Tag Archives: poppies

last of the poppies

I’m just now starting to see photos of poppies in bloom showing up in gardens in colder climates, but by June the annual poppies are usually finished here.
In my garden, as June continues the mild, overcast weather of May, there are a couple of holdouts.

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I’ve never planted this variety, which looks like the simple “Lettuce Leaf Poppy.” I note that they showed up in 2013, too, here.
“Lettuce Leaf Poppy” and “Breadseed Poppy” are the politically correct common names, because we musn’t use the “o” word.
(For a great story on opium dens, you can’t beat Conan Doyle’s “The Man With The Twisted Lip.”)
Maybe it rode in on a poppy seed bagel. My poppy show comes mainly from Papaver setigerum, which I’ve documented profusely on the blog.
It’s much smaller in stature than those towering in the photo above.
With these much bigger poppies, when a new flower is open in the morning, it takes you aback, like someone shouting, “Hey! Check it out! Whaddaya think?!”
But any poppy is OK by me. Poppies are characters loaded with silky personality.
And there’s all that…um, history they carry, that illicit, pharmaceutical, double life they’ve led since prehistoric times.
Poppies and people and pain relief go way, way back.

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There’s just these two plants left that germinated later than the first flush of poppies that got going in February and March, which is typical for Southern California.
Drip hoses and continuing overcast weather are responsible for these remaining two. We’ve loved the gloomy skies of May and June, a kind of weather I find rather addictive.

flea market prep

I had so much fun yesterday organizing for the flea market this Sunday. Tapping poppy seeds into packets, gathering up all the lab beakers into a partitioned wooden box for a safe journey, making bunches of dried poppy seedpods to work their dessicated charms in old pharmacy jars.

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But then there was the crazy part too. The “You can’t sell that! It’s a first edition! What’s gotten into you? Not the antlers! You’re selling our history!

Okay, okay, calm down. See? It’s going back on the shelf. Better now? Just breathe deep.

It also occurred to me yesterday to add the stacks of garden books into the outgoing flea market pile. Thomas Hobbs, Sarah Raven, Christopher Lloyd, out they go.
The old Gardens Illustrated too. At the very least, Reuben, Dustin, and I will have something to read at the flea.

I had no idea flea market prep would be so…so very cleansing. I’ve been adding more photos under the Dates to Remember link at the top.


Bloom Day April 2013

Spring is moving fast here in Southern California. I’ve already checked out some of the gardens on our host’s site for Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, and saw lots of traditional spring shrubs and bulbs and perennials like hellebores in amazing colors just coming into bloom. Slowly but surely spring is spreading across the land. Huzzah!

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Spring has had an unmistakably orange cast to it in my garden this year. A kniphofia in its current 50/50 bar coloration.

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Same kniphofia about a week ago.
I moved this one around and didn’t keep track of the name, but all my kniphofias come from Digging Dog, which has a great list.

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is just starting to bloom, and hopefully the isoplexis will hang in there a little longer.
The grass Stipa gigantea was moved here last fall and hasn’t missed a beat, showing lots of bloom stalks.

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Tweedia caerulea/Oxypetalum caerulea may be a rare baby blue in color but it is a surprisingly tough plant.
This one survived forgotten and neglected in a container throughout the mostly rainless winter.
It’s climbing up a castor bean, Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple.’

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The self-sowing annual Senecio stellata started bloom this week. Big leaves, tall, and likes it on the shady side.

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Another tall one, Albuca maxima.

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This South African bulb has been thriving in the front gravel garden, which gets very little summer water. Over 5 feet tall, it reminds me of a giant galanthus.

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More white blooms, Erodium pelargoniflorum, a prolific self-seeder in the front gravel garden.

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The fringe tree on the east side of the house, Chionanthus retusus, just about at maximum white-out.

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The fried egg on a long stalk near the Euphorbia cotinifolia tree trunk is Argemone munita. Hopefully better photos to come.
I wouldn’t mind about six more of these self-sown in the garden for next year.

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Self-sowing white valerian forming buds, with the lavender bells of the shrub prostranthera, the Australian mintbush.

