one person and is subject to a fully refundable damage deposit of £100.
  14. Aside from fishermen, others, including rafters and kayakers, enjoy this stretch of river and mutual respect and consideration is expected.
  15. Bookings are confirmed when initial payment is received. Subsequent changes in dates or number or rods are entirely subject to the Estate’s discretion and to availability. Change of dates, if accepted, incur an administration fee. In the event of a cancellation the tenant must advise Logie Estate immediately, whereupon Logie will endeavour to re-let. If a new tenant can be found the deposit will be returned less any expenses incurred for advertising, office costs, etc., and less any shortfalls in discounted list price. Until such time as a vacancy has been re-let the hirer is responsible for making any further payment by the due dates. Failure to do so may mean that the hirer forfeits any refund if the dates are re-let. If it is not possible to re-let, all payments are still payable by the due date(s). It is unlikely that a refund can be made for a late cancellation. Logie Estate recommends that fishermen take out relevant cancellation insurance.
  16. Subletting fishing is only allowed with Logie Estate’s permission.
  17. Logie Estate reserves the right to immediately withdraw fishing without compensation from anyone who breaks these or associated conditions, or flouts normal standards of behaviour or fishing etiquette.