It has been a very mild Summer so far, though I suspect it is about to get hotter! Apart from the odd day in the late 30s/ early 40s, it has been more like a late Spring, which has been wonderful for gardening and has given us the opportunity to clean up and reorganize the cutting garden, which had started to get out of control! We have now moved all the Narcissi to their own little patches under trees and the ends of the pergola and arches, and the old freesias to their own bank, bordering the car parking flat, where they can run riot and naturalize to their heart’s content! We have divided all the replicating Dutch Iris, tulips and anemones, which we then replanted throughout all the newly dug beds. I was surprised how many new bulbs there were and hope they all bloom successfully next Spring! We transplanted the self-sown feverfew seedlings down the centre of the Dutch Iris and old zinnia beds and moved the latter’s self-sown seedlings on a very cool day to their own patch behind the dahlias in the recent peony poppy bed, leaving a few seedpods of the latter to dry out for seed. The zinnias are such tough plants and all have survived and are set to bloom in January. We were also fortunate in that another self-sown sunflower seedling is blooming in the same spot as last year and we have sowed the seed of some bright scarlet Mexican Sunflowers Tithonia on either side of the Helianthus annuus. They may not be successful, as the packet stipulates sowing them in Spring, but given the cooler weather we have been experiencing, I decided to give it a shot and see what happens! All going well, it should be a stunning display late Summer. The dahlias have already put on a wonderful show. I love all their rich vivid colours, as well as their more muted, softer pastel shades. They make wonderful bouquets for the house and the Christmas table! I also made a lovely, wild, blowsy bouquet from the early Summer flowers in the Soho and Moon Beds : bright blue Cornflowers, paler blue flowering salvia, mauve wallflowers, pretty white feverfew daisies, pink peony poppies and the seedpods of the latter and Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’. While we are still getting the odd peony poppy in the Soho Bed, the cutting garden has had masses of stunning ladybird Poppies, interspersed with a few self-sown Iceland Poppy seedlings from last year. The Soho Bed has settled down from its early November peak, but it still has nice colour with the roses (Lolita, Mr Lincoln and The Childrens’ Rose), and bergamot (photo 1), stachys and blue flowering salvia, replacing the wallflowers and the geum Lady Stratheden (photo 2). We have two other blue salvias in the Moon Bed : Indigo Spires, which we bought from the nursery at Foxglove Spires, and a light blue variety, grown from a cutting from my sister’s old garden. They contrast well with the white feverfew daisies and the gold daylilies, also given to me by my sister, along with this unusual flower, whose identity I have yet to ascertain. Any suggestions? Elsewhere in the garden, roses in bloom include : Autumn Delight (photo 1) and Penelope are reflowering in the white hybrid musk hedge; Frau Dagmar Hastrup (photo 2) in the rugosa hedge; Devoniensis on the pergola (photo 3); and Alister Stella Gray (photo 4) in preparation for its future entrance arch! However, the standouts of the Summer Garden are the cooling blues and whites : the blue Convovulus maritima and the Madonna lilies with their pure white trumpets and gold stamens, heralding the start of Summer. They look so beautiful with the sun shining through their petals; The potted gardenia at the back door with its sumptuous white blooms with their exotic sharp spicy sweet scent, which always reminds me of Christmas!; The white and blue blooms of the agapanthus bank, flowering in tandem with the mauve and white Acanthus mollis; and the soft blue shade of the new hydrangeas, their huge bushes showing great promise; and finally, the honey-drenched blooms of the pink and mauve buddleias down the path, constantly full of butterflies, bees and wasps! We have also had a few exciting surprises! Our new hosta Peter Pan has flowered with sprays of mauve flowers, which complement its blue-green foliage; Our dogwood Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ has bloomed for the very first time. Its green buds turn white, and finally a deep pink by the end of Summer; The Sprekelia (Jacobean Lily) bulb nearby at the bottom of the steps has grown back after disappearing for a long while, after a mishap with the whipper-snipper, and most exciting of all … we discovered that we actually have more Jacobean Lilies, with an up-till-then unidentified bulb at the end of the tulip bed coming into bloom with