I let a lot of annual poppies self-seed, mostly in the vegetable section of the garden. At first glace, you would think that there are only lots of identical pinkish opium poppies (Papaver sommiferum) and red corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas). But when you have a closer look, you realize that hardly any two flowers are alike.
The corn poppies are mostly red, but the colour intensity varies a lot from one flower to the next, and the markings inside the petals also vary a good deal, going from no marking at all to dark splotches.
Here are some examples:
This is the typical rhoas in the garden.
The flowers vary a lot from year to year. There is a great mixing of genes. These poppies all hybridize freely to produce results that are sometimes unexpected.
For instance, we used to have a lot of double red ones, but no more. They might reappear though.
This year I only have one or two Shirley poppies from seeds produced by the plants I had last year (like the pink and white above and the orange double below). I seeded new ones (because with new seeds there is a greater variety of colours than you can obtain from self-seeding). However no Shirley poppies came up.
Last year we had a lot of these 'dirty' purple ones, but there is only one clump this year. Not only is the colour different, but they seem to stay wrinkled!I waited for these petals to spread out as the petals of other poppies do, but these never did. The wrinkled look gives them a certain charm.
Except that the pink are sometimes half way to lavender
and the double are sometimes just about single.
They can even be of an entirely a different colour. If you like markings, check out this gorgeous somniferum, which is half black. It is the first time we get this particular striking combination of colours. When we get a poppy that stands out like this one, we make sure to collect seeds and sow them in different places to encourage the strain.
The following is a new addition, the result of seeds I bought last winter. It is lovely, but the seeds produced very few blooms, and so I don't think they will have much effect on the gene pool! With poppies, seeds you buy never germinate as well as seeds that ripen and self-seed in the garden.
Some gardeners find these annual poppies too weedy. They are weedy by easily removed. To me they are one of the great pleasures of summer.