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The mintbush with the succulent Senecio anteuphorbium.

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A gift pelargonium, no ID. The small details in the leaves and flowers of these simple pelargoniums get me every time.

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Closeup of the tiny flowers.

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The plant at its base is even more self-effacing, with a big name for such a quiet plant, Zaluzianskya capensis.

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Lots of self-sown nicotianas. The flowers are too small to be pure N. alata, so it probably has some langsdorfii in the mix.
Whatever its parentage, lime green flowers always work for me.

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Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix,’ with a potted begonia for scale. This strain of flowering tobacco has been keeping hummingbirds happy all winter.
This is the first begonia to bloom (again, no ID!), and the colocasias are just beginning to leaf out.

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The porch poppies, with lots more poppies in bloom in the garden.

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The anigozanthos might be a tad too close to the euphorbia, but I love the lime green and orange together.

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The last two photos are by MB Maher, who was in town briefly and tried to get more of the Euphorbia lambii from a higher angle.

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MB Maher’s photo of the Salvia chiapensis with a bit of purple in the center from Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP,’ planted from gallons a couple weeks ago.
I have a feeling that yucca will be in bloom for May Bloom Day. See you then!

Now that Google Reader is in the dustbin of history, I’m trying out Bloglovin for organizing blogs I want to follow.
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tuesday clippings 3/26/13

Nothing too thematic, just some odds and ends.

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To prove I left the plant sale tables briefly and did a lap in the show room at the recent Orange County CSSA show, here’s a Dyckia ‘Brittle Star’ hybrid that won an award. My own big clump of dyckia is starting to throw up bloom stalks, which the snails munch like asparagus spears. The slimy gourmands ate every bloom last year, and they’re on their way to doing it again this year. Some of that biodegradable snail bait was dispensed this morning, possibly too little too late.

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In the back garden, between the poppies and the anthemis, there’s scarcely any bare soil showing and it’s not even April.
I’ve started thinning out the poppies more aggressively. Diascia personata is the not-yet-blooming swathe of green behind the Agave americana var. striata in the tall green pot.

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Starting to bloom this week, though the event could easily pass unnoticed, is the Australian mintbush, Prostranthera ovalifolia ‘Variegata,’ a shimmering, aromatic shrub of medium size. I’m keeping it pruned to approximately 4 X 4 feet. Tiny, luminous, evergreen leaves, a loose, open form with contrasting dark stems. Tolerates dry but can handle regular garden irrigation. Not a specimen plant, its attractions are subtle. It brings pattern and light, not weight, to the garden. Some might find it a little nondescript. I wish I had room for more than one. In bloom its branches become studded with tiny lilac-colored bells. Not very long-lived, this is a shrub I replant over and over.

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Leaving subtle behind, I’m so excited to see some blooms on the Canary Island Foxglove, Isoplexis canariensis. These shrubby foxglove relatives may save me the trouble of throwing more money at trialing more of the rusty-colored digitalis species like ferruginea and trojana, which have yet to make it through winter. They just melt away, leaving me scratching the soil where they were planted searching for signs of life.
Not enough rainfall maybe.

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Another look at the isoplexis, a big sturdy plant. Nothing seems to bother it, knock wood.

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Geranium maderense ‘Alba’ opened some of its pure, laundry white blooms this morning.

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The back garden viewing gallery, the bricks freshly cleaned and weeded by Marty.
I think he’s got the attention to detail necessary to win prizes at plant shows. Good thing one of us does.
I insisted he leave a few poppies that had self-sown into the bricks.
I used to keep a small table here too, until I planted that Eryngium padanifolium too close. But what a stunning plant it is.

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Around the corner on the east side of the house, the pittosporum is turning into quite the tillandsia outpost.
A neighbor brought over a basketful last week. I love it when neighbors have your number.

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The battle of the compound leaves, melianthus vs. tetrapanax. The purple wash on the melianthus’ leaves is about as strong as it gets. I think it recedes a bit in summer. What an amazingly beautiful compact selection ‘Purple Haze’ is. Fantastic improvement on the species for small gardens.


poppies, a minor obsession

Newt is taking time out of her busy day to helpfully point out where the poppies will be blooming this year.