its distinctive red flower, another Christmas treat! While the NSW Christmas Bush flowers have yet to turn red (delayed due to the cold I suspect!), Lady X grevillea (photo 2) is doing the right thing with masses of red blooms for visiting honeyeaters, while the wattlebirds love my neighbour’s red hot pokers (Kniphofia), another Christmas flower (photo 1). The newly transplanted lemon verbena is also in full bloom and the rainforest plants are growing madly, including this beautiful staghorn on the loquat tree. Other garden stalwarts include the bromeliads, the pinks and geranium Rosalie in the Treasure Bed and the honeysuckle climbers on the fence. With so much in flower, the bees and butterflies are in seventh heaven. The fruit trees and vegetable garden are a mecca for the bats and the birds, though huge breeding flocks of Little Corellas and Galahs have taken over the trees, recently vacated motels for visiting flying foxes, which have now mostly disappeared to raid other areas. The skies are full of these noisy party acrobats, with the odd Sulphur-Crested and Yellow-Tailed Black cockatoo cousins joining in. The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are enjoying the scarlet Duranta berries, while the Satin Bowerbirds have been feasting on our beans and raspberries! This beautiful immature Crimson Parrot sent us scurrying to our bird books to confirm its identity!We were very excited when some White-Faced Herons decided to build a twiggy nest platform, high in the Black Cottonwood tree, though I suspect these two were visiting youngsters, as they don’t have the white adult face. We watch the parents’ changing of the guard (they share incubation duties) from our vantage point on the verandah. Apparently, the incubation period is 21 to 24 days, so hopefully, we will have some new baby herons for the New Year! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying a relaxing break. All our very Best Wishes for 2017! xxx
It has been a long month with a prolonged Spring season, but we are now finally getting some Summer heat with days in the mid-30s- a bit hot, given we haven’t had time to adjust yet (!), though we did have some beautiful soft recuperative rain last week. The Spring garden has been an absolute delight and quite magical, especially in the late afternoon sun. I think November has to be my favourite month with all the trees in their full regalia and Bearded Iris, Poppies and Roses all coming into their own. I just love the view from our verandah over our beautiful garden, with its borrowed landscape backdrop of trees of an infinite variety of foliage colour, texture, shape and form, especially in the misty rain or when the sun first comes up. The Soho Bed and Moon Bed have been such a show this Spring. The roses are in full swing. Here is a selection of blooms from each section of the garden:
Soho Bed: Hybrid Tea and David Austin roses: From left to right:
Top Row: Big Purple; Alnwick and Eglantyne
Middle Row: Heaven Scent; Our Copper Queen and Fair Bianca
Bottom Row: Lolita; Just Joey and Mister Lincoln
Moon Bed: David Austin roses: From left to right:
Top Row: Heritage; Lucetta and Windermere
Middle Row: Troilus; Jude the Obscure and Evelyn
Bottom Row: 2 photos William Morris; Golden Celebration;
Pergola: Climbing roses: From left to right:
Top Row: Adam; Souvenir de la Malmaison and Madame Alfred Carrière
Bottom Row: La Reine Victoria; New Dawn and Devoniensis;
House Walls: Climbing roses: From left to right:
Top Row: Lamarque; Mrs Herbert Stevens; Cecile Brunner
Bottom Row: Paul’s Himalayan Musk; Lamarque and Mrs Herbert Stevens;
Shed Front: From left to right:
Top Row: Viridiflora; Archiduc Joseph and Madame Isaac Pereire
Bottom Row: Fantin Latour; Fritz Nobis and Leander;
Shed Back: From left to right:
Top Row: Both photos Rêve d’Or
Bottom Row: Alister Stella Gray and Albertine;
Rugosas: From left to right:
Top Row: Roseraie de l’Hay; Russelliana (not a rugosa but at the end of rugosa hedge) and Frau Dagmar Hastrup)
Bottom Row: Frau Dagmar Hastrup ; Madame Georges Bruant and Roseraie de l’Hay
Hedge: From left to right:
Top Row: Kathleen; Stanwell Perpetual and Sombreuil
Bottom Row: Cornelia; Mutabilis and Penelope.
Cornelia has been such a show that she warrants another photo all of her own! She will eventually be supported by an arch. Sombreuil is on the other side.Unexpected: Unidentified root stocks instead of the roses I’d expected from the cuttings. Obviously, the originals had already died and been replaced by their root stocks: The deep red one is Dr. Huey, but I am not sure of the others: possibly Rosa multiflora (top left) and Rosa fortuniana (top right and bottom left), both of which have been used extensively as root stocks in the past.
