A Wolf in Lupine’s Clothing

Belgian Malinois

We have been taking our 18 month old Belgian shepherd, Leah, to obedience training for a little over a month now. This is the second time that we have taken her. We took her as a puppy when we lived in Pennsylvania. The problem is that we did not keep up with her training after the move to Maine (moving, starting new jobs, and running 4 kids around left little time to train a dog). It was our fault. She is a beautiful dog but I am afraid that she is too much for us to handle. Just yesterday, she ran away from me and I spent 45 minutes chasing her down around the neighborhood. She is wicked smart and this is all a game to her. Sometimes she is a sweet puppy and then other times she is like a wolf.

I’ll explain why I mention this (besides hoping that one of you might want a puppy). As we were pulling into the driveway tonight from obedience training, my wife, Carrie, and I were going through our list of things to do tonight.

If you’ll do the dishes, I’ll put the kids to bed…

Oh, wait, can you wait up for Alex? (he was coming back from a field trip to Boston and a lacrosse game in Bath)

Sure, I need to write up my blog for Studio G.

Which plant are you going to write about this week?

And before I could mention the wonderful new dahlia in the garden, our 9 year old, Zoe blurted out, “Lupines!”


See, if you’ve never been in coastal Maine in late May into early June, you’ve never witnessed the mystique of lupines in Maine. They are everywhere. And they are beautiful. I have tried and killed many lupines in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Here in Maine, they grow in the ditches. Our neighbor has an unmown bank where they are flowering en masse. The problem is that this beautiful plant: Lupinus polyphyllus, is somewhat invasive in New England. Native to the west coast of the United States, it likes it here a lot. It pops up everywhere and is hard to control. Like our Belgian shepherd when she acts like a wolf, which is Lupus in Latin. I bet you were wondering how I would make the connection between our dog and lupines.

Although I cannot advocate for planting more lupines (Miss Rhumphius has already done her fair share, thank you very much), I can tell you that they are beautiful to see in their shades of pinks, purples, and blues. There are new selections coming from the UK including the red lupine: Lupinus ‘Beefeater.’ These selections may be a little more well behaved in the garden.

Beefeater lupine

How about you? Are you able to grow lupines? If you live here in Maine, how do you feel about them?


Photos: commons.wikimedia.org, fldoyle.com, binnyplants.com

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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  1. Jenn on June 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    You’ve got a working breed dog there. If you can, keep taking classes. Try a little bit of everything out there. Performance Obedience, Rally Obedience, Agility, Nosework, Dockdiving… all of these will focus that natural drive and give you ‘hooks’ to entice her into better ‘on the flat’ (ie, around the house) behaviors.

    If the kids are old enough, get them involved in trick training? Kids, dogs and agility are a magic combination.

    And, at 18 months, she’s still an adolescent. Keep working with her. She looks like a gem!

    • rodneyeason on June 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Thanks, Jenn.
      I sometimes think of her like a Ferrari of dogs. Fast, beautiful, but a lot of work!

  2. [email protected] Trekker on June 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Indeed, Lupines are native to the Western US. One of the real pleasures of living next to the mountains is that at sea level the Lupines begin blooming in late May and as you go up in elevation you can enjoy spring into early July when the last of the meadows melt out…Love your photos, I am going to have to get out into the woods to keep this going.

  3. wendy on June 12, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Love the Lupines! They are a delightful welcome of spring here on the west coast.

    And Leah is a beauty. Awesome spirit.

    • rodneyeason on June 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Thanks, Wendy!

  4. Rebekah on June 12, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Am a new (as in the last two weeks) fan of these flowers. I saw them at a flower show in Dublin and couldn’t get enough of the Manhattan Lights variety.

    • rodneyeason on June 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

      I will have to look up the Manhattan Lights.

  5. Laurie Brown on June 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I love lupins and grow the successfully despite my heavy soil, but I only love them in spring/early summer. Midsummer, they collapse into an ugly pile of powdery mildew. But dealing with that pile of PM is worth it. Mine are all purple; I need some of the new colors.

  6. Elizabeth on September 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I’m trying to find a lupine field in Southern Maine- Are you aware of any?? 🙂

    • Rochelle on September 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

      I know of a few in NH – but none off the top of my head in Southern Maine. Let me know and I pull out a map…

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