Friday, September 18, 2009

Popping along

Mornings are so lovely here at the moment. For one thing the spring sun is rising ever-earlier and the mornings are becoming warmer, too. For another thing the garden has something new to show me every day in the rapid growth spurt of this, the fastest-growing season. And when it comes to something new, my poppy patch never lets me down. It pops out a different mix of colours every day.

Last year's patch lasted until early October, but this year's poppy festival looks like rolling along for at least another month longer. Having started blooming in June, they're wonderful value not only out in our garden, but also inside the house, where Pam's poppy-filled vases greet visitors in the front hallway and elsewhere in the house.

Poppies have to be the nicest mutants on the block, tossing up dazzlers like this duo-toned beauty that's likely to be the only one of its kind through the whole season. As well as all the classic colours of red, white, yellow, pastel pink, apricot and orange, Iceland poppies send out an incredibly varied array of colour combos from the same plant.

This is about as dense as the flowering ever gets. Plenty for vases indoors but never a thick sea of colour. If anything, this year's flowering has been better than last year's, but there's a reason for that. This year I've used a 'bloom booster' fertiliser, which is relatively high in phosphorus, the bloom-promoting element, in its N:P:K mix. Of course this stuff isn't remotely organic, but as I don't intend to eat the poppies I'm not too fussed about crossing over to the dark side for a season.

As one bloom fades there are many more ready to have their day in the sun.

My role is simple. Apart from the liquid feeds, I spend two minutes every morning dead-heading the finished flowers. This is probably more important that the fertilising, actually. All flowering annuals have one mission in life: to set seed for the next generation. And so, as soon as a flower finishes it sets off on its next role in life – to set seed. And when I snap off the faded bloom with my fingers (they're crisp and tender, too – fingers do the job easily, you don't need secateurs) the poppy says "right, I'll show you, you rotten seed thwarter, I'll send up another flower. Take that!" Ouch!

And so the patch continues, bloom after pretty bloom. The only things you cannot predict is what colour will pop out next, or when the whole lovely show will ever end.


Dot said...

Jamie your poppies are beautiful! And I thought the red ones were sweet... what a lovely surprise not knowing what colours are going to pop up next.

Onesimus said...

My iceland poppies still have not flowered. They've had very dense leaves but no sign of anything else.

I tried to get a close up look at the leaves of your plants and I'm not convinced that they are the same as mine.

I HAVE considered that I'm mistaken about the identity of my plants, but I have three separate patches with very healthy foliage, all where I sowed seeds from the same packet several months ago.


Onesimus said...

In additon to my comment above, I am wondering about the possibility of my seed being wrongly packaged.

Jamie said...


(Presuming that you click on the photos to make them bigger), in the fourth photo down from the top of my blog (just showing the unopened poppy heads and lots of foliage) there are two types of poppy foliage visible.

In the very foreground and in most spots is the Iceland poppy foliage, with the broader leaves.

Also present (say, left side, one-third the way up from the bottom) is some self-seeded wild poppy foliage. My patch produced a bit of this last year, too. If you look closely you can see a reddish tinge to the stems.These will eventually produce very pretty, small wild poppies in various colours, often deep reds and deep pinks.

So, I'm wondering if your poppies are either:
a) a wild variety that flowers in spring, not winter
b) Flanders poppies, which are red and flower in spring as well. Flanders poppies are taller plants than low-growing Icelands, though.

If I were you I'd stick with them and hang on for the ride. I'm sure you'll get some flowers.

The only other thing I can think of is to stop fertilising them, if that's what you have been doing. Lay off the fertiliser altogether and they might then start flowering for you.

Good luck!

Urban Green said...

sea of poppies..they are beautiful..

see you around, following your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie~~ For some reason Blotanical is not recognizing your blog as a Fave. I think of you when I see the buds on my Grevillea.

Happy spring! Your poppies are lovely. I've also debated the the Bloom Booster quandary. Like you said, if you're not planning to eat the plant you're pouring it on, it's probably no big deal. I'll often use it on my container ornamentals.

Still very summer-like weather here.