Posts Tagged ‘poppy’

August seed bargain

August 24th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 2 Comments

California poppies (Eschscholzia) to sow in August

Heading to the garden centre over the Bank Holiday weekend? Well, here’s an idea.

For many gardeners, sowing seeds in August seems a bit odd: don’t you sow seeds in the spring? Yes, of course, but the end of August is a great time to sow California poppies and I’ll be doing just that. And the seeds are in the garden centre.

I live in an old cottage that’s right on the street, there’s no front garden. So I’m going to sow ‘Appleblossom Pink’ California poppies in the crack between the house wall and the pavement. I’m stealing the idea from a similar house nearby where for years orange California poppies made quite a show.

I’m going to sow the pink ones but you can also try mixtures if you refer. One good thing about ‘Appleblossom Pink’ is that it has very pretty silver foliage so it looks good even before it flowers – which should be early next spring, perhaps with a few winter flowers if the season is mild. Also, it’s naturally dwarf so as it leans away from the wall towards the light it’s less likely to fall over.

In the past I’ve sown California poppies in the gravel garden where, as they self sowed from year to year, eventually there was hardly a month when there were no flowers. They’re also good at the edges of gravel drives. The trick is to pull out any plant with flowers in colours you don’t like so that only the ones you really enjoy get to shed their seed for the following year.

So for a little over £2, you can pick up a packet of California poppy seed this weekend and get started with years of colour is any sunny place you have. Why wouldn’t you?

What’s selling at Chelsea?

May 26th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Borage - much in demand at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show

On the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show, let’s look back through the eyes of David Turner, Mr F’s Product Manager, who’s been on the stand at the show all week: talking to visitors, finding out what they’re interested in and selling seeds. Yesterday afternoon I asked him what visitors have been looking for.

Borage has been asked for a lot,” he told me, “it features on a number of the show gardens and that reminds people what a good plant it is – both useful and attractive. But, apart from coriander, there’s been less demand for herbs than usual.

“Any individual varieties with yellow flowers have sold well as they also feature on a number of show gardens – if only we sold yellow lupins! And we’ve sold out of the simple scarlet field poppy, with the centenary of the armistice coming up poppies are on people’s minds.

Peas and beans always sell well, and that has continued this year in spite of the fact that there’s hardly a pea or bean plant to be seen at the show.

“Our new Optigrow range of primed vegetable seeds has done very well after it won the Chelsea Garden Product of The Year award. Parsnip and parsley, seeds that especially benefit from the treatment, are doing especially well.

“And we’ve recently partnered with the RHS in introducing a range of Award of Garden Merit flower seeds and Award of Garden Merit vegetable seeds and this has also proved popular.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that visitors’ enthusiasms are sparked both by what they’ve seen at the Show and what they already have in mind. And after the Show, it’s all available on the Mr F website at mr-fothergills.co.uk.

Poppies for foliage and flowers

April 27th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape'

There was a short time, about thirty years ago, when it looked as if growing ornamental opium poppies was going to be banned as it was thought people would buy seed in garden centres and grow heroin on their allotments! No.

It’s the same basic species but varieties developed for the garden – and to provide seeds for baking – are entirely different from those cultivated in Asia for legal (and illegal) drugs.

So, lest we forget, the increasing range of garden varieties of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, provides some of the most colourful of annuals you can buy.

From soon after they germinate, the plants are making their presence felt with their attractive blue-grey rosettes of glossy foliage. Then, from midsummer, the stiffly vertical stems are topped by large open flowers.

Those impressive flowers come in several forms: four-petaled single flowers, some with impressively frilled edges and some with black or white blotches at the base, and there are also frilly or peony-flowered double flowers.

The colours too range from soft pastel shades (‘Maanzaaad’), rich tones (‘Lauren’s Grape’, above), more vibrant colours (‘Victoria Cross’) and an appealing double flowered mixture (‘Peony Flowered Mix’).

Sow outside where you’d like them to flower, give them the usual hardy annual treatment but I find it often pays to wait until April to sow. Unless you dead head ruthlessly, you’ll have self sown seedlings next ear. And if you grow more than one colour, who knows what colours those self sown seedlings will provide.

Pastel poppies

April 20th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Poppy 'Falling in Love'

There are two main kinds of annual poppies. There are those derived from our native field or corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas, and those derived from the Asian opium poppy, P. somniferum. This week I’m taking a look at field poppies, next week opium poppies.

Papaver rhoeas is the scarlet annual poppy of our cornfields, although these days we only see it when the plough goes a little deeper and long buried dormant seeds come to the surface.

The first named variety was introduced after the Reverend Wilkes of Shirley in Surrey noticed a wild form with a white edge to the petals. From this plant he developed single- and double-flowered varieties in softer colours and without the black blotch at the base. These are still available as ‘Shirley Single Mixed’.

By the 1960s bright reds had crept back in so the Suffolk painter Cedric Morris developed a strain made up of soft misty and smoky shades, picotees and flowers with delicate veining. From these were developed ‘Dawn Chorus’ and ‘Falling in Love’, blends of doubles in softer shades.

There’s also the original wild corn poppy, ideal for annual meadows, and ‘American Legion’, with a white blotch on each petal.

Sow them all now, either by scattering the seed through your borders (some packets contain 2000 seeds, so you’ll have plenty!) or by sowing in patches or rows. You can also sow in the autumn, the flowers will start to open earlier than those of spring sown plants.

You can even cut them for a vase: dip the cut stems in boiling water for 20 seconds then arrange them in tepid water. They’ll last for ages.

Mr Fothergill’s donates £24,000 to Royal Hospital Chelsea from Poppy Victoria Cross sales

August 14th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Dave Carey with RHC Cheque

Retail sales of seed of Mr Fothergill’s Poppy Victoria Cross this spring (January to June 2014) have netted more than £24,000 for the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners, in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War.  The Suffolk seedsman has also announced it will continue to support the organisation for at least another four years – until the centenary of the end of hostilities in 2018.  Mr Fothergill’s pledges 25p to the Royal Hospital’s charity from every packet of 250 seeds priced at £1.85 it sells via its retail stockists during 2014.

Presenting a cheque for £24,462.50 to Chelsea Pensioner William ‘Paddy’ Fox, Mr Fothergill’s Seeds joint-managing director David Carey, said “Sales of Poppy Victoria Cross have been phenomenal this spring, making it our biggest selling variety.  It just shows the huge support there is for our former armed service personnel among Britain’s millions of gardeners.”

Royal Hospital Chelsea fundraising manager Kate Marsh said: “On behalf of the Chelsea Pensioners, I would like to say how delighted we are to receive this incredibly generous donation from the sales of Mr Fothergill’s Poppy Victoria Cross seed.   The funds raised will help us to provide the very best care and service to the Chelsea Pensioners, many of whom are taking part in First World War remembrance services across the country this year.

“Our sincere thanks to Mr Fothergill’s for their support and we hope more people are inspired to grow their beautiful Victoria Cross poppies.”

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was established in 1682 by Charles II to provide a safe home for military veterans ‘broken by age or war’, the Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital admitted its first pensioners in 1692.  The scarlet tunics and black tricornes of its residents and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show held in the Royal Hospital grounds every May are equally well known and respected around the world.