The poppies have also been a visual delight from the simple wild form to the pink and purple peony poppies, which show such variation in colour and form. I love the seedheads, as well as their fairy-like appearance as they gradually lose their petals. The Iceland poppies planted last year are blooming for a second year and the new Ladybird Poppies Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ are so dramatic, especially among the cornflowers, though the seed packet also obviously included corn poppy seedlings as well! They replaced the ranunculus and Dutch Iris, which had their last blooms in early November. The cornflowers and the Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’ have persisted, as have the magical foxgloves, which have deepened in colour and have such amazing patterns in each bell. I love the seedheads of the nigella, which follow their exotic soft yellow flowers.And the dahlias, despite their initial setback with the late frosts, have returned in a myriad of bright colours.Other blooms in the garden include: Feverfew, Lady’s Mantle (Moon Bed), Italian Lavender (Soho Bed) and Calendula (Herb Garden). The Dianthus ‘Coconut Ice’ and ‘Doris’ are in full bloom in the treasure garden and the Rosalie Geranium and Convovulus provide a sea of blue. The bromeliads at the front entrance combine the blue and the pink. The blue flowering salvia in the Moon Bed is also in bloom, along with the white Aquilegia under the hydrangeas. I love the white petticoats of the Acanthus mollis. Beside the pergola, the Snowball tree Viburnum opulus has been in flower for the whole month and has almost finished, the ground beneath it covered in its fallen snow-like petals. The beautifully fragrant Philadelphus virginalis on the other side of the pergola has taken up the batten. The Carolina Allspice in front of the Snowball tree has also lasted a long time. Both honeysuckles are starting to cover the fence well and I adore their fresh sweet scent. At the bottom of the garden, the sweet peas provide fragrance and the red bottlebrush provides a splash of colour, as does the ripening fruit on the mulberry tree. We have been enjoying its berries, along with the abundant strawberries, the loquats and the produce of the vegetable garden. The birds and flying foxes are also in seventh heaven. The latter are so cute that it’s hard to begrudge them their bounty, though we do want some of the fruit! Visiting birds have included members of the Cockatoo family: Pink Galahs, Little Corellas, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and Black Cockatoos ; the parrot family: King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and Eastern Rosellas and the equally colourful Rainbow Lorikeets; and the Honeyeater family: an unidentified honeyeater in the grevillea and the delightful miniscule Scarlet Honeyeater.We also have a few White-faced Herons doing the rounds.Residents include the male Satin Bowerbird; the cheeky Grey Fantails and a new baby magpie, raised in a nest high in the pepperina tree. We found this exquisite little nest in our old camellia. Shaped like an elegant wineglass and bound by spiders’ webs, I suspect it belongs to our friend, the Grey Fantail!The insects have also been revelling in the late Spring garden: Bees in the poppies and butterflies on all the flowers; beetles on the angelica seed heads and dahlias; and Orange Stink Bugs on the cumquat trees- Ross’s form of Sport and Rec at the moment! Not that he needs the extra work! Ross has been very busy in the garden: watering; sowing seed ; and transplanting the lemon verbena to the corner of the shed. He started digging up the shed bed for a cottage garden, removing the tree dahlia tubers, much to my reluctance and initial resistance and mollified only by planting one of the freshly sprouting tubers (much to his reluctance!) next to his new compost bays, supported by my neighbour’s tall buddleias. We also planned another rose arch where the rocks are positioned. As already mentioned , he finally assembled a compost bay out of recycled pallets behind the strawberry bed and it looks fantastic! He had a play with a friend’s mulcher, reducing our enormous green waste pile to a much smaller amount of mulch for the vegie bed! We also moved the potting area down to the bottom shady corner of the garden and marked out the edges of the garden beds, which we will demarcate with recycled fence palings.Our final job in November was to dig up the Narcissi from the Iris bed in the cutting garden, now that their foliage has died down, to allow more room for the Iris as they multiply. We transplanted the bulbs in groupings to naturalize in the lawn: The Ziva Paperwhites on either side of the garden end of the pergola, as shown; the Golden Dawn jonquils around the Lemonade Tree on the staircase; two groupings of Winter Sun under the Golden Hornet Crab Apple tree and the Native Frangipani and Acropolis in front of the Michelia at the entrance to the pergola and finally, the wild Pheasant’s Eye Actaea in a swathe between the birdbath and the hill, where they can run rampant to their hearts’ delight! Just have to clean up the Iris bed now and stake those layabout cornflowers!!!Meanwhile up in the house, I have been busy making felt poppy cushions, a birthday apron for a friend, who has just launched her new poetry book ‘Kangaroos in the Blood’, hence the theme of the apron (!), and our 2016 Christmas Cake and Pudding! Happy Birthday Liz! I have also had a wonderful time arranging beautiful bouquets for the house, as well as for my daughter!
