These are Frank's legendary Poppies, and those who are familiar with our garden already know these beauties well. And since we always refer to them as Frank's poppies, you know there is a story behind them ... you see, Frank is an elderly master gardener friend in our neighborhood who we've had the privilege and pleasure of knowing over the past seven years or so. He's getting up there now (he's 85 as of this spring), and though his passion for gardening has necessarily abated a bit due to age, he still has the most impressive and magnificent garden in the area by far!
His garden is renowned in the neighborhood, and often makes it on the gardening tours in the summer ... no wonder why, with his myriad species of blooming plants ... from the hundreds of tulips and other bulbs in the spring, to the numerous lilies, peonies, hibiscus, wisteria and other flowers in his garden, his garden is a true exemplar of what one can achieve over the years. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we have felt privileged to know him and he has served as one of the most powerful inspirations we've had to make our humble Urban Oasis what it is today ... and what we hope it will become in the future. In fact, Frank has really reinforced our central tenet of gardening philosophy: gardening is sharing. And share he does!
We got the original seeds for these poppies probably about five or six years ago. One day when we stopped by to pay him a visit, he mentioned that we didn't have any poppies in the garden, and that we should get some started. Of course we agreed, and as we were sitting there in his kitchen with him, he excused himself briefly, went down into his basement and returned with a two pound Quaker Oats container just full of poppy seeds that he had collected. He found an envelope and filled it with seeds, telling us to take them and make them grow for us ... that they were easy, beautiful peony type pink flowers that we'd be sure to enjoy. So we took them home and planted a bunch of them in various places in the newly started garden.
Here we are some six years later, and these wonderful late spring bloomers are still with us ... yes they have acheived weed status, and we couldn't be happier. We can always count on a veritable field of them to appear every spring, as well as renegade clumps that pop up in other places ... they have decisively staked out their territory and even if we were to ever want to get rid of them, we probably couldn't ... they will always appear somewhere in the garden. Which is as it should be for such delightful annual poppies. Though we're not sure about the particular variety, we do know that they are Papaver somniferum, a species that not only carries its obvious notoriety, but also demonstrates an amazing array of varieties of flower shapes and colours. Given its shape and colour, this variety is most likely one of the paeoniflorum subgroup, due to its resemblance to peonies. Like most annual poppies, they are notorious self-seeders, so if you're only toying with the idea of having them, you might want to reconsider, because no matter how much you may try to keep them from dropping seeds, it's ultimately a lost cause, though we certainly consider them a net gain! And for every person who comments on them and wonders if they are hard to grow, we usually send them home with a plentiful supply of seeds to try in their garden. We've certainly shared large quantities of seeds over the ensuing years, and we're always happy to see them blooming in someone else's garden ... and who knows how many others Frank has shared his with over the years ... they're a beautiful testimony to the generosity of a supremely masterful gardener that we hope will grace our neighborhood for many years to come.
Notes on the photos: taken June 13, 2007. These are the first two to open so far this year, and there will be many more to come soon, so I'll try to get a wider shot of the mass blooming when it occurs.
A brief housekeeping note: I just realized yesterday that Urban Oasis reached its one year mark, on June 11. I hope that those who've followed this humble blog over the last year have found pleasure in the beauty we try to capture in our garden, and have learned a thing or two as well. I had to laugh when I looked back at the very first post I made here, because so much has changed since I took those tentative first steps!
UPDATE: 6/14/07 11:50 p.m.
Fernymoss had the day off today and got a whole lot of poppy seeds planted out in the front boulder bed .... we finally got in the new ones: Danish Flag, Heirloom, and Peony White Cloud, as well as the last of "Thai Silk Fire Bush" California poppies we had left. So, give them a month or so and the front should just be bursting with poppies! Olivia and I have a bit of a competition going with the Danish Flag ones, since we're both planting them, so we'll see who can capture the best of the bits, hehe. (Though I don't really see it as much of a competition and am not betting on myself! LOL)