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Poppies and Garden Connections…

You Can Grow That!

Last year about this time I visited Chris Hestwood’s beautiful garden on Nantucket. I admired her beautiful poppies (Papaver somniferous) and a few weeks later she brought me some seeds. I planted them just as they are spread in her garden – scattered over the surface of the soil. All spring I watched for them to appear and at first was afraid I had a poppy failure on my hands…I didn’t see any plants until well into May. Suddenly, however, there they were – a few here and a few there.

Some of the flowers are singles but most are fluffy doubles. Beautiful. I think that from now on they’ll grace these gardens, moving around and finding places among the perennials. These self-seeders embody many of the things we find in our gardens: surprise, color, the generosity of other gardeners and the willingness to let nature have a say in garden design. And they are heartbreakingly lovely. Thanks, poppies, thanks, Chris and thanks, gardens.

This is Chris Hestwood's beautiful garden and some of my poppies' relatives.

One of my favorites in my garden.

10 comments to Poppies and Garden Connections…

  • They look beautiful!!!, I have never seen poppies with these ragged leaves. There are so many leaves they almost look like Paeonia. Very Lovely!

  • mary kahler

    Oh, how I love poppies. My seem to grow best in the bluestone gravel paths of my herb garden. Lovely Nantucket garden!

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  • Gardening is so lush in the East. I just came back from a trip to MA where I did a landscape installation. Next time I hope I will stay long enough to visit you on the Cape. I am a native New Englander and although I’m not ready to trade in my year-round SoCal gardening here, I do miss your lush greens and big flowers like the oriental poppies.

  • Jane – And when I visit my son in the LA area, I lust after all those succulents that you folks can grow so well. I do admit, however, that when we lived in the San Diego area I used to long for cloudy, rainy days. I’d wake up in the morning, look out the window, and think “Damn! Another sunny day.” 🙂

  • I love your Papaver somniferous! For some reason I have better luck with the Shirle poppies (Papaver rhoeas). Do you think it’s possible for Papaver somniferous to come back from its root in a mild winter like we had? I scattered seed last year as you did and only one came up. I let the seed pod ripen and scatter its own seed. This year one came up – in the same spot! I’ve let Papaver rhoeas reseed but it seems to come back as the red single form so I try to buy fresh seed each year. Thanks for the post!

  • Jean – as far as I know, P. somniferous is an annual but as we gardeners all learn, we should never say never! My guess is that in the future you’ll have more of these poppies. Keep scattering seed – these seeds need light to germinate so be sure that they aren’t being covered by mulch or dirt from pulling weeds. I love P. rhoeas too – in fact, I haven’t yet met a poppy I don’t like!

  • Poppies inspire conversation, don’t they? I love them. Two years ago I started with Shirley poppies, like Jean. The second year, I added French Flounced poppies (paoniflorum and laciniatum)from Renee’s Garden Seeds. The Shirley’s reseeded in all the colors last year, but this year, I do notice that we have more reds than pinks and whites. The French flounced poppies are very interesting: some look like peonies, some look like carnations, some even look like orientals. Like you, C.L., I’ll take them all!

  • I’ve tried poppies a few times, without much success. I think it’s time to give them another try! I love how well they seem to do in the strangest of places. They grew all around the railroad tracks at the rail yard in Milano. If they can grow there, they can make it my yard!

  • Elsa,
    Just be sure to scatter the seeds on top of the soil where they won’t get covered by mulch etc. Light is necessary for germination. I hope they take root this time!