PAPAVER or POPPY

There are perennial, biennial and annual poppies, all attractive border plants with large, brilliantly coloured blooms, demanding a sunny position and well-drained soil.

Oriental Poppies:

These are sound border perennials, rather invasive in some gardens. They prefer a light, dry soil and are perfectly happy in very hot weather when many other plants are wilting. They are inclined to flop and staking is usually necessary (this job is often tricky as stems of some varieties do not lend themselves readily to conventional staking). On light soils autumn planting, not less than 18 in. apart, is advisable, as this ensures a good display the following summer.

Oriental poppies associate well with tall bearded irises and lupins as they bloom in May and June. The height is 2—3 ft. They are increased by division in spring when odd shoots which appear at intervals near the parent plant can be dug up and re-planted. As cut flowers, Oriental poppies are admittedly attractive but do not keep more than a few days.

Those with a more tidy habit and less tendency to flop are noted.

Col. Bowles: bright scarlet. Fairly erect grower.

Indian Chief: mahogany-red.

Marcus Perry: orange-scarlet, very large flowers up to 8 in. across.

Erect grower.

Mrs Perry: shrimp-pink.

Mrs Stobart: cerise-pink.

Perry’s White: white with black blotches at base.

Peter Pan: salmon-scarlet. Short grower to about 1 ft.

Rembrandt: another brilliant orange-scarlet.

Salmon Glow: bright salmon.

Stormtorch: orange-red. Erect grower.

Sultana: salmon-rose. Erect grower.

Iceland Poppies:

These are usually treated as biennials, derived from Papaver nudicaule, and also bloom in May and June. They grow to about 2 ft. Seed is sown thinly in June (barely covered as it is very small) and the seedlings transferred to their permanent quarters in early autumn. Iceland poppies can also be sown a little later in boxes or pots in a cold frame. They are excellent for cutting, but must be cut in the bud stage. There are several excellent mixed strains, including the Sandford, Coonara, Kelmscott, Stark and Gartref mixtures. The colour range includes many delightful pastel shades, some blooms having picotee edges. Pink, salmon, rose, apricot, yellow, orange and scarlet predominate. The annual poppies are treated as ordinary hardy annuals. They grow to 2 ft. and should be thinned to about 9 in. The Shirley strain is good and is available with either single or double blooms. The opium poppies (derived from Papaver somniferum) are taller, reaching about 3 ft., with distinctive grey-green foliage; the double strains with blooms resembling carnations are the more popular.

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