poppy days

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The Dwarf Breadseed Poppy is carrying the banner for spring here. Quite silky banners too.


No stranger to the blog, posts on this poppy go back to 2010. The above photo is from 2011.

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And no disrespect intended for California’s state flower, the poppy Eschscholzia californica, but Papaver setigerum’s long neck and slim profile make it the perfect poppy for my garden.

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Both poppies have evolved in mediterranean winter wet/summer dry climates and will naturalize in your Southern California garden. If I had a bigger garden, there’d be lots more California native wildflowers joining in, but as it is, a few of these non-native poppies will have to signify spring.

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I wish this native thistle was half as exuberant, the very touchy, hard-to-establish Cirsium occidentale. I found this as a tiny seedling on the compost pile, just as a plant I bought in fall was keeling over in winter. Proof that at one point it flowered in the garden, even though I remember only the failures.

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The Poppy of Troy, another of its monikers, needs no coddling, self-sowing its slim tap root into the tightest quarters.

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It is the perfect spring guest, striking up sparkling conversations every year wherever it sows itself, departing quietly before the heat of summer. But not before knocking over that salt shaker of a seed pod, sowing the way for the spring party next year.

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7 Responses to poppy days

  1. Kris P says:

    Your post sent me outside (after a very brief downpour) to check the status of the 2 plants you gave me last month. They struggled through the last heatwave but remained standing. I caught the bloom on one last week but missed that on the second – both have seedpods now. Hopefully, they’ll be back next year! They’re certainly welcome. Thanks again.

  2. hoov says:

    Because it photographs like that, who couldn’t love it? But what about the heat of winter and spring, let alone summer? 🙁

  3. ks says:

    I love your annual Poppy tribute Denise, and always resolve to increase the inventory here. It’s difficult without winter rains-have not seen a sign of life from the boatload of seeds that I scattered from ‘Laurens Grape’.Maybe after todays rain ?

  4. Denise says:

    @Kris, I hope you don’t end up hating me for this poppy. On your large grounds, and without walls like my little garden, it might be too much of a good thing 😉
    @Hoov, I brought the one plant home sometime before 2010, and seeding from that initial poppy has produced flowering plants regularly every spring since. That’s one tough poppy. Depending on the heat in spring, it flowers shorter/longer. The forecast this April is cool, which will be a good month for poppies.
    @Kathy, I wonder if it seeds so well here because of the brick paths — it loves snuggling in between the garden and bricks.

  5. OK, here’s hoping my little seedlings do half as well as your gorgeous full grown plants are doing. I’ve finally joined the poppy bandwagon – this year it’s not only Escholzia californica ‘Tequila’ or somehtingantoher but Papaver somniferous ‘Lauren’s Grape’. Wish me luck. My cat has been sitting on every. single. seedling so far.

  6. David Feix says:

    And signify spring it does, beyond always looking elegant. As a gardener with very little winter sun, it doesn’t really have a place in my own garden, where Claytonia sibirica and Freesia laxa perform much the same role; ephemeral spring grace notes of bloom, then fade away, to be replaced by several species of self-sowing Impatiens and Begonia sutherlandii.

  7. Denise says:

    @Tamara, good luck with your purple poppy. I use old wire baskets on plants/seedlings that attract the diggers and squashers.
    @David, yes, grace notes, rather than massive, resource-intensive seasonal displays. Well said.

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