Lupine Season

June 01, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Evening Glow Lupines White MountainsEvening GlowLupines watch as the last light of the day casts warm alpenglow on the Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

Jefferson, New Hampshire
Late spring is a special time of year in New Hampshire's high country: lupine season. 

It is also true that this is black fly season, which is not so wonderful - but you have to take the bitter with the sweet. 

In late May and the first part of June the White Mountains serve as a stunning backdrop for picturesque natural displays of these lovely flowers. Mountain's GiftMountain's GiftLupine season
(Sugar Hill, New Hampshire)
Fields, pastures and roadsides are decorated with spikes of vibrant color, and many visitors are drawn to the area to enjoy the blooms. 

As with autumn foliage, the "show" can be unpredictable - both in terms of timing and how productive various fields might be from one year to the next. Somewhat mercurial. Always magical.

How do you find the flowers? There are maps, but my preferred method in terms of learning the ropes was to get on back roads and explore. And definitely chat up the locals. Early on I befriended someone who lives in Sugar Hill; she was very helpful in terms of giving me a heads up each spring regarding the progression of the display.

Speaking of Sugar Hill, I'd recommend starting your quest there, but know that there are fields to be enjoyed in and around many mountain communities: Franconia, Jefferson, Bethlehem, Easton, Littleton, and Lisbon. 

I'm always amazed at the variety of colors. Blue and purple I expected, but little did I realize that I'd find white, pink, and a myriad of other hues. Lavender. Pale pink. Blush yellow. Mauve. Blush peach. Weird hybrid combinations, like this:

IdiosyncraticIdiosyncraticUnusual color combination on a lupine blooming near Pearl Lake in Grafton County, New Hampshire.

By the way, I've only ever seen this yellow and purple combination on three plants, two of which are pictured here. I never found them again in subsequent seasons at that same location, and I've not come across this color pairing anywhere else. 

Even if the flowers aren't particularly photogenic, I always take a snapshot of anything unusual, just as a record. The blush peach plants I saw one year are a good example: another one-of-a-kind sighting (at least for me). Field of DreamsField of DreamsLupine field at Sugar Hill
(White Mountains, New Hampshire)
Are these Fields of Dreams? I think so.

Believe me, I would otherwise avoid the mountains in late May and early June to keep from being ravaged by the black flies (to which I'm allergic - and who seem to know this and therefore attack me with unbridled enthusiasm) but I cannot say no to this fantastic display.

Lupine season quickly became just as much of an obsession for me as foliage season. Be forewarned: you may become addicted to these lovely spikes, too.

About That Mailbox

Robert Frost and his family lived in Franconia, New Hampshire full-time from 1915 through 1920. He returned to that farm every summer until his wife's death in 1938. You'll find the Frost Place - and his mailbox - on Ridge Road. The house is now home to poets-in-residence as well as a museum.

God made a beauteous garden
With lovely flowers strown,
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live,
And said "To you, my children,
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowers tend,
But keep the pathway open
Your home is at the end."

God's Garden
-Robert Frost (circa 1890)


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