Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dotty About Poppies

Adrian Higgins, in today's Washington Post writes:

"In northern gardens, poppies are the languid wildlings of summer, the stuff of picnics in the meadow and memorable afternoons. They can be tricked into a great show in the Washington garden, where they explode on the scene in May...They are part of an enormous late-spring bacchanalia that begins with clematis and peonies and embraces catmint, larkspur and the first of the roses and lavender..."

AEEIIIIIIIII! Doesn't that just make me scream and then wilt with desire! Imagine! "A bacchanalia" occurring in my garden!! Heady scents and mingled colors of roses and lavender, larkspur, peonies (hold the catnip), all bound by a tangle of clematis and punctuated with a papery ruffles of poppies!!! OH! That's a lot of exclamation points.

Sadly -- notice those dots after "May"? That sly abridgment of thought? The missing segment is this: " ...[they] linger for two or three weeks collectively and then shrivel in the face of the accumulating heat."

TWO WEEKS?! piffle. And from seed? A day, a minute, a second....the barest bristle of a sprout. I can't even get an already grown poppy, one that arrives from the garden center in a state of robust fecundity (clearly nurtured by a far greener thumb than mine and prepared for that bacchanal), to do more than sulk forlornly and promptly expire.  

There is a yard here on Capitol Hill, over by the Day School, across from the Park, that generally looks less than kempt, yet each spring puts on a magnificent display of poppies. They seem to self-seed-- spraying themselves about, each year more stupefying than the last.   

In the face of that garden it is extremely small sop that Higgens points out how tricky poppies are to grow. But sop it is.

Read him here:

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