Poppies Forever

The Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are one of the most ephemeral and beautiful parts of the gardens. The flowers are here for a day or two and then form seed heads where the soft-as-silk petals once were. These beauties begin each year in February with a dream (the same one I sow all seeds with when the world is cold and dreary). Hope is contained within each teeny tiny poppy seed, and it all comes to fruition in June. What a lovely month. It is just now starting to feel like summer – the intensity of the sun and humidity in the air is just beyond comfortable, but the gardens are bursting with color and life.

Papaver rhoeas ‘Angel’s Choir’

Each poppy flower is here for such a short time that Gail and I are constantly rushing out to grab a picture when the light is just right in the garden. Not only are they beloved by garden staff and visitors alike, but the pollinators seemingly can’t get enough of the pollen so readily available on each poppy. It was tricky to work around all these buzzing workers, but so fun to watch them enjoy these flowers as much as I do. Poppies truly are a win on all accounts. This year I ordered eight different varieties (sometimes I can’t help myself when it’s freezing outside and I’m dreaming of summer). Here’s a sample of what’s in bloom in the Idea Gardens.

It is so interesting to see the variation in color in these blooms. Some varieties are true to description down to a tee (example, ‘American Legion’ is always a true clear red with a white cross in the middle). Others range from white to dark to pastel all within the same mix. Another absolutely true color variety is a new one on the market. ‘Amazing Grey’ sounded too good to be true. Could there really be a poppy with crinkly lavender/grey color? Isn’t that just photoshop? I’m here to say it’s true and I am loving this poppy so very much from the moment the flower emerges to the gentle fade of color as it opens.

If you wander through the North Garden you will spy the variety ‘Bridal Silk’. It seemed a fitting choice for the garden that is the site for so many weddings each year.

I saved the pink peony poppy for last because it is a breadseed poppy and not a Shirley variety. The pink peony poppy self sows in each of our gardens and we always save some of those seedlings so we have a constant supply of this conversation starter. It boasts huge flowers that are a feast for pollinators and glaucous blue-green foliage that stands out against other foliage. It is definitely an eye-catcher.

pink peony poppy (Papaver somniferum)

The poppy blooms are cool weather lovers, so come and enjoy them while they are here.