The Poppy Story

When I first moved to my current home, a man lived next door who was an old gardener. I use the term old to not only refer to his elderly status but more importantly, his vast knowledge of the earth, its soil and how to grow food.  He was one of those old souls magically connected to the earth upon which he tread. He knew vegetables and taught me how to garden. Our near daily conversations were filled with talk of plants, seeding, soil and experimentation.

Under his influence, I learned to start seeds indoors under grow lights. He also encouraged me to try perennials. Flowers could be expensive, wouldn’t it be wonderful to start them from a $3 pack of seeds. He loved Poppies. So did I.  I added seeding Poppies to my spring seedling plan.

They grew successfully. I gave half of my Poppy seedlings to him. We each planted them in our yards, understanding that they would not bloom until the following year. The seedlings were planted and forgotten. The following year we watched for them and nothing appeared. We tried a second time, again planting seedlings, again waiting the following year for blooms, again nothing. What they heck? I was having so much success at every other plant. What was going wrong with the Poppies?

The third time we tried. Nothing came. We gave up. And one spring day we were out in the yard talking. As we spoke, he reached down and pulled an ugly weed out of my lawn.

“There’s one of those dam weeds”, he replied. “I find them all over my yard”.

I agreed as I had them as well.

“If they get too tall they have a dam ugly bulb on the top of the stem.”

This made me curious. It was true, I have pulled ugly green bulbed stems out by the roots myself.

Toying with one in my hands as we talked on about our gardens, I peeled one of those ugly green bulbs apart. Surprisingly, it was a gorgeous, bright red inside. Embarrassingly, it was the very same color as the Poppies that never made an appearance in either of our gardens.

The two of us stood silently staring at the opened ugly pod, now revealing a gorgeous Poppy bloom.

“Dam”, he said, ” I guess they have such ugly leaves, I thought they were weeds”

“Me,too.” I said.

The lesson I learned, hilariously I might add, is that you may be expecting a wonderful bloom, but learn all of its body parts. Plants grow in stages, make sure you know what they look like before you pull them as weeds.

Here is a pictorial of Poppies.

Poppy Leaves

Poppy Leaves and their green pods.

Poppy Blooms

If not mistaken as a weed, the green pods will begin to open.

Poppies beginning to blossom

Poppy blooms starting to reveal themselves.

Poppies first bloom

The First gorgeous bloom, so dramatic coming from that green pod.

Poppy Bed

Soon you have a colorful bed of Poppies.

Poppy Flowers

So pretty and strong in the flower garden. Perennials are so worth the work of growing them by seed.

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