The Poppy is a flower of nostalgia – a reminder of lost childhood and the fallen dead. The buds bow their heads and the delicate petals are short-lived, but modern garden varieties are so gaily coloured that the sad symbolism is lost. Theare borne on long stalks – the single varieties are cup-shaped with four wide overlapping petals; the double forms are ball-like with many petals. All Poppies have a dainty appearance but do not need staking. Removing dead blooms, however, is necessary in order to prolong the flowering season.
VARIETIES: The most popularPoppies are descended from P. rhoeas, the Corn Poppy which grows wild in the countryside. From this wild flower Rev. Wilks evolved the ‘Shirley Poppy’ which grows about 2 ft high and is available in both single and double forms. The usual colours are pink, white and red. A rather similar annual is P. commutatum ‘Ladybird’ (1.5 ft) which bears black-hearted crimson petals. The showy annual is P. somniferum, the Opium Poppy – choose the ‘Paeony-flowered Mixture’ for its double blooms. Some Poppies are treated as , in summer and thinning the following spring. P. nudicaule (Iceland Poppy) is the favourite one – the tissue-paper petals have the widest colour range of all and they are excellent for if you gather them when the flowers are in bud and sear the cut ends with a match. Typical varieties are ‘Champagne Bubbles’, ‘San Remo’ and ‘Kelmscotf. The small P. alpinum or Alpine Poppy is also treated as a . White, yellow or orange flowers are borne on hairless .
SITE AND SOIL: Any reasonable garden soil will do – thrives in sun or light shade.
PLANT DETAILS: Height 6 in.-3 ft.
Spacing: 9 in.-1 ft.
Flowering period: May-August (P. rhoeas, P. nudicaule and P. alpinum), July-September (P. somniferum).
PROPAGATION: All Poppies dislike being transplanted. With annual varietiesin April where they are to flower. With seeds in August – thin to required spacing in March or April.