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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The purple season

This is the marvelous time of year in Maine when purple flowers amass.

In friendly competition for kingly glory are the lilac and the lupine, untended and free. The lilac bush stands 10 or 15 feet high and often matches that in width. You can't get the sight of them out of your eyes, nor the smell from your nose. The other day I smelled lilac even on Beech Hill, hundreds of feet in the air, no bush for a mile that I could see.

Lupine effortlessly carpets fields along the highway, in front of a house. They propagate underground, and the one we planted last year in the oceanside garden has quadrupled in size and will take over from iris and phlox and lily if we let it. Like the lilac, it presents sometimes in white. Unlike the lilac, it stoops to red and pink.

Such royal vigor in a difficult climate!

A little tamer, that is, more cultivated, the rhododendron in these parts stays closer to house than roams in the wild. Warmer places like New Hampshire and Massachusetts and Ohio show them off en masse. And here the purple is rarer, the flowers tending to pink and white.

Very tame indeed are the irises just now bursting from those tight buds. Gorgeous, of course, but dependent on human hands to weed and feed.

Then there are the vestiges of purple infusing the beach rose, wild geranium, clover.

I feel like a prince among leaves.

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