Poppy Power ~ The Show Goes On Rain Or Shine

IMG_3543

IMG_3558

To be honest I’m not too fond of this particular shade of oriental poppy – essence of Heinz Tomato Soup. It was already a garden resident when we bought the house, and although I keep digging it up, it seems determined, not only to stay, but to multiply. Anyway, I like its chutzpah, if not its colour. I can always be sure it will pop up somewhere to annoy me. Then I think, oh well. At least the bees love it. And who can gainsay such show-off vim and vigour.

IMG_3540

On Sunday after the storms, I even felt rather sorry for this very rain-drenched one – made me think of an ageing star, past her prime, crying into her gin. Overdone mascara on the run…I should get out more.

Awakening To Poppies

100_9980

Few garden flowers do awakening more flamboyantly than oriental poppies. They are true spirit-lifters. This one is also catching the early morning sun – along with a tiny crab spider. They are also very obliging on the renewal front, each year creating several suckers which are easily divided to make new plants. And if you cut them right back after the first flowering, you will  be blessed with a late summer flush. Bees and hover flies love them too.

Their vegetation is fleshy with a tendency to break, but they are surprisingly hardy. The leaves have been up in my garden for a couple of months now. But I’m guessing it will be a good few weeks before we can enjoy this year’s round of poppy power. For now, the photos will have to suffice.

IMG_3637

Daily Post: Awakening

Oh No! The Poppies’ Frocks Are Blowing Off

Last night as I was snapping the foxgloves outside the garden, a keen wind blew up. Inside the garden the oriental poppies were in complete disarray – a veritable strip-tease was going on. Of course it often happens – just when the poppies are looking their best, we have gale or deluge, and the garden party ends up a complete wash-out: everyone with draggled skirts, hair-dos shot and mascara smudged.

IMG_4946

IMG_4936

IMG_4943

 

But the good news is – when I got up this morning…

 

P1080167

P1080165

…there were new girls on the block, including one in lipstick pink. How could I have forgotten  that she would be coming along? Although how she got herself in with the salmon pink crowd I do not know.

While I’m here, I’ll pass on an oriental poppy gardening tip for those of you that grow them, and may not know: if, when the poppies have finally finished flowering, you cut the plants right down to the ground, you will be treated to a late summer flush.

Cee’s Flower Of The Day  Please visit Cee to see her lovely flower shots, and leave links to your own.

Thursdays Special ~ Les Quatre Saisons En Rouge et Noir

P1000335

P1030851

100_9963

100_8119

From top to bottom: winter witch hazel, spring tulips, summer oriental poppy, autumn crab apples.

*

The flowers on our little witch hazel tree are already brown and shrivelled. It was flowering back in January, and on bleak grey days the ragged clusters of russet petals made it look much like a tree invented by aliens. A welcome sight nonetheless. Otherwise the garden is presently dank and soggy – a scatter of snowdrops and one or two hellebore flowers opening.

But there are other signs of spring – tulips and daffodils shooting up several inches tall, and the oriental poppies making their first leaves. Also the  Evereste crab apple tree which we moved last year, and feared we had killed in the process, is covered in tight little buds; so fingers crossed.

Indoors, I’m fretting to start sowing – packets of seeds, old and new, in piles on the window sills, seed potatoes set out in trays in the conservatory. But it’s all too early to do much outside – the Shropshire soil still too cold and wet for sowing. I’m told by a fellow allotmenteer that the acid test for knowing if the soil is warm enough for growing is to sit on it with your pants down. Yep. Bare bottom pressed to the earth. If you can bear the baring, then it’s OK to plant. But this is not a procedure I could recommend for communal gardens, not unless one’s fellow gardeners are suitably forewarned.

