a french garden


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The poppies are finishing

The poppies self-seed all over the garden, front and back, even in the cracks of the path.

The Californian poppies, Eschscholzia californica, look very gaudy in our garden and I do not find that they attract as many bees as the red wild poppies.

When the bees do go onto the Californian poppies, the pollen that they gather is a beautiful deep yellow/orange.

The favourite poppy for all the bees is the showy oriental poppy, a variety of Papaver somniferum but I find these pass over only too quickly, much to our regret and that of the bees, I suppose.

The common red poppies are called ” coquelicot in French and their botanic name is Papaver rhoeas.  Not all the red poppies are completely red, the photograph above shows a light white touch on the outer edge of the petals.

Some have vivid red markings in their centre and some have black pollen which can easily be seen in the cells of the honey bee hives at this time of year.

Some have frilly edges.

But all the poppies are loved by the bees for the pollen whether they are the wild bees like this Amegilla or honey bees from kept hives.

The slight differences in colourations like the different outer petals of this poppy…

the white border on this poppy were noticed by the Reverend William Wilks.  He also noticed coloured variants and from 1880 he tried by selection to produce colourful varients of the wild poppy.  These are called Shirley poppies because he was the vicar of Shirley in England.

There are also Iceland poppies, Papaver nudicaule, which are also coloured and can be bought as seed.  I have never tried any of these.

I think I will try and buy some Shirley poppy seed for next year to see what colours will come up.  I would be interested in anyone’s experiences with their poppy growing.