Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plant of the week: Iceland poppies Papaver nudicaule

Ah the joys of spring err.. I mean winter. Well, here in So Cal it's certainly feeling like spring to me.  In the past I had a hard time with the idea of growing plants in my garden that were also being grown in strip malls and gas stations.  But I always felt that the elegance of the Iceland poppy was at odds with such banal places. You can see why they are planted; easy, beautiful and perform at a time of year when many annuals do not.  I wonder when they first became popular as bedding plants in Southern California.

So, I have decided that the thing that has become really common is MIXED Iceland poppies, you know 'Champagne Bubbles' etc.   And since I was able to identify the commonness, I was therefore able to plant them in my garden, as single strain color. It seems to me also that a single color was a bit more natural,  but who knows maybe 'Champagne Bubbles' is the poppy's natural state. I asked a local grower to grow me a few flats of six packs so I could have a winter splash of color. And color I selected was supposed to be red, but it ended up orange.  Orange of course is totally at home in the front garden. So all's well that ends well.

I quickly took a look at the origin of Iceland poppies and interestingly enough they are not endemic to Iceland as their name might suggest, but are boreal. So somewhere in Alaska and Canada we should be able to find some too.

They look lovely and have been a pleasure in my garden for weeks and weeks, and of course the anticipation was great too.  I dutifully deadhead and groom them to get most out of their ephemeral show. Look at the little Buddha soaking up the afternoon light and watching over the poppies.

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