gardening

Poppy

Red poppy

For reasons unknown to me, I have always had an affinity to the wayward. A being with its own mind who surges forth without heed has never failed to capture my imagination. Fickle natured cats, colourful friends and the odd eccentric uncle are dotted fondly throughout my history. So therefore, it should not come as a surprise, that in the floral arena, a poppy will win me over faster than any long-stemmed dozen possibly could.

As far as my experience is concerned, poppies are a law unto themselves. Try cultivating them into obedient rows similar to zinnias or marigolds and you’re bound for frustration. Poppies emerge from where poppies choose. As evidenced above, this rogue poppy produced itself unannounced from a flowerpot that had been designated for another species. Not particularly fussed by this, the poppy is flourishing happily with a lamb’s ear. Like anyone who has sat in a contorted position for a lengthy period in order to accommodate a sleeping feline, so the lamb’s ear will need to withstand its sardine-like confine until the poppy finishes flowering.

If I cast my mind back over previous seasons, the most glorious poppies that have ever existed in my garden were not the ones whose seeds were carefully laid on the soil and devotedly watered, but those whose seeds were captured by the breeze and laid unattended until sprouting time was deemed appropriate. Poppy life experience has taught me to shake their desiccated heads randomly across the garden beds, and to be enchanted when, without notice, a poppy appears. You can sprout the seeds in small pots or trays and transplant, but the mortality rate is often high. Those that survive though, will give you the most spectacular display and boost your horticultural ego to dazzling heights.

Tall poppies are just that. They rise high above their herbaceous neighbours and steal the limelight – because they are successful and glorious. It is pointless though to cut them down, as their vase life is very limited. Like the human variety, they should be left in their own environment to shine.

As a gardener, if I can persuade you to do nothing else – grow poppies.

Postscript: these red poppies are now pods, beautiful heads full of maturing seeds. If you would like to share in the progeny, leave a comment and I will send you some at seed harvest time.

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