And so, keeping my pants well pulled up, I’m stemming my impatience by starting off globe artichokes, coriander and basil in the kitchen, and nurturing my sweet pea seedlings. They don’t mind the cold conservatory, and probably could go outside now. I shall also sow some leeks in pots, and maybe do the same with beetroot.  And if I were truly organised I could also sort out my seed packets into month order so as not to miss the boat as I did with several things last year.

But it’s all so exciting – another seasons’ round in the offing. More things to learn; more things learned to put into practice. It is, after all, the gardener’s way – to travel hopefully.

 

Paula’s Thursday’s Special ~ le rouge et le noir

November Poppy’s Last Hurrah…

IMG_3661

…at least till next year.

IMG_3670

I posted the first photo of this oriental poppy last Thursday during a spell of unexpected sunshine, but I’m afraid the weekend’s rainstorms cut her off at the roots. Ah well. She was lovely while she lasted – so bravely out of time and season.

But writing this has just reminded me of what the lovely woman who sold her to me said.

If you cut your oriental poppies down to the ground after they have finished flowering in early summer, you will have a second late blooming.

Somehow I don’t think she meant they would flower in November. But then who knows what to expect these days, the way the seasons are shifting.

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day Please go visit Cee for more floral pleasures.

And It Was A Right Bees’ Breakfast This Morning Over My Garden Fence…

 

IMG_2265

It was every bee for itself over in the poppy patch behind the garden sheds this morning: the apian equivalent of a supermarket trolley dash. Honey bees, little brown bumbles, dinky stripy bumbles, blooming big scary bumbles and white-tailed bumbles diving in for the poppy nectar while the air all round filled with happy bee hum.  Some were feeding with such speed and voracity that their baggage compartments were definitely approaching the overloaded mark. Now and then they would take a feeding break on the poppy’s crown while they dusted themselves down and redistributed the pollen cargo.

IMG_2252

The gathering technique is also fascinating. They dive into the base of the flower and speed round beneath the stamens, feeding on the nectar while every part of them hoovers up pollen from the anthers. Even with the biggest bumbles, once they get into their stride, all you can see are the stamens ruffling round like curtain pelmet tassels in a stiff breeze. Whoosh, and it’s on to the next feeding station.

IMG_2282

IMG_2310

I probably don’t need to say it again to those who follow this blog, but then no chance should be wasted. The wellbeing of our planet, and of humanity, and of the continued production of much of our food depends on protecting and nurturing bee populations any way we can. Masses are being killed off by pesticides and habitat loss. So loud applause for the opium poppies that came of their own accord to our boundary fence, and are doing their bit for bee world. Rah! Rah! Hurrah, poppies!

IMG_2360

IMG_2361

IMG_1828

 

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

Over My Garden Fence This Morning

IMG_1827

We didn’t invite them, but this crowd of opium poppies showed up anyway, pushing in behind the garden fence along with several other blooming gate-crashers. There’s a whole bunch more behind the garden shed. Papaver somniferum – the sleep bearing poppy, Asian in origin but now naturalised in Britain on waste ground and in field margins. And in case you are wondering, in our cool climate it does not produce the latex from which opium is derived. Better to get high by looking at them. And what a cheering sight it is on a Monday morning. So poppies, we’re glad you came. Please feel free to make yourselves at home here.

IMG_1803

IMG_1811

For more 4th July blooming visit Cee at Flower of the Day.

Storm Poppies

100_6118

Last Saturday I somehow lost track of five whole hours. There is so much to do up at the allotment – weeding, picking peas, strawberries and raspberries, digging up the new potatoes, tying up the tomatoes in the polytunnel, watering, feeding, turning the compost heap, sowing more peas, constructing pigeon defence systems, wandering about neighbours’ plots, taking a few snaps.

But one of the nice things about having the polytunnel is that when a storm strikes, I can potter around in there until the downpour  passes.  As you can see from the sky, we were in for a deluge, and I caught these poppies just as it was arriving. There was something malignant, I thought, about their stance. Something a little predatory about those seed capsules. Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time in the garden.

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell