The season is over for the great perennial Oriental poppies but it is not the end of the poppies this year. There are many wonderful annual and biennial poppies that flower later in the summer.
Papaver Rhoeas, the common annual poppy is a great favorite of mine. In its natural state it is flaming red but has been hybridized into many soft colors as well (Shirley poppies) in both singles and doubles. My photographs feature this poppy in its red and softer pink manifestations.
Another lovely annual poppy is papaver somniferum, the opium poppy. This poppy is the source of both opium and poppy seeds. Its big seed heads are often dried for winter arrangements. I believe this poppy also started out red but there is an army of hybrids including huge, fluffy mop heads in white, purple, pink. A particular favorite of mine is called Flemish poppy, a soft off white streaked with red that belongs in an old Flemish oil painting.
Papaver nudicaule, the Iceland poppy, is usually classified as a biennial but in cooler areas like my New Hampshire hillside it is more or less perennial It has the look of crepe paper and comes in warmer colors than Shirley poppies, soft oranges, yellows and whites.
Growing Annual Poppies
Poppies are easy to grow. They can be started by scattering seed over prepared garden soil in early spring: since they are quite hardy they can withstand mild frosts. I usually start mine inside under lights in March to plant out in early May. They don’t like transplanting so they should be started in individual peat pots or plastic pots. They reseed readily so plants emerge all over the garden adding little touches of color.
I love this shirt and its name, the Hippy, Trippy, Butterfly and Poppy Shirt. What a joy to wear these poppies and butterflies. It is made by Vigilante Labs.