The Accidental Poppy Garden

Sometimes, when we design a new garden we may have a very loose idea of where we’re going and try to create that. In the case of the front garden it was to make a garden that could stand up to the dryness in summer and still survive the wet Victoria winter and solve the dead grass problem. This is a story not just about creating the garden but the something unexpected that happened, another serendipitous garden event.

The old front garden was a short length of flower bed, a tangle of day lilies on one side and lavender on the other, and not much else, that stopped abruptly as it reached the part of the yard that is supposedly owned by the municipality. That area was always a problem. It was hard hard dirt with miserable grass on it mixed with weeds that we poured water on every summer. It looked awful, dried out and ugly, the water couldn’t really sink in and the grass didn’t benefit from all this expensive water. So last fall or maybe it was late summer, Eric and Bill dug up huge portions of it so that we could make a xeriscape garden. They almost broke shovels doing it, the dirt was so hard. There was not an earthworm to be found, finding it impossible to get through this cement-like soil.

Hart (the Lone Arranger) and Bill
Hart (the Lone Arranger) and Bill

We had been saving and finding plants to put into this garden, things that were supposed to do well in a xeriscape or low watering garden. Things like day lilies, yucca, grasses, red hot poker, irises, and crocosmia.

When it was all dug up and ready to plant, Hart, our good friend who has a knack with gardening and arranging plants, was called in to supervise. We like to call him the “Lone Arranger”.

Each plant was put in it’s own hole that was first filled with our own compost. We didn’t have enough compost to do up the whole area so we cheated a bit and just put it in where the plants were going.

So it was all done, everything planted. We only had to eventually move some yuccas that had been planted around the pampas grass and were now hidden by it. We sat back, exhausted and enjoyed our handiwork.

Sometime in November or December, Bill went out and sprinkled poppy seeds around the whole area. The seeds were all mixed up, saved from poppies that had grown in the back garden.

This spring not much showed of these, until about the last month or two. Then we saw all sorts of poppy plants coming up. And being haphazard and ok, maybe a bit time-crunched too, the sprouts of these luckily missed being weeded out.

Poppies popping abundantly
Poppies popping abundantly

Imagine our surprise and delight this month, when, in this awful clay dirt we had huge poppies of all sorts. They came up in lipstick colors of red, mauve and fuchsia.

Poppies on the harder, dryer side
Poppies on the harder, dryer side

Double and single flowers popped up (they are poppies after all) amongst all the planned xeriscape we’d worked so hard to create. It was a gorgeous sight! We had expected a few poppies, but nothing like the amount we got. We’d accidentally created a poppy garden.

Poppies of all shapes and sizes
Poppies of all shapes and sizes

Poppies are a short lived phenomenon. They come up, their gracefully drooping flower pods lift up and burst into bloom, petals like silky tissue paper. And too shortly thereafter, it seems, they are done blooming and set themselves to seed in gorgeous seed pods.

Beautiful at all stages
Beautiful at all stages

I swear they are the only flower that looks beautiful in every stage. But you’ve got to be quick and get out there and enjoy enjoy.


11 thoughts on “The Accidental Poppy Garden

  1. Lia Fraser says:

    This is an amazing and wonderful story. I will always look at ornamental poppies differently from now on. Thanks! And, those poppies will self-seed. Next year will look like….?


  2. Helen says:

    Lia, it should look absolutely wonderful. In fact, stay tuned because we have been documenting them and we’ve got an amazing variety of them.

  3. mary-lou says:

    Beautiful, sorry we missed them in their fullness… a reminder that beauty doesn’t fade so much as change, it becomes something else, you just have to open your eyes (and heart) to it.

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