Meconopsis betonicifolia

To grow the blue poppy I would have to move house, but it is a plant of such dreamlike beauty that I sometimes think it would be worth it. A native of that legendary triangle of the high Himalayas where Tibet, China and Burma share their boundaries, it likes everything I have not got – lots of soft water, peaty soil, a cool, moist atmosphere and protection from windIt is celebrated at the National Trust for Scotland garden at Inverewe. Although known to western botanists in 1886, the first successful introduction to Britain was made by Frank Kingdon Ward in 1924. This plant has stems up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall; the flowers are tall and sky-blue with bright yellow stamens, several to a stem, and the leaves are poppylike and bristly. Experts differ as to the best way to grow it, but I pin my faith on the Keeper of the Savill Garden, in Windsor Great Park, where this poppy is one of a thousand delights, who recommends that it be grown as a short-lived perennial. He raises it from seed, does not allow it to flower for one or even two years, until the plants are sizeable clumps, when they will last for three or four years. If you have the right conditions, put in the plants in groups 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart, cut off the flowers in the first year, and pray. It is a natural companion for candelabra primulas and other boggy plants.

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