Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Frank's Poppies

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)


olivia said...

Wow! It's been a year already ... time goes so fast. Happy one year blogiversary! ... :D

The story of Frank's poppies is wonderful IVG. And those poppies are such happy looking flowers ... the perfect flower for sharing ... :)

Had a l-o-n-g day at work trying to meet a deadline for tomorrow end of day, and tomorrow's going to be crazy too ... hope you're not getting overworked on your first week back.

dada said...

frank's kewl, frankly....and thanks for the tale behind the pic's

spreading the joy...

in honour of your blogiversary...late tho it may be...

salad style...



Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Olivia and Dada!
O, yep I finally got around to writing that story up... and it gave us ideas to go see Frank soon and take the cam to see if he'd mind us taking some pics for the blog here. I can just imagine now trying to explain to him what a blog is, LOL! And they are great flowers for sharing, you're right... Frank had it nailed way back when, I'm sure.

Nice to see the mountain Sage dropping by here and with an uber-cool pic as well! I can see why that reminded you of good ole SFingers... looks pretty curmudgeonly I'm sure! hehe Hope to see you stop by more often. :-)

olivia said...

LOL! The competition requires an actual flower to grow -- and in that you have me beat for sure! I'm hoping my seeds do, but given my luck w/ the datura (dot) (dot) (dot) ... :D

FARfetched said...

Wow, THOSE are poppies??? I'd'a never! Hat tip to Frank.... oh, tell him a blog is just a diary on the Internet, mostly using nicknames, and he'll probably catch on.

Speaking of which, happy blogiversary!

FARfetched said...

Uh-oh, I just showed the photos to Mrs. Fetched and now she wants a handful of those seeds. "I like weeds like that," she said when I warned her about the self-seeding part. Would they like the hot summers and mild winters here in Zone 8?

Family Man said...

I would have sworn I put something down here yesterday.

I agree with dada, frank's kewl. Wonderful pictures and commentary.

Happy belated blogiversary. Just to think I was here when it started. :)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there again FAR! Glad Mrs. Fetched found these fetching, and of course I'd be happy to send you some seeds for next year. I doubt you'd have much luck planting them in your zone right now, but I'd recommend sowing them in very late fall or early winter in your area. Give them your "winter" in the ground and they will likely come up in early spring after your bulbs are done. Keep in mind, though, that they are a very short lived annual and once they've exhausted their bloom phase, they go right into producing seeds. When the plants wither up and get dry (and you can hear the seeds rattle), they're time to yank and send to the compost. Collecting, of course the tons of seeds from the pods or just letting them go where they may (and they'll go everywhere!) I'd be happy to put together some seeds for you of these and any others we might have you like (e.g. sea holly). I should have plenty come fall (and hibiscus too if you like those). Rattle my cage again in a month or so!

Yo FM! Glad to see you made it by! The non-existent birthday cake is gone, alas, but thx for the kind wishes, blog daddy. I think we still have some Frosty Paws in the freezer if you'd like one of those to celebrate, hehe. Or maybe George would ....