Friday 24th June 2022

Poppies. Symbols of everything from death and remembrance to peace and consolation. They are popping open all over the garden, bringing joy, colour and style with them.

Papaver rhoeas

Family: Papaveraceae Genus: Papaver Species: rhoeas

The Field Poppy

Poppies are a genus which form part of the family known as Papaveraceae. There are many other genera within the family, and this is where the Latin binomial naming system for plants is so useful to the gardener. It enables an individual plant in the larger family to be uniquely identified. Below is a chart showing 4 different plant families and an example of one genus within each. Each genus has a species name and may then also have a cultivar/variety name .

The Papaveraceae family alone contains around 42 genera. Most plants in the family are herbaceous, but a few are shrubs and small trees. Although members of the family share characteristics, each genus can be very different. The Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), for example, is quite different from Papaver somniferum (the Opium Poppy), which, in turn, is distinct from Romneya coulteri (the Tree Poppy).

Plant ident.

Bridge showed us a number of plants from the Papaveraceae family which might all be commonly described as ‘Poppies’, yet they don’t all share the same genus.

Papaver nudicaule

Family: Papaveraceae Genus: Papaver Species: nudicaule

The Iceland Poppy is the fashionista of the family. A biennial or short-lived perennial, its beautiful, silky, chiffon-like flowers grace grey-green foliage. A fabulous choice for the cutting garden as it looks fantastic in the ground and lasts well in a vase. Sarah Raven rates the cultivar ‘Champagne Bubbles’ very highly, ‘the best possible Poppy you can grow’; praise indeed. Grows best in a fertile soil in full sun. Picking encourages prolonged flowering, but leave some seed heads for self-seeding. Ht 45 cms

Eschscholzia californica

Family: Papaveraceae Genus: Eschscholzia Species: californica

These delicate flowers bring a vivid splash of colour to the summer garden. The feathery foliage is blue-green, and cultivars come in shades of orange, pink, red, coral, ivory and white. Grown as hardy annuals in the U.K., they are easy to grow from seed – especially in hot, dry areas where the soil is poor. Rich in pollen, they attract bees. Ht. 30cms

Papaver orientale ‘Mrs Perry’

Family:Papaveraceae Genus: Papaver Species: orientale Cultivar: ‘Mrs Perry’

This deciduous perennial is a glamorous perennial with large bowl-shaped, salmon-pink flowers. Dark purple blotches mark the base of each petal. Copes with most well-drained soil and likes full sun. Propagate by division in spring or by taking root cuttings in late autumn. Ht 0.5 – 1.0 m

Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’

Family: Papaveraceae Genus: Papaver Species: ‘commutatum’ Cultivar: ‘Ladybird’

This gorgeous annual Poppy has black splodges, reminiscent of a ladybird. Good for filling gaps in sunny borders, attractive to bees and good as a cut flower. Easy to grow and a good self-seeder. Ht. 50 cms

Romneya coulteri

Family: Papaveracea Genus: Romneya Species: coulteri

The Californian Tree Poppy is a woody-based perennial with glaucous foliage and cup-shaped, white flowers. The golden yellow stamens add to the striking appearance of the plant, which blooms over a long period in the summer. Grow in a sunny location, and protect from cold winds. Propagate from basal or root cuttings. Ht 2.5 m

Meconopsis betonicifolia

Family: Papaveraceae Genus: Meconopsis Species: betonicifolia

The Himalayan Blue Poppy. If you live on chalky, alkaline soil, don’t try this at home! This short-lived perennial really wants a more acidic soil, thriving best in the cooler, wetter conditions of Scotland and northern England. It’s happiest in a bed of moist, fertile, organic matter in a sheltered and partially shaded location. A tricky, difficult customer, but one which has a rare and beautiful colour. Ht 1.2 m

Jobs for the week

Pricking out

It’s time to prick out Wallflowers, and sow biennials. Let’s do it!

Separate out the little lovelies, being careful not to damage the rootlets…

Nicely done

And add the all-important label (this one is there already).

Plant Dahlias

Plant up six pots with different varieties. Put crocks at the botoom of each pot to help with drainage, then mix G/House compost with a little organic, pelleted, chicken manure. Stake the plants and finish with a layer of horticultural grit to discourage those far from sluggish slugs. Label and water.

Sounds easy enough

If only we hadn’t watered the flipping thing before deciding to move it

Then weave a little frame to support the darling Dahlia as it grows

No trouble at all

Check the cut flower bed

Weed. Remove those plants which are beyond help. Plant some Dahlias, Larkspur and Ammi. Add a layer of grit (see reference to slugs, above) and a few organic slug pellets.

Pander to the Pelargoniums

In the greenhouse in the top garden, deadhead and feed the precious Pellies. Use diluted worm wee (technical term) or seaweed feed. Talk to them, show them kindness and treat them tenderly. They seem to respond.

But choose your words carefully

Take cuttings

So many plants to choose from! Plectranthus are a good bet – they take very easily and grow on quickly. Using a sharp knife or snips, cut down to a leaf joint on a non-flowering shoot; remove the bottom leaves of the cutting; make a small hole in the corner of a plant pot with a little dibber; push the cutting gently into the hole; firm carefully; water and label.

Also, take cuttings of Chrysanthemums to grow on in the greenhouse

Pot up Grasses

In the greenhouse. A less popular option in the summer months as it can turn into an oven in there

But these are cool customers

Check round the garden

Weed. Feed. Deadhead

Devoted dedication to duty

These are the Salad Days of summer

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