Alex, Events, How To, News

poppy

We’ve collected 6 little-known facts about the Remembrance Day poppy that you may find interesting:

1. The Royal Canadian mint issued a coin emblazoned with a red poppy in 2004 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War. This was the first coloured coin to be released into circulation in the world. Strangely, once-classified U.S government documents reveal that in 2007 US army contractors were so shocked by the coloured quarters released by Canada that they suspected that they were being used for “espionage purposes”. They stated that they looked odd and were filled with “something man-made that looked like nano-technology”.

Canadian remembrance coin

2. The original British Legion poppies were designed so that veterans from the war could make them even if they had lost the use of one hand.

3. Poppies flourished on the battle grounds of the First World War I in France and Belgium as rubble from the fighting released lime into the ground causing the little red flowers to pop up around the gravesites of fallen soldiers.

4. “In Flanders Fields”, the poem from which the tradition originated, was almost thrown away. Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was conducting the funeral of a fellow officer and looked around to see nothing but death, suffering and crosses marking the resting sites of his friends engulfed in a sea of poppies. He took some time and wrote the words of the famous poem but was unhappy with it and threw it away. A fellow officer picked it up a decided to send it to a handful of newspapers in Britain and later that year Punch decided to publish it.

Flanders Field Poem

5. Poppies are an international symbol of remembrance and are distributed in 53 commonwealth countries around the world including the UK, Canada and Australia as well as in non-commonwealth countries such as France, Belgium and The Netherlands.

6. In New Zealand, they wear poppies in April. This came about when the shipment of Poppies sent over for the first Armistice Day in November 1921 arrived late and so the soldiers decided to wait until ANZAC day (April 25th) the following year.

Alex

Alex works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

Di, Flowers, Gardening, Guest Posts

I love to have fresh flowers in the house, and one of the joys at this time of year is to cut them from the garden. It certainly saves money, and they are fresher and last much longer than the bunches you can buy at the supermarket! It also means I can still enjoy my flowers close up in the house, and not watch them suffer from wind and rain!

I’m not a “flower arranger”, but I like to experiment with different flower combinations, and containers.

All the flowers shown here have been recently picked from my garden.

Rose Royal Matrimony and White Sweet Peas

The wine glass on my mantelpiece holds a lovely creamy rose, called “Royal Matrimony”, with white perennial sweet peas, and a sprig of gypsophila. These are all grown in my front garden.

Flower arrangement from kitchen garden

In the kitchen I’ve used a glass carafe and filled it with a variety of herbs, a few annual sweet peas and an opium poppy. These all grow in the tiny “kitchen garden” outside my back door. It’s wonderfully scented with the combination of lavender, sage, oregano, chocolate mint, rosemary and fennel, and of course the fragrant sweet peas.

Mont Blanc Lily, Silver Wedding Rose, Alchemilla and Astilbes

In the living room I’ve used a simple glass vase and a whole array of flowers for my coffee table. The lily is called “Mont Blanc”, the large white rose is “Silver Wedding”, and the small creamy coloured roses have no name because I lost the plant label! I’ve mixed in lots of “frothy” flowers such as the lemon coloured Alchemilla mollis, and white Astilbes, then added blue flowers as an accent colour. The blues include spires of Veronica, sprigs of Lavender multifida, Brodiaea, and the pom-pom flowers of the small blue allium caeruleum. Oh, and I included a couple of poppy seed heads for good measure!

Dorothy Perkins rose, astibles and gypsophila flowers in a jug

Into the dining room next and a big jug of flowers on the dresser. The darker pink rose is the rambler “Dorothy Perkins” that grows in my front garden, and the paler dog rose is another of my many “lost label” plants. It’s a shame I can’t remember its name, but it has a beautiful scent, almost like sherbet lemons, and very thorny stems! More poppy heads, astilbes and gypsophila…

Hydrangeas arranged in a teapot

Back to the kitchen, and an old teapot makes the ideal container for a few hydrangea heads. Always be sure to plunge hydrangeas into a sink full of cold water head-first before you display them — you’ll be surprised how many creepy crawlies come out of them!

