The weather is foul here in North West England. We have had a lovely mild autumn so far and it seems that we are paying for it now. We are feeling the brunt of ex hurricane Kate… the first storm of the season to hit us and the Met Office have named this storm Abigail. We have had torrential rain and gale force winds for the past two days. In places six to eight inches (15-20 cm ) of rain fell in 24 hours. That’s more than a month of rain… a heck of a lot of extra water. Trees have fallen and there is flooding in some low lying areas.
We were warned that this was a high risk area for flooding when we bought our home. Apparently we are at risk from both the sea rising and local rivers overflowing. We thought that it was a risk worth taking. This house sits on top of a hill and we have lovely views. It’s not the highest hill in the county but it is the highest point around here. We are quite safe and dry for now but we don’t know what the local roads will be like in the morning.
So today we have stayed inside to keep out of the wind and rain. The storm will pass and life will carry on. As it’s too wet to spend time in the garden I’ve been experimenting with photography in my greenhouse this afternoon. Luckily I collected some Poppy seed heads earlier this week so they are dry and suitable for photos.
The Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum is popular and easy to grow. They are fascinating to look at close up. When the seed heads first form they are quite plump and a greenish blue colour as shown above. Head gardeners complain that garden visitors tend to pinch a few poppy seed heads at this stage spoiling the look of the plants in their gardens. That is quite futile because the seeds are not ripe when they are green. Gradually the poppy stems turn a pale straw colour and the seed heads dry and turn quite brown and grey and mottled. Tiny openings appear at the top of the pod just like a little pepper shaker. This is when the seeds are ripe. They are tiny, shiny and black and as the wind whips the old poppy stems around the seeds are scattered. Alternatively you can pick them and store the seeds in a paper envelope until next spring.
The poppy seed heads are decaying now yet they are still quite beautiful when you look closely at them. They have a metallic quality I think with tinges of gold and silver visible through the camera lens. It’s hard to believe that such a small seed can produce tall poppies like this in just a few weeks in spring and summer when conditions are right. And if they are not quite right then poppy seeds will lie dormant in the ground until the earth is disturbed again then they will spring into life.
I grow poppies every year. They are inexpensive and extremely easy to grow. But the best thing about them is that they gently seed themselves around giving a very natural feel to my planting schemes.
Are you planning to grow poppies next year? Do you have a favourite poppy?
I would love to know what you think… so please send a comment.
Thanks for reading and see you next time. Gillian 🙂