Tuesday, January 4, 2011
As a teenager who was just discovering a love of gardening, I recall planting several packets of annual poppies in my grandmother's backyard. Her veggie patch was no longer used, so I sprinkled a mixture of poppies - red, mauve, pink, white, double, single flowering and more - in that abandoned plot. By early summer, it was ablaze in colour and we were all transfixed by the silky petals and quirky pods of the poppies.
Since then, I've always made room for poppies in my own gardens. From the huge fiery blossoms of the Oriental poppies to the sky-blue petals of Himalayan poppies, I've tried them all - with varying degrees of success (blue poppies, how they mock me!). The above photo of blue poppies is from my next-door neighbour's garden.. she has the perfect conditions - dabbled shade, peaty soil, moisture.. sigh..
Yet, the perennial flowers of Oriental poppies or the fussiness of blue poppies aren't quite right for a kitchen garden. Instead, within the confines of our edible paradise, I concentrate on annual and breadbox poppies. Of course, they have the side benefits of attracting beneficial and pollinating insects to my veggies, but it's the flowers that I crave.. smooth petals, feathered edges, doubled blooms, splotches.. all in a rainbow of colours and sizes. I even love the wayward hairy stems that twist and turn in every direction..
In those first few springs, I sprinkled the seed early - in late March - on the bare earth. Now, those poppies come back each year. After the flower show is over, I leave the pods to mature and keep spreading their seed. I do give them a hand though, by picking some of the dried, brittle pods and shaking the seed in other areas of the garden. I also save some of our breadbox poppy seed for muffins and loaves. Plus, there is always enough to share with other poppy lovers.. here are a few more from this past summer..