Blue Poppy time

Come to think of it, my whole garden is really built around the blue poppy, meconopsis ‘Slieve Donard’. One of the first plants my parents acquired back in 1962, the blue poppies  have continued to lighten the early days of June ever since – and slowly, consciously or unconsciously, other plants have been chosen to coincide with their flowering.They have not been good this year. That is to say – not as good as usual. The devastating May frosts browned some of the earliest buds; they are normally immune. Also, one of my two beds, deep in the shade by my Pictish folly, has, I suspect, been invaded by tree roots which have choked the drains and leached nutrition from the soil. I’ll have to move the poppies and dig out the roots. So there’s a big, muddy task ahead for Autumn….  The unfolding bud of the blue poppy is the closest thing in nature to crushed silk. As the flower opens, the colour lightens,with  the yellow stamens providing a star of contrast in the centrem. ‘Slieve Donard’ is one of the many cultivars from the ‘Infertile Blue group’ (see the link in the sidebar for others).  There are two fertile species, m.baileyi and m.lingholm, which you can often find for sale, but I don’t like them so much – the yellow centre is too prominent.

Blue poppies like some shade, and they like damp soil with lots of humous. Not every soil type suits them (luckily they seem to like yellow clay). They suffer in excessive heat, and wind doesn’t do the flowers any good either. Dividing the clumps (early spring or autumn) is easy – although sometimes they seem to revert to the monocarpic tendencies of many of their tribe and refuse to reappear the next year.

Of course, in my folly, I’ve also attempted some of the monocarpic species – the spiny m.horridula, and the ultra-desirable scarlet m.punicea – but it’s like tearing up ten pound notes, and I’ve resolved just to stick to what I know.

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17 thoughts on “Blue Poppy time

  1. Hi,

    Beautiful blooms and everyone else seems to have them but me! I’m yet to have any here and perhaps it’s due to them being too dry… I will consider moving them to a shadier site.

  2. Beautiful blue, no other plant comes near it! As well as your yellow clay, they also enjoy my red clay, mine are all finished now, will just have to wait till next May, but they’re worth waiting for!

    • It’s interesting that you manage so well with them – I have a cousin who lives on the East Lothian red sandstone and they won’t grow for him. Do you feed yours at all? Mine get some leafmould, but not much else.

        • If they are happy, and not going back, then I would just continue they way you are. I do the same, but I’ve occasionally given a foliar feed in years when they were a bit spindly, and that seemed to help a bit. I don’t do it regularly though.

  3. Monocarpic – never had any luck with them, even when living on the west coast in mec heaven.

    Lovely display me dear – I quite miss them, then again, I miss most flowers even if they don’t hamper my view.

    Didn’t envy you the pond clearing. Leaky waders, not fun.

  4. There they are, the blue poppies. I’ve never seen a bloom first hand, and I’ve killed purchased plants at least twice in past years. I like the fully opened blooms in your images, even though the blue goes lighter, just exquisite. And they are fifty years old this year, perhaps this very day– happy birthday poppies!

    • Hi Linnie, given your genius with seeds & cuttings, I really think you should try that route. I’ll swap you some seed for a couple of hummingbirds (still no hedgehog).

  5. Well I wasn’t going to mention it but I have also already failed with growing them from seed. (Hints on how to accomplish that would be greatly appreciated.)

  6. I’ve never seen a blue poppy for real either… I even started doubting of their real existence… Yes because they look too good to be true, and this is the very reason why I never tried growing them. Let me tell you that that stone wall looks amazing on its own, you even put a stream of blue poppies at its feet… What can you wish more?
    What happens when the poppies fade? Are you growing other things with them? Except for tree roots? I’d see some tall fern here and there maybe…

    • Hello Alberto – Alas, I fear the blue poppy has yet to colonize Italy. You will need to come to Scotland to see them at thier best. Once the flowers are over, I cut the stalks – but the clumps keep growing until August, and there’s not much room for anything else in the bed.

  7. Pingback: The poppies I kept « Women Who Run With Delphiniums

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