Gardening: Popular poppies in bloom

Phyl Boyce

Reporter:

Phyl Boyce

Gardening: Popular poppies in bloom

Poppies from Phyl's garden

FEW hardy perennials have such magnificent flowers as the oriental poppy (Papaver orientale). Clumps of big, bold red oriental poppies are a vision that represents the arrival of summer sunshine. It seems they grow more dazzling and more gorgeous each year.

Perhaps they are grown in greater number of gardens and we see their brilliant colours everywhere or perhaps we have learned the secret of growing these delicate silken flowers.

The oriental poppies bloom in June, growing 2-4 feet in height. Their sturdy stems, topped with fat buds, rise from a lush carpet of evergreen foliage. The buds open to reveal crumpled petals that delicately unfurl into a luxuriously cupped shaped flower. The flowers often measure 9-10 inches across. Some of them have a black blotch in the centre of the petals and all of them have a great number of purplish-black stamens in the heart of the cup.

The Iceland poppies (papaver nudicante) are smaller plants, growing about 12 inches in height. They are also favourites in the garden for their colours of white, lemon, yellow and orange, are beautifully crinkled and have a delicate fragrance. They bloom all through the summer if the dead flowers are removed.

Pink and white poppies are the easiest to mix into the garden setting. Both the oriental and Iceland poppies are splendid plants for the herbaceous border.

Oriental poppies will grow in any open, sunny position in good soil. After they finish flowering the leaves begin to die down, they should be left alone for the roots seem to enjoy a thorough baking from the sun. In September the roots will show signs of growth, at which time plants may be safely transplanted. Oriental poppies should be mulched in the winter. Plants will grow in the same position for a number of years, if the need to be divided, autumn is the best time to do it.

Jobs for the week

Spray for blackspot and potato blight.

All the hard work in the vegetable garden in spring will now be paying off with fresh vegetables available daily. Even with the dry weather, most plants only need to be watered thoroughly once or twice a week. Onions need lots of water to produce a good yield so these will be suffering with the recent dry weather. If you thin your crop now you can still enjoy strong onion flavour condensed into a smaller onion. Try saving wash water from your kitchen sink and instead of washing it down the drain use it to water your vegetables, the trick is to use a tea towel or sieve to retain food remnants as you pour the water into bucket or watering can.

Prune spring flowering shrubs that have finished flowering. Any shoots that carried flowers can be cut back, to shape the shrub and control its size. Some trees that are grafted, such as apples, pear and cockscrew hazel, produce suckers from the base. Remove these suckers down to ground level.