Purple is one of my favourite colours, and one much under-rated I feel.
I’ve taken us back yet again to Iceland. You’re probably sick of the place, but Iceland offers so much for the landscape photographer that I just can’t keep away.
One thing you generally can’t say about Iceland’s landscape is that it’s particularly colourful. In the winter, it’s gleaming white snow and bright blue skies, in the summer it’s black rock and dusty green vegetation. The most common exception to this is the nootka lupine, or purple or Alaskan lupine. Nootka lupine was introduced into Iceland during the 1940s to re-vegetate some Iceland’s barren soil, and now it carpets even areas that were thought inhospitable to all life. It’s a weed, and it survives the freezing and dark conditions under metres of snow for six months or more to spring back every year in summer.
When I first saw nootka lupine, I fell in love with its contrasting purple and green colours, but now I know it’s quite controversial in Iceland. Some love it for the same reasons I did and because it returns barren fields to life, others hate it as it’s changing the natural look of Iceland, as well as badly impacting native species of moss, lichen and low shrubs as it grows tall and crowded so it smothers them. As much as I love the purple, I don’t really want all of Iceland to be under a purple carpet. I hope nootka lupine remains just a purple accent on an otherwise stark canvas.