One summer, when gardens were for lounging in, I remember lying listening to a strange cracking noise which I eventually tracked down to the explosive seed capsules of some lupins. Over the years I have carried on growning lupins but never been so blown away by them as I was at Chelsea this year by the display put together by Collection Holders, Westcountry Nurseries. Think lupin, think purple, think again. I have never seen such amazing reds and oranges in a display.
And yet at the other end of the spectrum I searched out the World Vision garden as I had read in the Guardian about their attempts to find seeds of Lupinus mutabilis and grow them in time for the show. Under the heading of ‘Rare Plant Growers’ the task undertaken by Peter and Susann Laughton of plantify.co.uk was described and I was intrigued to see if they had been successful. Although lupins are usually toxic, Lupinus mutabilis, also known as Andean Lupin, produces a bean, or tarwi, which is an important source of protein in the Andes. Hence the inclusion in the World Vision garden.
In one corner of the garden was a collection of foliage in pots – lupin plants yet to throw up a flower spike. One specimen with a tightly closed flower stem had been included in the planting. Talking to the team about their endeavours to create this garden resulted in a plant to take home to nurture and some seeds so that I can try to recreate an Andean pasture. Interestingly the instructions on the seeds say that they are toxic, so I assume that like dried red kidney beans, tarwi need to be boiled rapidly to degrade the toxin before they are useable as a food.
But I think that I will also have to find a reason to head off to Bideford, Devon to see some more of the cultivars available from Westcountry Nurseries.