I grew these peachy-pink Oriental poppies from seed (“Pizzicato Mix”) a few years ago when the Plant Goddess and I were selling our home-grown herbs and flowers every Saturday at a summer outdoor farmer’s market.
We found that if you took a blooming poppy to the market it would always sell, just so you know, not that I mean to recommend being a farmer’s market plant vendor because I don’t. It’s not just the endless loading and unloading of heavy flats of plants together with folding tables and other gear, and it’s not the tremendously depressing tiny profit margins or the impossible situation of storing sales stock at home all summer…
No, most of all it was the tent.
You certainly need a tent, which is really just a canopy, in order to sell at an outdoor market, because of both sun and rain. Our canopy was ten feet square and consisted of a one-piece metal folding contraption that sort of unfolded accordion-fashion to become a structure with four metal legs and a canvas roof stretched over the top. But for some reason we could never quite remember how to accomplish the unfolding.
Really the people who make these things have a warped sense of humor or are stupid because the tents don’t unfold like any reasonable exhausted hurried sleep-deprived semi-hysterical gardening woman would expect. So every Saturday morning at seven a.m. there we were at the market site having a ridiculous and embarrassing wrestling match with our canopy. People would come early to the market just to watch, and we became known not simply as the booth with great herbs and flowers, no, we were The Women Who Can’t Set Up The Tent.
We don’t do that anymore.
So anyway I sold all the red-orangey poppy plants and kept a couple of the pink ones, which I love, and I’ve divided these perennials so there are several now.
The poppy image was used often in designs of the past, and you find it being sinuous in the Art Nouveau applications and symmetrical in the Art Deco. There are things I gathered from my antique shop days–I love this old linen pillow, with flowing red poppies both embroidered and painted.
In the past I’ve also grown different annual poppies, like the breadbox poppy (Papaver somniferum) shown below–but not this year.
The rotund seed pods on that one wear hats that remind me of some post-WWII fashions and are darn stylish on their own.
Those tall red breadbox poppies are pretty, with lovely gray green foliage –and every now and then I make an effort to grow them but they don’t self-seed in my clay soil.
I do think they are the opium poppy and maybe that’s why they are part of the setting in this old print by Susan Beatrice Pearse, showing tiny children going to dreamland, maybe pushed toward sleep by bloom proximity, like Dorothy as she approached the poppy fields outside the Emerald City.
This picture hangs on the wall above my bed and makes me sleepy when I look at it.
So this year in the garden I only have the Oriental poppy blooms, so crinkly and delicate. Today’s rain didn’t bother them as much as it bothered the dog, and me.
See Kininvie’s post about his blue poppy plants, just amazing. I’ve tried and failed with blue poppies but I haven’t given up yet because really they can’t be more impossible than that farmer’s market canopy tent and we always succeeded with it somehow.