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Poppies Galore

Poppies would have to be one of the most colourful flowers to have in your garden, rewarding you with a continuous display for many months over late spring and into autumn if you sow them at staggered intervals...
Gerard
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With over 200 different species worldwide that could be broadly classified as poppies, this blog could turn into a mammoth edition, so instead we’ll concentrate on the species and varieties that we offer in our range...
 
One of the most celebrated and well known is the Red Anzac Poppy. Papaver rhoeas is the common field poppy from Western Europe that is used to commemorate the World War I Battlefields of Flanders in Belgium.
If you travel round Europe, variations in colour can be found of this where natural selections have allowed for different shades to evolve.
 
Flanders Poppy
 
In the same species but slightly different are the Shirley Poppies named after Reverend Wilkes from the village of Shirley in England. In the mid 1800s, he noticed some colourful variations occurring amongst his poppies and set about isolating and breeding them to gain many variations in colour and numbers of petals.
 
Shirley Poppy
 
Iceland Poppy, Papaver nudicaule, does originate in Iceland but also from the similarly cooler regions of eastern Canada and Greenland. They make a great cut flower but don’t have a particularly long vase life. However, searing the end of the stem in hot water or over a flame stops the sap running and will certainly extend this.
 
Iceland Poppies
 
Poppy Tangerine Parfait, Papaver rupifragum, is a hardy perennial poppy from the Spanish/ Moroccan region of the Mediterranean, happy to be left alone to naturalize in a sunny corner of the garden without too much fuss and bother. It develops a tap root that draws up nutrients from below - you’ll need a decent trowel to dislodge unwanted plants that self sow into your paths.
 
Poppy Tangerine Parfait
 
Peony Poppy - Papaver paeoniflorum and Papaver laciniatum are members of the Somniferum Opium poppy family but have had their opiate alkaloids bred out of them to concentrate more on the beauty of their flowers. If the intention was to use them for something else, you'll be wasting your time with these! Ornamental Peony Poppies have been bred to have a double row of petals giving a nice full flower head and come in an array of colours from the soft creams and pastels through to vibrant reds and even a black.
 
Peony Poppies
 
Ladybird Poppy, Papaver commutatum, actually looks like a red ladybird with several dark spots on its back. Stunning when sown en masse as all poppies do.
 
Ladybird Poppies
 
Last but not least are the California Poppies, Eschscholzia californica, the name gives it away that they’re from California where they are the Official State Flower. In the wild the natural colour is orange, but successful breeding has given us amazing variations in doubles and singles, bi-colours and pastels and many variations in between. They self sow brilliantly but unfortunately tend to revert to the original orange colour after a season or two - it must be a very strong gene that overrides the newly bred colour. The only way round this is to weed out any self sown plants and resow a fresh packet every year of the desired colour.
 
California Poppies

Poppies prefer a cooler environment in which to germinate and grow, so spring and autumn are the best times to be sowing them.
All poppies have very small seed and prefer light to germinate so only lightly cover seed if you do at all.
Tamp the soil or seed raising mix down first giving a firm surface to sow onto.
Mist soil to keep it damp rather than heavily sprinkling it as the water droplets can wash the seed deeper and result in a variable germination rate.
Poppies do prefer to be sown directly in the garden but will handle transplanting if done carefully when small.
Plan on sowing some seed every few weeks to give yourself an extended flowering period when they mature.
 
And remember the enjoyment isn’t all yours, bees and other beneficial insects seek out all poppies for their delicious nectar and pollen.
Gerard
 1 comments
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1 Comments

alistair says ...
Which poppies are best to grow for seeds for baking?

KINGS SEEDS says: The most common edible variety of poppy seed is harvested from the opium poppy (papaver somniferum). We don't have these in our range.

Oh dear!

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