Monday, August 15, 2022

Poppies - A Classic for your Wildflower Meadow

Poppies have long been a favourite of mine.  There is something decidedly elegant about their tissue thin petals, when the sun hits in just the right way you can see right through them.  They appear so fragile with their large flowers waving atop tall thin stems.  Yet poppies are incredibly resilient and are probably best known as a common addition to wildflower meadows.  Not exactly the place for a fussy flower.
I have been playing with poppies this year.  I have been growing a simple pink variety for some years but decided this was the year to expand my horizons.   
My standard pink poppy

Papaver somniferum is of eastern Mediterranean heritage.  They have been known by many names throughout history.  Breadseed poppy for their edible seeds.  Opium poppy for their drug producing capabilities.  For those who love flowers they are known for their beauty. 

Corn poppies
Now there are a number of other poppy species.  California poppies, Icelandic Poppies, Corn Poppies, Himilayann Poppies, Oriental Poppies.  The list goes on.  All are beautiful but I have focused on the Breadseed Poppy as a personal favourite. This is an annual flower that combines well in my country garden.  Flowers appear in my veggie beds as well as the flower beds and are equally at home. 

Not only are the flowers gorgeous but the seed heads are equally interesting.  Dried they make a great addition to fall bouquets.
This year I received a packet of poppy seed as a gift.  As poppies can be crossbred and there are numerous cultivars available I thought I would give it a try to create my own cultivar.  My mother had a double variety growing in her garden for years that I loved but I was unable to replicate the conditions of her garden to make it happy here.  So I planted seed from a number of different sources this year to see what I might create.  
Bees love poppies and simply planting them together can create conditions for cross breeding.  Dusting poppies together by hand can also work.  The possible combinations are endless.  Colour, petal shape, doubles.  Each year I intend to select for beauty, sturdiness and health in our maritime climate.  I don't know what the end result will look like but I'm excited about the possibilities.

I started collecting seed in the last couple weeks.  I fall planted numerous poppies so I have seed already.  Poppies easily dry on the stalk and it's a simple task to shake them to release the seed into a bucket.

The weather being a bit rainy I did snip some heads and laid them to dry in the garage so mold wouldn't take over.

I'm looking forward to next year already.  What exciting flowers will surprise me I can't wait to see.

No comments: