A Tale of Two Poppies

'Lauren's Grape'
I love poppies. From the hardy Orientals to the delicate Icelands, there's something magical about the way they appear on bright sunny mornings. Maybe it's the knowing they'll last for such a short time that makes them even more beautiful.

From a distance, their demeanor makes them cheery and I can't help but gravitate toward them. But for me the true prize comes with close inspection and focus.

I sowed seed of Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' in late March and didn't notice much until early June. But the bluish leaves of the opium poppy are unmistakable. They'd look better in a big clump, but unfortunately I didn't plant enough for that. I'll reorder more seed next year from Select Seeds.

California poppy 'Wrinkled Rose' in bud

Perhaps one reason poppies hold such a special place in my heart is because I have such limited success with them. Very early this year, Park Seed offered packets of Eschscholzia californicus 'Wrinkled Rose' for $1 apiece. I purchased four packets of 100 seeds each, planted three of them, and ended up with one small patch of plants that remained a mystery until one of them bloomed.

Each flower takes its sweet time opening, which heightens their charm. But by the time the first flower unfurled, the weight of its extra petals and the lack of full sun pushed it onto the ground.

I'm not throwing in the towel on this little California cultivar. It is the first variety that has actually come up from several tries at getting seed to germinate in my garden. My next test will be to cut it and see if it lasts a day or so in a vase.

California poppy 'Wrinkled Rose' has a pretty color but perhaps too many petals to stand up straight.


  1. I hope you don't cut too many of that beautiful California poppy. They self-sow prolifically, if you leave the flowers to form long, explosive seedpods.

  2. Thanks Alison. I will certainly do that, as I've had more luck having them reseed on their own over my starting them from a fresh pack of seeds.

  3. I too love poppies and so do the bees in my garden - they go frantically crawling all over them almost in a feeding frenzy. Shame that they don't hold their petals longer but worth it if even for a short time.