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Last year’s runnel of poppies was in the crevice along the back porch, but this year they’ve jumped a few feet over and have self-sown into crevices in the dry-laid bricks. These are again the Poppy of Troy, Papaver setigerum, which is a nicely compact, breadseed-type poppy, a single with pale lilac-colored petals surrounding a central dark blotch. There are scads of species and breadseed varieties to try that improvise on the timeless poppy theme, a performance that never grows stale. A solitary bud peeps out of the leaves, dangles demurely as the slim stalk elongates, until all pretense of shyness is abandoned as sepals burst and fall, revealing impossibly silky, translucent petals. It always strikes me as a sly wink of nature to imbue a plant with such captivating drama and energy as well as deadly soporific properties. (Annie’s Annuals & Perennials has by far the best selection known to mankind and is the original source of my self-sowing poppies.)

While visiting the Bay Area a couple weeks ago, I was introduced to a marvelous source of salvage and cast-offs, a huge warehouse devoted to recycling and repurposing in Berkeley called Urban Ore, where I found a pair of botanical prints, one of plants from the malvaceae family and this one of papaveraceae, both now hanging in the bath house. Botanical prints can lead one down a chintzy path I generally try to avoid, but I just couldn’t walk away from these poppies.

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If I lived nearby, I’d check out Urban Ore frequently. The best stuff disappears within hours of arrival.

A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

Elvis Costello does Penny Lane for his mum and the POTUS, filmed June 2, 2010, for PBS. I know I’m betraying both my age and a schmaltz streak a mile wide, but…

this is lovely. Well done, Elvis. I was too young to catch the Beatles, but Elvis and I go way back (1976 My Aim Is True).

Found at Open Culture

And of course the pretty nurse knew that, for cut flowers, she needed to sear the ends of the poppies with a lit match first, right?

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Poppy Music

I’ve held on to these little poppies as long as possible, and tonight they were given a photographic bon voyage by MB Maher.
When it’s twilight, magic hour, the garden becomes an open-air studio. I handled the linen backdrop. A few blades of Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’ strayed into frame.

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Poppy ruprifragum still blooms in the front garden, but the back garden’s poppies are all rustling seedpods. These are the seedpods of Papaver setigerum, left to decline in situ, although lower leaves are stripped off when decrepitude becomes too unsightly or insect ridden. As I’ve written before, this little poppy tucks itself in unobtrusively and doesn’t lean on or brawl with neighbors like so many of the bigger somniferum varieties, so a few plants have been allowed to remain. Not that I need any more seed, but running a hand along the pods releases their percussive music, different tones emanating from seedpods of plants of varying age.

Into White

A simple garden with acres of sky.

Fearing I had carelessly brought in more white flowers than is sensible, it turns out it wasn’t much of a white-out after all, except maybe with the camera.
For me, it’d be impossible to photograph this diascia without the euphorbia leaning in. Probably the white diascia ‘Ice Cracker’. The euphorbia is ‘Ascot Rainbow’:

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Focusing solely on color can make gardening seem like interior design that fights back, when of course gardens are so much more.
(The house is getting that “museum” look, but the garden is always full of surprises.)
Still, I like the way the white flowers stand by ready to gracefully accompany whatever cycles into bloom, such as the verbascum:

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The white agrostemma defies all photographic attempts so far. The white valerian I seeded last fall is easier to capture, mixing it up with the reseeding dwarf breadseed poppies, P. setigerum. Centranthus ruber naturalizes locally but always the reddish color:

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The valerian has reached the top of the 5-foot plant stand, up which I had ambitious plans to grow the vine rhodochiton. Except rhodochiton wants nothing to do with me or my garden. I hear it grows beautifully for Northern California. Past time to dump out the barren seed trays.

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The ‘Limelight’ Miracles of Peru are reseeding lightly but pack a concentrated jolt of color into the ghostly whites.

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Cobaea scandens is responding to the lengthening days with more blooms. This vine also has a white variety:

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The diascia and valerian will bloom into fall.

With everything emptying into white

(only those born before 1965 will get the song lyric reference.)