There are so many varieties of the poppy flower, and they are all gorgeous. This brightly flowering plant has huge blooms in red, pink, yellow, purple and shades in between. Most readily available in local nurseries seems to be the Oriental poppy and the California poppy.
The poppy of wartime symbolism is the red-flowering corn poppy. The Europeans consider it a common weed with fields full of them as you drive down the highways. Wikipedia reminds us of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” by the Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae. Poppies have symbolized peace and sleep and even death at various times in history.
Most poppies are grown simply as ornamental plants, although some give us the poppy seed and poppy seed oil used in the kitchen. In ancient Egypt, the doctors would suggest eating the seeds of certain poppies to relieve pain. Poppies have a reputation of being possibly illegal to grow because of the opium connection in novels and old black and white movies. But according to the Aggie Horticulture Web site, Major John Kennedy of the College Station police department says that only one species of poppy illegal to grow is the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.
Poppies are fun to use when you want to bring bright color into your garden in the early summer. They can be found as annuals, perennials and biennials to fill your needs. The state flower of California, the California poppy, is a favorite with gardeners everywhere because of its huge, cup-shaped blooms. Its flowers look delicate like paper, but they are hardy. Their blooms last from June until October if you treat them right. The Oriental poppy variety only blooms for a few weeks, but you will get a true show of immense flowers in hot colors like pink and brick red.
Many varieties drop their seeds, so count on them coming back the next year. A “must have” for the poppy is very good drainage. You could consider using poppies as a border anywhere you want to add lots of color. The poppy is easy to care for, durable and dependable, and such a handsome addition to your yard.
To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.