When in full flower the Oriental Poppy often overpowers the smaller and more subtle blooms which surround it. The bowl- shaped flowers are up to 6 in. across – colourful and usually black-based petals enclosing a boss of black anthers.

Unfortunately it loses this competitive nature when flowering is over – large leafless gaps are left in the border until the bristly, deeply-cut leaves reappear. Papaver is easy to grow and sure to please if you avoid heavy and badly-drained land and remember to stake the flower stems. Cut the plants down – to ground level once the flowering season is over.

Divide the plants every three years.

VARIETIES: The basic details of P. orientate are height 3 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: May-June. Many named varieties are available, ranging in colour from pure white to deep red. Pick from ‘Perry’s White’ (white). ‘Mrs Perry’ (pink), ‘Marcus Perry’ (orange-scarlet), ‘Salmon Glow’ (double, salmon-orange) and ‘Goliath’ (red).

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained soil will do – thrives best in full sun.

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in spring or take root cuttings in winter.

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