It’s Poppy Season again! Our first Peony Poppy opened overnight, while we have had plenty of wild purple single poppies for the last fortnight.Poppies belong to the family Papaveraceae and subfamily Papaveroideae . Papaver is derived from the Latin word ‘pappa’ for food or milk and alludes to the milky sap produced by some poppies. There are a number of different genera and cultivars listed below:
P. rhoeas: Field or Corn Poppy Cultivars: Shirley Poppy
P. commutatum ‘Ladybird’
P.somniferum: Opium Poppy: Flore Plena cultivars- semidouble and double, including Peony Poppy: Paeoniflorum/ Laciniatum groups
P. setigerum: Poppy of Troy
P. orientale: Oriental Poppy: Flore Plena cultivars- semidouble and double
P. nudicaule: Iceland Poppy
E.californica: Californian Poppy
M.cambrica: Welsh Poppy
M.grandis: Himalayan Blue Poppy
M.napaulensis: Nepal Poppy or Satin Poppy
M. betonicifolia: Tibetan Blue Poppy
Romneya: Matilija Poppy or Tree Poppy
Stylophorum: Celandine Poppy
Argemone: Prickly Poppy
Canbya: Pygmy Poppy
Stylomecon: Wind Poppy
Arctomecon: Desert Bearpaw Poppy
Hunnemannia: Tulip Poppy
Dendromecon: Tree Poppy
Poppies have a very long history. The Opium Poppy, P. somniferum, was domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe between 6000 BC and 3500 BC. There are images of opium poppies in ancient Sumerian artifacts from 4000 BC. Ancient Egyptian doctors prescribed the chewing of poppy seed to relieve pain. The Ancient Minoans also made and used opium. The Ancient Greeks later called the sap ‘opion’, which then became ‘opium’ and opium poppies were used as offerings to the dead in both Greek and Roman myths. They are used as emblems on tombstones, symbolizing eternal sleep and its flower and fruit is depicted on the coat-of-arms of the Royal College of Anaesthetists.In fact, all poppies are seen as a symbol of sleep, death and peace: Sleep, because of its sedative effect, and death, because of the blood-red colour of many poppies. P. rhoeas, the Flanders Poppy, grows wild on the First World War battlefields and is a symbol of remembrance of the soldiers, who died in the Great War. Ironically, they were also the subject of the First and Second Opium Wars of the late 1830s to the early 1860s between China, France and the British Empire. China tried to stop Western traders from selling and later smuggling opium from India into China. On the other side of the coin, in Persian History, red poppies symbolize ‘eternal love’.The poppy is on the coat-of-arms of the Republic of Macedonia, while the Californian Poppy is the state flower of… yes, California! For more interesting facts about the history of the poppy, see: https://www.deamuseum.org/ccp/opium/history.html
Herbaceous ornamental plants, including annuals, biennials and short-lived perennials.Most flower in late Spring/ early Summer and have blooms with 4 to 6 showy petals, which are crumpled in the bud, then open out flat as they mature, before falling away.
The two sepals fall away as the flower bud opens up. The centre of the flowers is a whorl of stamens and the ovary has 2 to many fused carpals. The pollen of Oriental Poppies is dark blue, while that of Corn Poppies is grey to dark green. Most poppies secrete a milky white latex when injured.Flowers are followed by attractive unilocular seed capsules, capped by the dried stigma and containing many fine black seeds , which escape through tiny holes below the stigma disc with the slightest breeze. Some species are monocarpic, dying after flowering. Many species self-seed freely and can become an agricultural weed.There are 70 to 100 species in Papaver genus alone, so I will be discussing the more common garden varieties.
Papaver rhoeas : Corn Poppy/Field Poppy/ Flanders Poppy
Annual herbaceous plant up to 70 cm tall.Symbol of agricultural fertility in the ancient times and of remembrance of the First World War casualties. We drove past fields of wild poppies in the Cevenne region of France.Papaver, also ‘pappa’, is the Latin for food or milk and rhoeas means red in Greek.Habitat: Thought to be native to the eastern Mediterranean region, and probably introduced to northwest Europe in the seed-corn of early settlers. Now widespread throughout Western Asia, Europe and North Africa.Description: Flowers late Spring with blooms, 50-100 mm across, with 4 vivid red petals with a black spot at their base.
The flower stem has coarse hairs and the seed capsules are obovoid. They contain the alkaloid rhoeadine, which is a mild sedative.
