Poppy

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 This beautiful red oriental poppy bloomed exactly once.  It was a new addition to my garden in 2008, purchased on impulse at the farmer’s market. Having seen neighbors with gorgeous patches of poppies in the spring, I thought this would be the start of my own patch.  That dream died quickly.  The plant itself grew for a while, then seemed to go dormant.  Not one single flower showed itself last summer.  In the fall, it perked up, then it was gone for the winter.  This spring, the plant appeared, and a single stem grew, with a round, fuzzy bud on top.  Finally, it opened to this bright red flower.  Luckily, I took pictures right away, because that was the only flower that appeared, and it did not last more than a couple days. Looking for a little more information for this article, I learned that the dormancy period is normal, and that I should have cut the original stem off when it was done for a better chance of repeat blooms. Guess I learned something new today!

Poppies have been around for thousands of years, and this particular type, the oriental poppy is quite common.  They come in perennial and annual varieties and can be found in a huge range of colors and sizes.  All poppies usually have one flower per stem, but the flowers can be double, ruffled or smooth.  Certain types are grown specifically to make opium, or to harvest poppy seeds, but apparently, just about any poppy can be used to make an opium tea.

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My garden includes another poppy variety, which is called Moroccan Yellow, even though it looks orange.  This plant was another impulse buy this spring, and has already out-performed the much larger oriental poppy.  About once a week or so, since May, there has been one flower at a time, on top of a spindly little stem.  They rarely last more than a couple hours, as the slightest breeze blows the petals right off, but it’s nice to see that little burst of color.  This variety is also known to seed itself, so maybe next year I’ll have even more.

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