My list of favourite flowers would definitely include the meconopsis – often known as the blue poppy. For me a large planting of them is simply breath taking. The shades of blue and violet colours in this simple four petal flower are quite magical – changing as you look at it from all sides. As the light streams through its petals throughout the day it reveals yet another colour combination. It has to be an artist’s dream – or nightmare!
So what kind of plant is it? Well, it is a perennial so it dies down completely at the end of the season. I find myself placing a short cane beside it as a marker so I know exactly where it is - this is one of the only plants in my garden I would never move!
Where does it like to grow? It seems they can be a little fussy. I have referred to a book and it suggests they need a lot of pampering. I must be honest here and say I generally don’t take the pampering route with my plants. However the clump of meconopsis planting that first my caught my breath was in a garden, Branklyn Garden in Perth. This planting was clearly successful so that is the route I took. I have planted mine so they get morning sunshine and with shade in the middle of the day. The soil stays damp in this area as at this time of year as there are grasses, ferns, hostas and my small Acer tree. The foliage can get a little shabby at the bottom of the plant but as I have mine growing up through a golden leaved grass it is not really seen. I have three plants, I lost one as I disturbed it when I moved one of my grasses – I must have damaged the crown. They can also be prone to rot if the soil is waterlogged in the winter, but by then my grasses the other plants have died down in this area and that should help. So, it likes a partial shady or woodland setting with a mulch to keep it damp in the growing season and enough light and air in the winter to keep it dry then.
When does it flower? As you will see above, it is in flower now in June through to July. One stem can hold a few flowers but they don’t necessarily all open at the same time. In my small clump they may only have one or two flowers, they start to lose petals and another few flowers come out. I love even how they look before they open – like a beautiful delicate tissue. I am happy with my succession of a small number of striking flowers as I have lots of green foliage around my plants. However, if you have a larger open area you would probably need a much larger clump to give a good show – but I would suggest you don’t plant in an area that will be exposed to the wind.
Where can you buy them? Good nurseries will sell them and some garden centres too. I would say though, I bought mine in a sell-off at the end of a Garden Show a number of years ago so I was able to see mine in flower and chose the colours too. I actually don’t know their names now and they are of a type that doesn’t give seed. You can also buy seeds, I have tried that, but the plants were weaker and the flowers were smaller and not nearly as striking as the ones I bought. On checking my link to Branklyn Garden, mentioned above, I see that they exchange and sell seeds (UK only) so I might try one of their varieties. I also noticed they have seed for the red meconopsis that I have seen in this garden too - now I would like to grow them! What a delight the meconopsis is to look out to from my window. They just beg to be admired - and they certainly are!
To see more photos go to shirls plantphotos
The photos, shown above, were taken in my garden on June 5th 2007.