Cultivars (all available from Lambley Nursery) include:
Shirley Poppy ‘Angels’ Choir’: Double, semi-double and single flowers, many of which are bicolors, in cream, pastel pink, rose, salmon, peach, apricot, lavender and dove grey;
Shirley Poppy ‘Double Mixed’: Double flowers ranging from white to pale lilac, pink and red.
Shirley Poppy ‘Dawn Chorus’: Flecked and edged in many colour combinations, these crinkled satin flowers range in colour from pure white and vanilla to soft pink, apple-blossom, scarlet and slate blue.
Papaver rhoeas ‘Bridal Silk’: New strain of P. rhoeas with white flowers
Papaver rhoeas ‘American Legion’: Heirloom red flower with white cross in the centre
Papaver rhoeas’Pandora’: Burgundy-red to pinkish-red flowers
Papaver rhoeas ‘Mother of Pearl’: Strain developed by Welsh artist Cedric Morris in his Suffolk garden ‘Benton End’. Soft smoky colours include white, grey, lilac, mauve, pink and soft orange. Many of the poppies are flecked and there are some picotees.
Seeds should be surface sown in a sunny spot late Autumn to mid-Winter, then thinned to 10 to 40cm apart. Forms a long lived soil seed bank that can germinate when soil is disturbed, so is virtually a weed in parts of Europe.Papaver commutatum: Ladybird Poppy
Erect annual 45 cm tall and 15 cm wide with 8cm diameter bright red flowers with a shiny black splotch at the base of each petal in early Summer. Self-seeds easily.
Native to North Turkey,North-West Iran and the Caucasus, Papaver comutatum was developed using a species introduced from Russia in 1876 by Mr William Thompson, the founder of Thompson and Morgan.
The species name commutatum comes from the Latin commutata, meaning ‘changed or changing’. It is used for a species that is very similar to one already best known. In this case, ‘similar to’ the common poppy Papaver rhoeas.
Surface sow seed late Autumn/ early Winter.
Papaver somniferum: Opium Poppy
Habitat: Originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, but its origin has been obscured by ancient cultivation throughout Europe and South-East Asia. It has naturalized in Britain and other temperate climates throughout the world. It is the only poppy, grown as an agricultural crop on a large scale, primarily for opium and poppy seeds.Name: ‘Somniferum’ is the Latin word for ‘Sleep-inducing’.Description: Annual herb up to 1m high. All plant parts are glaucous (grey-green), the stem and leaves sparsely covered with coarse hairs, the lobed leaves clasping the stem at the base. The flowers are 120mm diameter and have 4 white, mauve or red petals, which can have dark markings at the base. They flower in Spring and early Summer. The hairless, round seed capsule is topped with 12 to 18 radiating stigmatic rays and contains many fine black seeds.There are many subspecies and varieties and cultivars, so great variation in : flower colour; petal number and shape; number of flowers and fruit; number and colour of seeds; and production of opium, though most varieties, including those most popular for ornamental use or seed production, have higher morphine content than other poppies.There are two subgroups grown for ornamental use in the garden :
Paeoniflorum Group: Peony Poppies: very double flowers of many colours;Laciniatum Group: very double, deeply lobed flowers, which look like pompoms.Lambley Nursery sells the seed of a variety of Peony Poppies for the garden: Double Coral; Double Red; Double White and Double Mauve and Pink, which I grew last year- I suspect some of them may have been Laciniatum strains as well! Seed should be sown in situ 3mm deep or just sprinkled on the soil surface from mid-Autumn to mid-Winter, then the seedlings thinned to 20 to 30 mm apart. They self-seed easily, with many seedlings appearing spontaneously in the Soho Bed and I have also sown last year’s seed in the Cutting Garden in rows. Lambleys also sell a Peony poppy called ‘Danish Flag’, a bright red single flower with a central white cross.
Papaver setigerum: Poppy of Troy/ Dwarf Breadseed Poppy.
Herbaceous annual plant, closely related to and sometimes classified as a subspecies of P. somniferum. Native to the Mediterranean region and grows wild in pastures and fields in southwestern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece) and in North Africa.Species name ‘setigerum’ derives from the Latin word ‘saetiger’, meaning ‘bristly’, referring to the short bristle on the top of the lobes of its leaves.The flowers have four pink-purple petals, with a dark purple blotch at the base and bloom in late Spring/ early Summer, followed by glabrous seed capsules, 2 to 3 cm long.Papaver orientale: Oriental Poppy
Perennial flowering plant.
