It’s that time of year again: every morning I look at the mirror, sternly, and say “ Leslie, you cannot grow everything.” Everything meaning vegetables and annual flowers. Even I know I can’t do much about my fantasies in the tree and shrub department.
Sitting cuddled up with a big pile of catalogs and a ballpoint (felt tips bleed through) is one of the best cheap thrills going, and buying way too many seeds isn’t all that much more expensive, at least compared to the trouble you can get into at an outfit like forestfarm. But this is not about that, it’s about remembering to leave room for the seeds that plant themselves.
The alyssum is a never fail; vast numbers of the tiny seedlings always manage to survive no matter how often you disturb the soil to plant something larger and flashier.
The poppies have been addressed here before, in Shirley Poppies, One of Our Better Weeds, but it never hurts to praise the niftiest thing about them: they’re noteworthily promiscuous, cross breeding over and over so each is different from the rest. Every spring morning brings beautiful surprises.
Including many variations that are not Shirley poppies, according to Reverend William Wilks, who gets to be definite about it because he’s the one who developed and named them, back in the 1880’s. By the Reverend’s definition: Shirley Poppies
(1) are single,
(2) always have a white base
with (3) yellow or white stamens, anthers and pollen,
(4) never have the smallest particle of black.
The original species, Papaver rhoeas, is bright red, with that big black blotch. Reverend Wilks started out with one that had a fine white piccottee edge
and that’s why all the lovely variations that would give the Reverend fits should never be called Shirley poppies, although they are more or less all the time, including ( as you may have noticed) by me.
The ancestor of my weeds was a packet of Angels Choir, bought from Thompson and Morgan about 25 years ago, before everybody and their brother was carrying the seeds.
Everybody and their brother still doesn’t offer the wide range of old fashioned annuals found at Select Seeds, however, so if you don’t have a poppy growing friend to provide you with the necessary…
(Rhoeas is pronounced row-ays, should you for some reason want to be botanical about it. Otherwise, corn poppy and field poppy are equally acceptable.)