Poppy is a symbol of fertility, remembrance, and sacrifice. It also symbolises peace, sleep, hope and sacrifice. Poppy is also the nickname of many a grandfather…
There are many different types of poppies, and all have those delicate petals like tissue paper that are so whimsical and delightful. They are all carefree and slightly wild at heart.
Each autumn is the right time of the year to think about poppy planting in Australia, and here are the best ones for our climate.
Flanders Poppy(Papaver rhoeas)The fields of France and Belgian were filled with poppies during the First World War. It’s thought that they were spread by the horses and soldiers churning up the soil, and, whilst you see these around today in among fields of wheat, barley and corn, those years saw displays like no other as large areas turned red with their blooms.After the war ended artificial poppies were made to raise money for disabled veterans by their mates. This tradition of wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day has continued to this day.
Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule) is sometimes called the Arctic poppy, which is why in Australia we grow it over winter – it simply doesn’t like the heat at all. It does make a fabulous cut flower, and looks amazing planted en masse with its long hairy stems waving in the breeze, and those coral, pink, salmon, saffron and white flowers held aloft. If you’re after a field (or simply a pot) of these iconic flowers, plant them from seed or seedling not and you’ll be rejoicing next spring.
Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) belong to a different group, but have the same carefree attitude poppies are famous for. These are used to growing along the sides of roads, footpaths and self-seeding among other flowers in the garden. There buttery yellow and golden sunshine-coloured flowers bring a smile to any tired garden – or gardener! Sow them as seeds direct into the soil and they will look after the rest.
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the poppy best known for being made into heroin and other pharmaceutical drugs like codeine and morphine. Whilst Tasmania does have an industry based around this, the gardening version does not have the same chemical composition – as it best known for its flouncy double and semi double blooms that are often seen in old cottage gardens. Chefs are, of course, very familiar with this plant, but know it instead for the black seeds used in baked good and orange poppyseed cake!
There are many other types of poppy too. Some are notoriously tricky (like the Tibetan Blue Poppy) and others are rare but easily grown, like the plume poppy (Maclaya cordata) that we have growing in our display gardens at Macquarie Park. Ask our green team for help on sowing and planting information, and they may even be able to direct you to some hidden treasures.
By: Meredith Kirton