Native to the Caucasus, North-east Turkey and Northern Iran.Grows a mound of finely-cut hairy foliage in Spring, followed by flowers. After flowering, the foliage completely dies away, an adaptation allowing survival in the Summer droughts of Central Asia, to be renewed after Autumn rains.
Originally a scarlet-orange, there are a number of cultivars with colours ranging from white with black blotches to pinks and salmons to deep maroon and plum. Some well-known cultivars are: ‘Beauty of Livermere’ (red); ‘Cedric Morris’ (pale pink and black) and ‘Perry’s White’ (white with dark purple splotches in the centre).
Oriental Poppies do not produce any narcotic alkaloids like morphine or codeine.
They like a light calcerous soil and full sun or partial shade. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1 cm after the frosts have passed, when the days are 21 degrees Celsius and the soil has warmed up. Germination takes 10 to 20 days. They do not handle transplanting or over-watering well. Mulch in Winter to protect the plant from frosts.
Papaver nudicaule: Iceland Poppy
Boreal flowering plant, native to the subpolar regions of Europe, Asia and North AmericaHardy short-lived perennials, often grown as biennials.Large papery bowl-shaped slightly fragrant flowers on hairy curved stems, one foot long, in late Spring/ early Summer. Wild species is white or yellow, but the cultivars range in colour from white, cream, lemon and yellow to pink, rose, salmon, orange and red and even bicolors. Last year, I grew ‘Excelsior’. Other cultivars include: ‘Matilda’ and ‘Oranges and Lemons’. They are the best poppy for cutting, the blooms lasting several days in a vase.Feathery blue-green foliage. All parts of the plant contain toxic alkaloids and are poisonous.The seeds are extremely tiny and should be scattered on the soil surface in situ, as their long tap roots resent disturbance, in Late Autumn and Winter. They like a well-drained garden bed in full sun, but do not handle hot weather well, so are best in climates with cooler Summers, where they can last 2 to 3 seasons.Eschsolzia californica: Californian Poppy
The Eschsolzia genus has 12 annual or perennial species and was named after the Baltic german/ Imperial Russian botanist, Johann Friedrich von Escholtz (1793-1831).Leaves are deeply cut, glaucous and glabrous, and mainly basal.Flowers are funnel shaped and terminal with 4 yellow or orange petals and 12-numerous stamens. There are a large number of cultivars, whose name generally reflect their colour: Orange King; Tropical Sunset (sunset colours- red, orange, gold); Tequila Sunrise (mandarin, red and cream); Dusky Rose and Buttercream.
They are borne alone of in many cymes and close in cloudy weather. The two fused sepals fall off as the flower bud opens. The seedpods are long and pointy and split when ripe to release many tiny black seeds. They self-seed easily, but do not breed true to type, which leads to some interesting combinations and chance surprises. Compare the photo above of the original plantings (only orange) with the photos below (2nd generation plants in the same spot). I was delighted to discover second-generation bright orange poppies under my deep purple Rugosa roses, while their butter-cream sisters chose to carpet the ground under my salmon-pink Vanguard rose, even though I originally only planted the orange form (see photo above and compare to photo below). Definitely the garden devas at work!Californian Poppies like warm dry climates, are drought-tolerant and can withstand some frost. They grow in poor or sandy soils with good drainage and are easy to grow. In fact, once you have them, you will never get rid of them! They can be quite invasive. Their taproot gives off a colorless or orange clear juice, which is mildly toxic.
Name derives from the Greek words : ‘Mekon’ meaning ‘Poppy’ and ‘opsis’ meaning ‘alike’.
Shortlived perennials, which like partial shade and are heavy feeders.
The Welsh Poppy, Meconopsis cambric, is indigenous to England, Wales, Ireland and Western Europe. It has yellow or orange flowers, self-seeds readily and likes damp shady places and rocky ground.
The 40 other species of Meconopsis are all found in the Himalayan region, including Meconopsis grandis: Himalayan Blue Poppy, the national flower of Bhutan, M. betonicifolia, the Tibetan Blue Poppy and Meconopsis napaulensis, the Nepal Poppy or Satin Poppy. Most are monocarpic and difficult to maintain in cultivation. For new growers, some good sites are: http://www.meconopsis.org and http://www.gardenershq.com/meconopsis-grandis.php.
Romneya: Matilija Poppy/ Tree Poppy
Native habitat is Southern California and Northern Mexico.
Perennial sub-shrubs with woody stems, 2.5m high and 1m wide.
