Friday, July 2nd, 2010...12:00 am

TheGardenLady’s Love of Poppies

Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppy) by Luigi FDV

TheGardenLady hopes to write about each type of plant on her property. To start off the list, I would like to talk about the Iceland poppiesPapaver nudicaule.

I love poppies and have tried, unsuccessfully, to raise them for years. The major reason, I believe, I have not had success is because my property is mostly shaded. I may be wrong because a friend had poppies along the back of her house for years and I usually visited them when there was shade.  I just do not know the amount of sun she had in this location. If she had at least 6 hours of sun, then they would thrive. Poppies need a lot of sun.

My friend very generously gave me poppy plants.  I believe they were the oriental ones, but they always, sadly, left my garden after one year of bloom and never returned the second year. But I am persistent and try planting plants in different sites on my property in the hopes that one spot will make the poppies happy enough to return the following year. Mostly I have planted the Iceland poppies because I love orange and yellow in the garden. None has ever reseeded.

This year once again I planted Iceland poppies in three different sunny spots. This year I also planted seeds of the California poppyEschscholzia Californica. A neighbor has them and they reseed and bloom for him in the same spot every year. I hope some of the California poppies will take- I forgot where I planted them, so I am hoping one day as I inspect my garden some California poppies will appear to say, “We’re here.”

As I said, I had never been lucky enough for my poppies to reseed. But this year I saw a strange plant in one flower bed. To pull or not to pull was the question. It was such an unusual looking “weed” that l left it thinking that it didn’t look too difficult to pull if it later turned out to be an obnoxious weed. Then a second “weed” started growing across the walk from the first. The first “weed” kept growing and growing. I kept asking gardener friends if they could identify the plant. Most thought it looked like lettuce. So to really ID the plant, I needed the flower. The second plant grew much more slowly. Then, voila, one day I saw the buds on the first plant. They were the give away. Finally, after many years of trying, I had an Iceland Poppy that had self seeded. Now almost every day my “weed” produces a pink flower for me.

I read that pink is the recessive Iceland Poppy color. I had never planted a pink poppy. It is very exciting for me to see this 3 ft. tall poppy with its ethereal pink flower.  The second plant is just showing its first bud. I will be curious to see what color it is. And the three other Iceland poppies that I planted this year are orange and yellow.   Iceland Poppies are native to the northern parts of North America and Asia. They are said to like poor gravelly soil but the plants that self seeded for me are in an area richly mulched with aged horse manure.

I found some on-line sites that sell poppy seeds.  See here.  I plan on ordering the blue Meconopsis poppy next year.  See here.

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