Seven years ago, I visited Glenmore House near Camden for a gardening workshop. Not only did we learn much about seasonal plants but we also enjoyed a tour of the garden. That’s when I fell in love with poppies.
There were huge beds that included poppies towering over me. You can see in this photo how long the stems on the flowers were. Many were in bloom while others had already lost their petals and displayed their shapely seed heads. I was entranced by the single pink blooms, with their darker pink markings in the centres. Never had I seen poppies like them.
I wasn’t in a position to grow poppies at the time but, after we moved to our current home, I decided to give it a go. Imagine my surprise to find that there were already huge poppy plants growing in my new garden. I eagerly checked on them every day, hoping they would be the pink colour I’d seen at Glenmore House.
They weren’t. Instead, they were single flowers with glorious red petals, which I identified with an online plant app as Papaver somniferum. The flower heads were huge. After the petals had dropped and the seed heads dried I allowed the seeds to scatter where they fell. The following year resulted in a bumper crop of stunning blooms.
My research into poppies revealed there were double forms as well. By this stage, I was besotted. I tracked down seeds of a double cream peony poppy, Papaver paeoniflorum, which is flowering in my garden now. These have ruffled blooms about 10cm across and are so stunning that I’ve since purchased seeds in a variety of pink and red shades. I’ll be sowing these in early autumn for spring flowering.
Peony poppy seeds are best spread where they are to grow in the garden and they don’t like being deeply covered, nor do they like having their roots disturbed. For a striking display, mass planting is best. Even better for me, the plants are frost resistant.
Visiting other people’s gardens allows us to see new-to-us plants and different ways of designing a garden. I still have so much to learn about gardening and my day at Glenmore House introduced me to poppies I’d never seen before. I also fell in love with other parts of that property (oh, the kitchen garden!) but they are ideas I’ve stored for another time. In the meantime, I’m planning where I will do mass sowing of poppy seeds next.