Silver-green deeply cut leaves and 13cm diameter flowers with an intense yellow centre, resulting in its other name of ‘Fried Egg Plant’.
Grow in a warm sunny spot with fertile well-drained soil. Not easily grown, but once established are difficult to remove. Often sprout after fire in its native habitat.
Ornamental garden plants
Poppy seeds are edible and are an important food source, being rich in oil, carbohydrates, calcium and protein. The seeds are harvested from P.somniferum. Poppy seed production is largest in the Czech Republic, followed by Spain, Hungary, Turkey, Germany and France in that order. Poppy seeds are used widely in traditional pastries and cakes in Central Europe, as well as in a Poppy Seed Cake in Turkey and Kutia (a grainy pudding) in the Ukraine. They are also used in curries and sprinkled on bread. Poppy Oil is used as a cooking oil, in salad dressings and in margarine, as well as being added to spices for use in cakes and bread.
Papaver somniferum is also the source of the drug opium, which contains powerful medicinal alkaloids called opiates, which include morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, noscopine and oripavine and has been used as an analgesic and narcotic medicinal drug, as well as a recreational drug.
Widely cultivated throughout the world, its production is monitored by international agencies and every country has its own rules and regulations about its growth and production. For medicinal crops, it was traditionally produced in Turkey and India, but is now also grown in Australia, especially Tasmania. Incisions are made in the green seed pods and the latex, which oozes out is collected when dried and opiate drugs extracted from the opium. Opium was dissolved in alcohol and/or water to make Tincture of Opium or Laudanum, used widely in the late 1800s. It has been used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions from pain to asthma, stomach complaints and even bad eyesight!Floristry: Both flowers and seedpods. Cut or buy when 1 to 2 flowers are opening and the rest of the buds are showing some colour (photo below). The ends of the poppy stems can be scalded with boiling water to stop the leakage of sap, otherwise wear gloves when handling the flowers to avoid skin irritation. Condition in a separate container of water for 24 hours before recutting the stems and arranging in a vase with floral preservative. Will last up to 5 days.Miscellaneous:
Poppy products are also used in paints and varnishes, as well as cosmetics.Finally, the last feature post request for my talented daughter Caro- a quick study of some of our garden poppies, which would make great cards. December’s feature post plant is based on one of her early watercolours. Thank you so much darling for all your wonderful paintings! I really appreciate and treasure all your work! And to finish this post, a dramatic photo of a sunlit peony poppy, which I took yesterday!
Well! What a month it has been! The mid-Spring garden has more than compensated for its late start and even though the temperatures are cooler than usual, the days are still sunny. There was an excellent fall of snow on the mountains last week – now that all the ski lifts have closed! The photos below were taken on our trips to Canberra on the 19th (first photo) and 23rd October (last 2 photos) this past week. It was actually snowing in Nimmitabel on Sunday! The cooler weather has prolonged the flowering season of many of the early Spring blooms, including bluebells under the crab apple tree, tulips (early October), hellebores and clivias. The trees have all just about gained their new foliage for the season, the poplars being the last trees to come into leaf, and the plums have finished flowering, while the crab apples are in their final days (photos 3 to 5). The cockatoos (photos 3 and 4) and king parrots loved the blossoms- a bit crazy really, as they are depleting their future fruit source! The latter (photo 2) also love to graze the weeds in the vegie garden, as does the white-faced heron (photo 1)! The apples have luscious white blooms and are setting fruit already. Meantime, the loquat fruits are turning yellow, attracting king parrots and bowerbirds by day and possums and fruit bats at night, the latter occasionally waking us up with their skirmishes. I don’t think we humans will get much of a look in when it comes to the fruit! At least, the white mulberries are starting to ripen and the blueberries and raspberries are in flower. We have been feasting on delicious organic strawberries from our new bed, though I suspect a slug may also have been, as the wire guards preclude attack by birds or rabbits! The rhubarb has also provided delicious desserts and I have been substituting angelica leaves for the sugar, at least in the fruit part of rhubarb and apple crumble- a great success! We have been enjoying our own home-grown onions, lettuce, rainbow chard and baby spinach from the vegetable garden.I also made another batch of cumquat marmalade from the 1 kg fruit we harvested. I would strongly advise NOT to combine blogging with jam making, but I think I just got away with it. Even though the marmalade is darker than usual, it set brilliantly! Fortunately, the cumquat trees are still covered in lots of new blooms. I love their sweet scent as we walk past them. The