PAPAVERACEAE, The Poppy family
These bright crepe-paper blossoms, on impossibly slender stems, are the perfect sign of spring. The popsicle-colored petals hover over mounds of wavy pale green foliage. This tempestuous time of year the weather makes flowers seem so fragile. Some of the most intrepid and earliest flowers barrenwort, columbine, bleeding heart, anemones and corydalis are also the most delicate in form.
Signs of spring in the Northwest start well before the Equinox. Right after the holidays a few flowering trees start blooming and bulbs slowly start to show. By now there are camellias, the early rhoddies like ‘PJM’, forsythia, flowering plums and lots of bulbs in color. While that is interesting and heartening, the subtle gradations of seasonal cycle make it feel less complete somehow. Growing up in the Midwest I expect more austerity from winter, a deeper, darker, whiter downtime. And the rush that accompanies the first flock of robins, who arrive puzzled every year at the snow that remains, is intense. And important â€“ the first kid in our family to see a robin would get a treat, or kudos? I don’t remember. The first crocus snout pushing up, the blades of green grass in the lawn, the swelling of buds that the thaw brings feels like a miracle.
Spring here is less transcendent but more exuberant. The party colors of the shrubs and flower trees, and these poppies, give a carnevale feel. At this point in the long rainy season saturating one’s retinal cones with hues of surreal intensity feels wonderful.
Iceland poppies like cool weather. They will come back a few years in a row in mild climates with good drainage, but they reseed too if you let them. This variety is compact – just 10″ tall.