a french garden

The poppies are finishing

20 Comments

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.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

20 thoughts on “The poppies are finishing

  1. I love poppies, but we don’t any at the moment. We’ll have some later, I thinh.

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  2. Hello Amelia,
    Lots of lovely photos of the poppies and the bees – really summery. We managed to grow blue Meconopsis here for a number of years, but they really don’t seem to survive long term without cosseting and slug protection here, and don’t self seed – you had to nurture then plant out, and they didn’t cope well with competition, so sadly we no longer have any. Also interestingly bees didn’t seem to visit them, so I used to hand pollinate – I wondered what pollinated them in the Himalayas?
    Welsh poppies -M. cambrica do really well here not surprisingly, but are never too invasive popping up in different place each year. Also bumbles, honey and solitary bees all like these.
    This year I bought some P. somniferum seed from ebay which were supposedly strains from Afghanistan – not for medicinal use I hasten to add – but for the bees – they’ve germinated well, but I was a bit late sowing so no flowers or photos yet…
    Best wishes
    Julian

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    • I’ve seen the blue Meconopsis in the castle gardens in Scotland. They are beautiful but I do not think they would appreciate our weather. I hope you get flowers with the P.somniferum because the bees really go for them and early morning you can amuse yourself by counting how many bees you can see in the one flower at the one time. They are taller plants than the red poppies but I do not think they throw out as many flowerheads per plant and they pass over more quickly. The red poppies keep on flowering until they get quite untidy and fall over neighboring plants. Amelia

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      • Thanks Amelia – I’m sure you’r right re the blue Meconopsis in France – they just like too much rain/humidity to thrive with you – actually they would have struggled here this year if we still had them I think. I shall look forward to the somniferum and make sure to count the bees in them! Currently they seem to be enjoying the clover and Allium christophii globes.
        I’ve just been filming the most amazing time concentrated return of drones to my non intervention hive – evidently since it’s non intervention and no foundation I’d expect much bigger numbers of drones anyway, but an extraordinary sight to witness and hear… can’t seem to find anything similar on You Tube. It must be a very different “social” mix when they’re all back in the hive to a normal set up, and much less spare honey with all those unproductive mouths to feed…
        best wishes
        Julian

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  3. They are lovely, and add splashes of colour everywhere. 😃 I have Californian poppies, and in the old garden the big orangey red oriental ones which the bees adore. I grew them from seed in containers one spring and planted them out in autumn to flower the following year. I had to weed out some as they spread so well! I tried an Iceland poppy last year but it didn‘t thrive and has disappeared. Maybe too dry? I intend to grow more Californian poppies next year.

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    • I have a couple of oriental ones too, a red one and a peach one. these are perennial so at least you can be more sure where they are going to appear. I find it difficult finding a good spot to sow poppies in the autumn. I never feel I have enough spots in the sun that will not get over run with weeds in the meantime. Amelia

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  4. Wonderful photos! I love poppies.

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  5. It is amusing to see how popular our state flower is so far away.

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    • California poppies are very popular flowers in the U.K. and France and I suppose all over Europe. There cannot be many flowers that could bring such cheer and colour to gardens. Amelia

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      • They are popular here because they grow wild. (Although, they are displaced by exotic species in most of the wild nowadays.) If their seed is sown at all, it is likely seed for one of those weird modern varieties that bloom with unnatural colors or frilly flowers. Those look so silly to me. The wild species is too perfect to attempt improvement. When I was a kid, finding a white or purple poppy was about as rare as finding a four leaf clover.

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  6. I have vivid memories of when I was at school being introduced to red poppies in France by the French Assistante through Monet’s painting, Les Coquelicots. Later I saw the original in the Musee d’Orsay.

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  7. Lovely poppies. They don’t grow well for me, perhaps too much moisture. Every June there is a hillside planting of annual Iceland poppies that is just beautiful. Missed it this year.

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    • I think it is wise to listen to the plants and grow the ones that are happy in your own garden. There are usually plenty that are happy with your own special climate and soil of the garden. I do not have the patience to amend the soil and try and grow plants that really should be growing elsewhere. Perhaps I can see next year whether Iceland poppies like my garden. Amelia

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  8. Your poppies are lovely! I hadn’t seen the white rimmed ones before. I enjoy poppies, too, and have different varieties. One in particular is my favorite – it is bright pink and looks like a double flower – but this year it has only come up in one single flower! I’ll definitely be saving those seeds!

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