Poppy heaven

Poppies In July

Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?

You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns

And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.

A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!

There are fumes I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?

If I could bleed, or sleep!
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!

Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.

But colorless. Colorless.

Sylvia Plath http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/sylvia-plath/poppies-in-july/

I know it is not July yet, but I love this poem and my poppies are now, they will be over by July.
I grow a lot of poppies.  Some like this Papaver Rhoeas have just appeared in the garden of its own accord.  It is very welcome.  It nods its head in a cheerful way and attracts bees.
Other poppies, like this oriental poppy, I have grown from seed.  Oriental poppies are perennials so I know where they will come up every year.  Once the first flush of flowers is over I cut them down to the ground mercilessly.  I learned this many years ago from some gardening programme/magazine, can't remember now.  Where-ever the tip came from it said that these poppies are messy once they have flowered so if you cut them down hard they will soon have new growth and you might get a second flowering.  It is a great tip and works.
For years I tried to get Eschscholzia californica to establish in previous gardens.  In one patch in my current garden suddenly they took and now they self seed and spread a little more each year.  They are small reflections of the sun and glow beautifully.  This year a small annual poppy has put itself within them.  The colours might not be sympathetic, but I like it anyway.  I am not a follower of the colour wheel.

Annual poppies are just a joy.  They spread around and hybridise merrily.  They are so promiscuous, a real tart in the garden, but a tart with a heart of gold as they give so much value (I think I need to stop that thread there, it could get out of hand!)

This poppy is so lush, so delicate, after a day and with breezes its petals will just fly away leaving the pepper pot seed head that has its own beauty.
This is my current favourite.  It appeared this week as if from nowhere.  The colours shine and the red edge to the dark silk petals is sublime.

Growing poppies is not without its downside though.  They do self seed prolifically so I do spend a lot of time editing and weeding.  On the plus side though, they are easily identifiable very early on so I know quickly if I want to remove them or let them continue.

Poppy seeds can lay dormant in the soil for decades, they are wakened by soil disturbance which is why they grow so well in ploughed fields and of course, the battle fields of World War One leading them to become the symbol of remembrance.

and on Twitter my name is Papaver, poppies with their fleeting, delicate beauty have a real place in my heart.


  1. Totally agree! Even the seedheads are lovely.

  2. Me too -- the poppies are lovely!

  3. Beautiful! The big poppies look like they are made out of tissue paper. I used to have a lot of little california poppies but only one came up this year.

  4. its taken me years to get the california poppies going - and they only like that spot, it must be just the right conditions!

  5. Those purple poppies are beautiful - such an unusual colour!

  6. Hi Alison - thanks for popping in your link over at mine today. As the 'wearer' of a poppy avatar and a papaver twittername, there was really only one choice for you :)

  7. Hi Alison – this is another plant that has come and gone in my garden. I’ve enjoyed seeing it again with you. Although I have enjoyed the big dark blooms in the past, I can’t deny that I have a fondness for the simple Californian ones – so pretty :-)

  8. Super blooms - I grow orientals and am trying Meconopsis this year!

  9. Petals really are the perfect example of the Earth's beauty aren't they? Delightful post!


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