As the poppies in my garden and on road verges are coming into flower I thought I’d research poppies today. Within my garden I have a few varieties planted this year: the common poppy, oriental poppy and Californium poppy. They look spectacular in bloom, but short lived as I think next doors cats are knocking the petals off.
Both the common and oriental poppy have the RHS perfect for pollinators seal of approval. Easy to grow in sunny spots in the garden. The seeds were scattered and raked. Others started in wildflower mixes in pots that have been spread to the border. The common poppy likes dry and well draining soil, whereas the orientalist opposed has varieties that can stand clay soil. Scatter in October for flowers the following Spring.
The RHS even recommends them as a flower to grow with children as they are simple enough to grow and enjoy. A good teaching opportunity for seasonal change and teaching long term cycles of flowers rather than the instant gratification of just growing cress.
The poppy has various symbolism. Within the wizard of Oz it puts people to sleep, with the opium gained from poppies well known for sleep effects. It has been a symbol of death and rebirth, but it is mainly known for remberance. As the common weed that grew up in the aftermath of WWI on the battlefields it became the symbol for remberance. The red being the more common worn to remember the soldiers, while the white poppy is worn to remember all who have suffered from war.
The symbolism most popularly represented in John McCraes poem, “In Flanders fields”.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Alice and Amy at the weeping willows memorial when it visited Hull earlier in the year.
While they won’t last long, between cats and birds in my garden, I intend to enjoy the poppies while I can.