Growing Poppies

I had despaired in the spring at the poppies I had grown in seed trays. They were tall and leggy and I thought entirely doomed to wither and die. People said poppies shouldn’t be transplanted, but in the cold spring I was eager to start growing something! anything! in anticipation. Poppies made the list.

I purchased the seeds from Kings Seeds and the mix is called Poppy Shirley Summer Mix.  The name comes from the English village of Shirley, where the Reverend William Wilks created the poppy from the 1880s onwards.

As spring progressed and all the other seedlings graduated their way out the door and into the garden, it was the trays of dismal looking poppies I had left over. So there really was nothing to lose by planting out my floppy crop on a leftover patch of recently cultivated garden.Up until a year ago, it had been a metre high thick with Agapanthus. I’d done little to remediate the soil, and so the poppies were planted into a fairly solid clay.

To my surprise, they completely took off and I had the most magical weeks of glorious poppies. Each day there were new colours and forms to admire. Then too came the bees. The noise in the early morning sunshine was almost deafening. The loved feasting (and snoozing) among the petals.

As a little girl, my grandmother allowed me to singe the ends of the poppies she’d cut over a candle. This made them last longer in a vase. I tried the same again, but they rarely lasted longer than a day. Their place is in the garden.

I will definitely be planting these again next spring, and despite advice to the contrary, I’ll be growing them in seedling potters. How easy do you find it to grow poppies?

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