Passion for Poppies

Speaker: Sandy Worth
Date: 31st October
Year: 2018

Sandy setting up

The Oriental poppy’s increasing popularity can be laid partly at the door of Sandy Worth, of Water Meadow Nursery, in Cheriton, Hampshire, who holds the National Collection.

Cultivars such as ‘Patty’s Plum’ and ‘Lauren’s Lilac’, which have bloomy-purple flowers, were developed by Sandy among others equally as desirable to poppy lovers.

However Sandy started her talk with some information about a disease which has killed off many of the European Poppy Fields; namely Pseudo Mildew which is believed to be genetically linked as a survey in the UK has found that it is mainly the same varieties that have been hit.

Her talk mainly concentrated on Papaver Super or the Super Poppy.

The Super Poppy series is the result of 30 years of breeding work in California, creating a whole new race of outstanding introductions. Plants have thick and sturdy petals that hold up better to weather and last much longer in flower. They also have a tendency to repeat bloom, particularly in cool summer regions.

Their habit is sturdy and vigorous. This tall strong-stemmed selection has double petals of deep blood red surrounding a black centre. Foliage may become dormant in the heat of midsummer, simply remove any browned leaves and new ones will appear in autumn or the following year.

Sandy then showed us a series of beautiful images of Super Poppies with an interesting commentary and growing hints. Noting in particular the variation of their stigmatic discs, each variety has a distinctive pattern and shape. Super Poppy Vesuvius is one of the larger ones but difficult to propagate.

Sandy then went into methods of propagation, seed dispersal from the seed capsule and root cuttings taken after 12/24 hours watering and defoliation as all the water is needed in the roots. Then the cutting is pushed into a mixture of sharp sand and peat as the growing medium. Arrange the growing tip just below the surface and then add vermiculite and make sure to label!

Super Poppy – Heartbeat

Plant support using wire hoops was described and plant maintenance to encourage repeat flowering by cutting off the flower stems straight after flowering when the petals drop. Cut the stems down to three inches above the soil, feed the plant with Vitex Q4 in the fine powder form, then fork it in and water, after one month add horse manure.

To get rid of troublesome slugs feed them protein packed food i.e. cat food with the slug killer.

Sandy finished her talk with a look to the future and possible new plants and colours, Tinkerbell and Fair Rosalind were mentioned, as was the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG).

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