Michelia has almost finished flowering too, but the Weigela next door has now replaced it. Initially, its blooms opened white and I was a little disappointed, as I had bought it as a pink weigela to complement the pink flowering currant on the other side of the pergola entrance. I thought that the plant must have been mislabelled, but to my great delight, the blooms then turned a soft pink, deepening in intensity as they age. This plant is so pretty with its colour variations! The second photo below is my neighbour’s pure white weigela. Unfortunately, the flowering currant did not flower this year (with all its moves!), but it is doing well and the snowball tree behind it has masses of lime-green, turning white, globular blooms. The choisya has a mass of white starry flowers, which look very similar to the blooms of the citrus trees behind it. The Carolina Allspice has a number of buds this year, as has the Philadelphus virginalis, and I am keen to see the form of the latter’s blooms, as when it first bloomed last year, the flowers were the correct double form, but I did find some single ones later on, which could be root stock. We will just have to wait and see! On our recent trip to the Southern Highlands, we bought a Belle Etoile Philadelphus, with large single very fragrant flowers, which we have planted next to the old lilac on the fence. Ross has cut an archway between the bamboos and a path behind the large stand to access this part of the garden.The blackbird has finished nesting in the bamboo, but a magpie has been very busy creating her brooding chamber high in the top of the Pepperina tree.Our new Katherine Havermeyer lilac is a delight and is growing and blooming well. The Chaenomeles are still throwing out the odd bloom and the red rhododendron and white azalea are in full bloom, though we will probably move the azalea into a less shaded situation after it has finished flowering. My Grevillea ‘Lady X’ is perpetually in flower (last photo)! Unlike the azalea, the Viburnum plicatum however appears to be thriving in full shade and we also bought two different hostas- Peter Pan and Allan P Mc Connell- from Moidart Nursery, near Bowral, to fill out this shady nook. I also discovered some Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis there- very expensive, as it is very difficult to source here in Australia- in fact, this is the only place I have ever seen it- and I may also let it run riot here among the snowdrops, though initially will put it in the treasure bed until I am sure it germinates next year! Here are the treasures we brought home! We also bought some blue primroses, a lovely deep blue auricula (photo 3), Pulsatilla vulgaris, Rhodohypoxis baurii (photo 4), a variegated Arabis procurrens and Azorella trifurcata to fill out the gaps in this bed as the grape hyacinth die down- I love their little seed pods (photo 2)! We planted the new plants in the treasure bed yesterday morning. The Lily of the Valley (photo 1) are also up and the Rosalie Geranium has returned. The Acanthus soldiers and blue Convovulus mauritanicus (photo 2) are on the march nearby. I love the pattern and form of the Acanthus, the photos below showing why their common name is Oyster Plant, and their colour really compliments the house walls. The Garden beds have been such a treat this Spring! The Cutting Garden is a delight with lots of clear royal blue, pale hyacinth blue, bright gold and clean white Dutch Iris and blue cornflowers, forming a backdrop to the bright intense jewel-like ranunculus. Such a treat! The beautifully-scented freesias (photo 1) have just about finished, but the nigella amongst it is in bud. I suspect they are the self-seeded progeny of last year’s lime-green variety (photo 2), rather than the new blue nigella, which we sowed last Autumn. The foxglove is in bloom again, its flowers displaying a similar habit to the weigela- white turning pink, from the base up (photos 3 and 4)! The Iceland Poppies from last year also self-seeded, producing white, gold and orange blooms. So stunning and long-lasting when cut. Here are more photos of the individual ranunculus blooms.The Soho Bed is such a picture and there is very little bare ground to be seen! I am a bit eclectic when it comes to style and colour, but somehow the jumble of colours seems to work – in my eyes anyway! The loyal wallflowers have been joined by a variety of other mauves and purples in the catmint, the wild poppies and the stunning Italian Lavender; blue forget-me-knot; pink thrift and verbena and gold highlights in the old gold bearded iris and now the geum. The bees, both honey bees and native bees, and butterflies are in heaven! Here are two Spring vases from the garden! The Moon Bed is also very beautiful with soft mauve bearded iris, rescued from the heavy shade of the cumquat trees and transplanted to the new Moon Bed, where they can recapture the glory of their flowering period. We did not know what colour they would be, so waited with baited breath as their blooms slowly opened. We were delighted with their dreamy colour, Ross’s favourite, and one which really suits the Moon Bed, while the gold bearded iris are perfect in our sunny Soho Bed! The blue salvia, yellow Paris daisies and day lilies and pink peony (1st photo below) are all growing madly and the roses all have fat bu