Summer is poppy time, and our garden includes lots of annual poppies. I like the informality they create by sprouting in all sorts of unexpected places. Just like forget-me-nots in the spring, poppies in summer create a bit of chaos. They soften all edges and bloom generously - too generously all the neat gardeners will say! But they are easy to remove and are difficult to control as the annual poppy is a plant that does not take to regimentation.
|Common red poppies|
The Flanders Fields poppies (Papaver rhoeas) is basically bright red, but it has been hybridized over the years and comes in different shapes and colours. I am thinking of the Shirley poppies which vary a lot in shape and colour. Shirley poppies are the ones I would recommend, if you want more control. In my experience, they have to be reseeded every year, which means they do not get as easily out of hand. Their unimproved red cousins, which self-seed readily from year to year, don't need to be reseeded (and can get out of hand).
This is also the season for Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, which can also be different colours. In the bloodstream of my opium poppies, there is a kind of dark strain that comes up on its own. It will sometime produce a kind of washy, dusty red but, at its best, it turns out a beautiful purple.
|Purple somniferum poppy|
The opium poppies here a more often double than single (I let more double go to seed). These doubles are usually pink, but some years I get red ones. The most common of the somniferum, in this garden, produces a pale lavender single flower with dark markings in the centre. For us, somniferums do self-seed, but not as profusely as rhoeas, hence they are less chaotic. They are easy to differentiate even before they bloom, as the rhoeas has hairy, green foliage and the foliage of the taller somniferum is glaucus.