Rosa Bonica and Marjorie Fair with Fuchsia and Honeysuckle bouquet

Then a jug of flowers for my desk: Rosa Bonica and Rosa Marjorie Fair from the back garden, with a stem of fuchsia (that broke off in the wind) and a few sprigs of honeysuckle for fragrance. Mmmm…better than an artificial air freshener any day!

Rose Scarlet Cluster, Agapanthus, Echinops, Hydrangea flower arrangement

Finally, I couldn’t resist picking this selection of red rose, “Scarlet Cluster”, blue Agapanthus, Echinops and hydrangeas. I added a few stems of eucalyptus from the tree in the front garden and yet more poppy seed heads.

Lovely flowers from the garden

Seeing the individual flowers close up makes me appreciate their intricacy, detail and beauty — things I often miss if I’m just looking at them in the garden.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my flowers. Have a look round your garden and see what you can pick. You’ll be surprised just how easy it is to fill a vase or two!

Happy Gardening!
Di x

Flowers, Gardening, Guest Posts, Lisa

Poppies from the Malvern Spring Show

Student's Garden at Malvern Spring ShowIn May I went to the Malvern Spring Show along with my lovely husband and his parents. There was so much to see at the show, I’m not sure I managed to get round to everything. The show gardens were lovely and they gave you a real sense of what can be created with a great deal of knowledge and in some cases thousands of pounds worth of olive trees! I have to say though that of all the gardens, my favourites were the ones created by schools. Local schools had got pupils together to have a go at making their own creations and they were stunning. The main show gardens were clever and classic but the children’s ones outshone them with their sheer inventiveness. They used popular children’s books to help them plan what should go in the garden. They were really beautiful and a real credit to the pupils and the teachers involved (in case you’re wondering, no, my children don’t go to any of the schools).
Painted Tyres in Malvern Student Garden

A lot of the stalls at the show had similar plants to each other – there must be some flower fashion show somewhere that sets the trends for the season! I bought a few things while I was there, some very pretty alpines including a few beautiful blue gentians. I’m going to plant them all together so I can make sure the drainage is right for all of them. I also bought some blackcurrants and a redcurrant, so I’ve popped them in the front garden, always hoping for more fruit. I’m just not sure you can have too much! I also bought a few grasses to help soften an area at the bottom of the garden that I’m intending to sort out soon.

I found a lovely ladybird poppy whose flower is bright red with black spots. I love poppies; I find their tenacity really encouraging, it makes me feel like no matter how many plants I manage to kill there’s always hope for me with poppies. I just bought one of the ladybird poppies thinking that I could harvest the seed myself. It had 2 plump heads on it, getting ready to open out. At home I planted it in the front garden right where the children would see it every morning on their way out but the next morning I came out to find the birds had eaten both heads straight off!
Lisa's Poppy Plant
I was gutted. The birds are having a go at everything at the moment – some fennel plants that were just poking through the earth have been taken completely out! I think I’m turning into Father Jack (from Father Ted) muttering about the birds and being forever persecuted by them.
Poor ravaged poppy.
Lisa's Ladybird Poppies
I’m quite pleased the birds made a snack of it as the plant responded by producing lots more flowers and they’re all opening out beautifully. The children love this plant and keep counting the spots on each flower to see how old they are!

All in all though it was a lovely show at Malvern particularly as it didn’t rain a drop and we actually saw sunshine. For some of the day I was just in a T-shirt! It’s spurred me on and I’m looking forward to putting a few plans I have for the garden into practice, such as planting a bathful of strawberries, getting a greenhouse to replace my very small very ‘make do’ plastic zip-up one.

Blue PoppiesI’ve also planted out a blue poppy this year. I’ve had it in a pot for the past 2 years and it stayed alive but wouldn’t flower at all. So I decided to take a risk and planted it in the front garden. It’s now producing lots of lovely blue poppies and I’m over the moon.
Beautiful blue poppy heads
In January I was out for a walk with a friend and found a load of poppy seed heads so I took one to sprinkle around the place and they’re all starting to come out now. I’m looking forward to finding out what they look like. With all these different poppies I’m going to have to be organised about harvesting the seeds but then again, maybe I’ll just throw them all over the place and be happily surprised when they come up next year.

Lisa