Vivid Papaver Somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' (Opium Poppy)

Updated: Apr 23

Stunning blooms as delicate as tissue paper and long-lasting seed pods.

© Sheryl Watson/

In the autumn I sprinkled a couple of seed pods of opium poppies over a former vegetable bed and I am eagerly awaiting the flowers which will appear in a matter of weeks. I have given up on vegetables, I am not a 'sure & steady' gardener. A few days of days of neglect (because I am engrossed in a TV drama or a family members birthday), and the crop is ruined. Flowers I find are more tolerant - or maybe I just pay more attention to them..? So the vegetable beds have been recommissioned for cut flower crops.

One raised bed is now a sea of grey green foliage. They remind me of cabbages. But these aren't for eating they will soon shoot up tall flower stems, with drooping buds which will swell and slowly burst into large exquisite blooms.

Poppies make great cut flowers and the seed pods which follow will last for months. They compliment flowers in the garden and floral arrangements in the home later in the summer. Or, why not wait until September when the pods are a dry brown and sprinkle wherever you would like a miniature poppy meadow next year.

I am not sure what kind of poppies I will have this year as the bees cross-pollinate species resulting in lovely surprises. A few years ago I planted Papaver Somniferum 'Black Peony Double'. Some of the flowers weren't double and actually I preferred those (and so do the pollinators). Last year a lilac double appeared in an empty spot. Maybe my plants were cross-pollinated with a neighbours. The lilac wasn't what I would have chosen, but it was too splendid to pull out. If I recall correctly I selected seed pods of single flowers for my raised bed this year - so we will see what appears.

Although these poppies are annuals you can't complain about a display as great as the one that a few of these plants will put on from late May and into the summer.

For Zeena B's Nursery I have grown Papaver Somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' which is in the foreground of the top image. This seed has come from a reputable seed merchant so should come true. It seems to be quite in vogue at the moment, if Chelsea Flower Show was going ahead this month my money would be on it featuring. (But as Chelsea this year will be in September, probably no opium poppies will be in the show gardens). The seed was sown in the autumn of 2020 and it has been overwintered outside in Surrey so the plants are now large and strong. I am going to plant it with Erysimun 'Red Jep' which is a great evergreen perennial wallflower. Red Jep has lots of small deep red flowers with purple highlights. It is currently doing a really good job of complimenting my tulips :). But its flowers will go on far longer than the tulips. The wallflower is about 45cm so Lauren's Grape with its large deep purple flowers will rise above it.

Both Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' and Erysimun 'Red Jep' are available now from Zeena B's Plants at Simons's Free Range Eggs Farm Shop on Saturdays & Tilgate Park, Crawley on Sundays.

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