Every year, there’s one packet of seed I always spread. More important than tomatoes or basil, my two favorite vegetables, I never forget to sow a pack of poppies. I use the Parade of Poppies mix liberally in a couple of different areas…one is a long fifty foot long, six-foot wide wildflower area along the road that’s minimally watered. I love the bachelor buttons and asters and columbines in the wildflower area…but I always want more poppies so I sweeten the poppy mix each year by overseeding sometime between Winter Solstice and St. Patrick’s Day, preferably the night before a big snow so the snow can hide the seeds from birds and mice and the melting snow will hydrate the seeds and cause them to sprout.
I sprinkle some of the poppy seeds in the perennial bed where the daffodils and lilacs grow mostly untended. The poppies bring bits of apricot and red and pink color that make the beds sparkle.
My favorite poppies are the Icelandic, alpine and Shirley poppies for their color and elegance and especially for how some of them will follow the sun through the course of the day, just like sunflowers do.
The California and Mexican poppies are the hard workers of the summer garden, putting out oranges and yellows even in the rocks along the hot sidewalk in August. I’ve let them spread themselves in the xeric garden on the edges of the purple Russian sage where they always make me smile.
Try some poppies in your garden this year. Later, after seedheads form, you can collect the seeds from your favorite colors and spread them in hidden spots in your yard so they’ll surprise you next year.