Monday, March 28, 2011

Papaveraceae - Part Last

Who doesn't like poppies with their crepe paper petals and gaudy colors. Their only drawback, as far as I can see, is that they go dormant shortly after blooming and leave a hole in your perennial border. We have enough things planted, that you mostly don't notice the ones in the proper garden, and our main poppy beds - 2 wide 80, maybe 100 foot rows - are between rows of peonies and daylilies that pretty much take over at the times when the poppies either aren't blooming or aren't there at all. This first picture is the 'normal' orange poppy. Which comes in various shades of orange, some lighter, some darker, but all really orange.
The one below is 'Big Jim' . This isn't an especially good photo, but you get the idea that this is one really red blossom, about the color of the Memorial Day poppies my father used to sell for the American Legion.
This next one is not quite as common, and seems to be a bit less hardy than the solid colored ones. Its name is 'Carousel'. I think it is not quite as tall as some of the other either.
Being someone who just loves purple, 'Patty's Plum' has to be one of my favorites. Purple or lavender poppies are pretty unusual. This one was a bear to get started, but the third try was the charm. It has been living here quite happily ever since it decided that it liked us. It has increased nicely and usually has lots of blooms. It is in the shade in the afternoon, which isn't usually what poppies like, but I'm not complaining since it grows and thrives.
This pink one isn't named, one of several we bought by color awhile back. It's nice having some of these other colors besides just the orange ones.
This orange sherbet color belongs to 'Helen Elizabeth'. She lives next to the pond occupied by the Imperial Lotus. Good thing she blooms fairly early because as gorgeous as she is, nothing else gets noticed once the lotus are in bloom.
Last but not least, is 'Watermelon'. No point trying to describe the actual color (which isn't quite right in this picture) except to say that it really looks like the inside of a watermelon.
Now, if you just came for the pictures, you can get on with your day. For the rest, here is a little about Oriental Poppies. Actually there is a bit of confusion here. Papaver orientale and Papaver bracteayum are both native to the area from Turkey to Iran and the Caucasus. One is slightly smaller than the other with more slender stems, but they seem to be sold interchangeably.

As far as growing them, they are exceedingly accommodating. They will grow on pretty much any soil as long as it's not waterlogged. Sun is best. The best time to divide them is late summer, while dormant, just before the resprout in the fall. If you haven't grown them before, their life cycle can seem a bit peculiar. They come up in the fall, a lovely rosette of leaves that stay fairly small through the winter. When nice weather returns in the late spring, they start growing and then flower in summer - after which they promptly turn brown and die back, to rest until it's time to come up again in the fall.

Oriental Poppies can be grown from seed. You'll get a variety in the colors, even in a packet that is supposedly all one color. Seeds can be started early indoors in pots, or sown where you want them to grow. Spring is the best time. As they grow, they will need to be spread out and the best time for this is autumn. Expect to wait 2 or 3 years for your first blooms.

Where do we go next? Not sure, but I'll be back with a new topic in a couple of days, as soon as I take some more spring photos.


1 comment:

abby jenkins said...

beautiful photos! what an incredible collection of poppies, thanks for sharing