The poppies are in full glory which is not, I have to say, particularly to my credit. I found an old envelope in my seed box, marked in faded handwriting from some long ago summer, and scattered them absentmindedly through the border.
I vaguely remember begging some seed pods from a friend, whose garden was brimming with flowers of singular beauty, but so old was the seed that when I distributed it, I had no idea what colours would appear or even if they would appear at all. I had forgotten that the seed can lie dormant for years in a field, only to spring to life when the soil is tilled.
I would, of course, like to say I had meticulously planned the tapestry of beauty which appeared in a sunny corner of the courtyard. But nature is a far greater artist than me and it was she who had threaded the poppy’s deep purple papery silk petals through a veil of luminous violet verbena boniarensis, set against a background of cerise pink sweet peas.
Poppies like a fairly poor soil and full sun, but again I take no credit for their eventual position. They found their way to the edge of a border, haphazardly hemmed in by sandstone rocks, and decided it was their place in the sun. At the time, I was also potting up an agapanthus for the roof terrace and they decided that, too, was a good home. They flowered, in perfect serendipity, with the deep blue of the lily, creating yet another magical combination.
Naturally, I take all the credit when friends exclaim at the loveliness of the sight (“How clever you are!”) and send a silent blessing to Mother Nature, vowing to try to replicate the picture next year. Sadly, I lack her lightness of touch but I can at least collect the seed from the most beautiful poppy, tying a ribbon around its slender neck to remind myself which pods to collect once they are ripe.
In contrast to the silken beauty of the flowers, the pods are almost comical, stout little pepper pots from which you can shake thousands of seeds (for free, no less) but this time they will be stored in an envelope, carefully marked with the colour and date. I sometimes pin a photograph of the flower to the envelope, because although I swear I will be able to remember every detail, I never quite manage to.
Next spring I shall go a-scattering, even though Mother N will no doubt have own plans, which will be infinitely lovelier than mine.
Previously: However blue, I love my agapanthus