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The rain we’ve been having lately has popped a bunch of seedlings in our yard.

lupine seedling

I’m always excited to see these seedlings coming up, because I know in a few short months the seedlings will grow into showy flowers called lupines.

Lupines are fun because they self-seed readily. I first planted these over 15 years ago and they have come up every year since. On the other hand, they have not spread aggressively to other areas; they stay right where I put them.

The name lupine is thought to come from the idea that lupines were like “wolves” (lupus) eating all the nutrients out of the soil, because they always seem to grow in poor soil. Now people have realized that these members of the pea family can make their own nutrients in conjunction with bacteria found in nodules on their roots.  Thus lupines can grow in soils that are too poor for other plants rather than causing the soil to be poor. I’m not sure what that says about our yard. ☺

lupine seedling

Lupines are fascinating to children because the hairs on the leaves catch raindrops and leave perfectly round droplets of water shining like gems.

lupine seedling

Down side:  If you are thinking of planting lupines, be aware that the foliage of some types are poisonous.

Check the color of these flowers.


Now look at the centers of these.


Are they a different species? No, lupine flowers change color when they have been pollinated. Bees are attracted by the white centers of un-pollinated flowers, but ignore the red-centered ones (bees don’t see red). Lupines “talking to” bees, cool!

The sight of the lupines coming up always reminds me of the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. In this popular book, the main character spreads lupine seeds so that the flowers bloom everywhere. So check out a copy and you can enjoy the beauty of lupines any time.

After the posts last week about pumpkins, I received a question about whether a fresh pumpkin seed (that came directly from the pumpkin) would grow if you planted it. Here is the answer:

pumpkin growing

I planted these seeds last week after I took them from a fresh pumpkin. Looks like they are more than capable of growing. They are planted in moist potting soil in a newspaper pot.

By the way, the question was a good one because some seeds, for example apple, pear and blueberry, need a cool period ( a winter dormancy) before they will germinate.

November is a good month for gardening in Arizona. We plant many what we call "cold season crops" at this time of year. Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots and chard can all withstand the slight frosts we get here in the winter, and so go into the ground now.

brussel sprouts

The basil in this photograph does better in the warm summer months, but will make it through if we don't get a heavy frost or if someone remembers to cover it.

herb garden

Hope everyone has a good week. I think I'm going to go make a salad.

After several months of heavy construction, the new Growing With Science website is ready for reveal.

The website has science activities organized by age and theme. I've tried to keep the pages simple and direct. There will probably occasionally be a few typos and oddities as I develop it over the next few months. Let me know if you have major difficulties with anything.

Here is the URL address:

The first theme is growing plants from kitchen scraps, or other items found around the kitchen. Most of these activities can be carried out indoors for little or no cost. Simply click on the science activity link and then pick one of the links listed under your child's age level.

The second theme is Weather for Kids. If you like pretty photographs of clouds,  visit the cloud classification activity and try the slide show.

Hope you find a fun activity that you just have to try.