Wild lupines are at their peak bloom in Bethel. There are beautiful displays of the flowers in local gardens and also along the road banks between West Bethel and Shelburne, and on Route 26 between Snow Falls and South Paris. If you want to grow lupine, now is the time to think about collecting wild lupine seeds. My family had little luck growing lupine from cultivated seeds. The lupine’s long tap root makes it difficult to transplant. My mother, however, grew lupines by collecting wild seeds and sowing them in her garden. They reproduced beautifully. The plants live 2-3 years and reproduce by scattering their seeds. Once the seed pods start to develop, you can collect the seeds by tying mesh (or pantyhose) tightly around the flower. When the pods burst, the seeds will be caught in the mesh. Scatter the seeds in the fall. Some gardeners say that the seeds will not germinate unless they freeze during the winter. Others say that the plants won’t blossom the first year. That is not true. I have first-year lupines that I planted last fall that have beautiful purple, pink, and blue blossoms. Be careful where you grow lupine. All parts of the flowers can be poisonous to humans, pets, horses, and other livestock.
Sunday afternoon my mother and I watched a bobcat running south along the railroad tracks that parallel Route 26 near our home. We watched her run and leap along the tracks for almost a minute before she disappeared from our view. I investigated the surrounding area hoping to find tracks, or get a picture of her. Of course, she left no tracks in the rock bed of the railroad tracks, and a search of the surrounding woods and the mud along the river banks revealed nothing. However, I did find some late-blooming lady slippers and mayflowers tucked away under the dense pine trees.
The wild strawberries are ripe (and delicious this year) and the wild blackberries have blossoms. Late June is usually the time for cultivated strawberries, including pick-your-own. This year, the cool spring weather delayed blooms in some areas. There is a wonderful website that lists many local farm stands and pick-your-own farms. The site is www.pickyourown.org. The best practice is to pick a farm and call them directly to see what produce is ready.
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