High and mighty…but tiny…Papaver rupifragum

Friends have sometimes said of my garden, ” ..you have so many tall things..”and I do, and one or two have said “What about smaller plants?” And I have laughed and said something about compensation for being a short person, but isn’t it funny how some things stick in your mind. So I have been getting to know shorter plants lately, on the grounds that my friends had hit on something. I was ignoring the plant world that lives at less than 1 metre high.

Right now, a very tiny and delicate plant is getting ready for its moment in the limelight. I first saw this plant on Annie’s Annuals about seven years ago, but since then, the same plant, I am pretty sure, is now being called Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Pleno’.  Still, not having got to the bottom of a possible identity crisis, I was relieved to find a good poppy blog by Matt Mattus, a plantsman, that is still talking about Papaver rupifragum or the Spanish Poppy. So, for now, I’ll stick with the name I know.

It is a spirited and delicate thing. It’s a slow grower, I practically needed tweezers to transplant the seedlings to grow it on, and probably because we get a tad too much Spring rain for it, it’s still with me, but in recovery this year from the epically wet Spring we had last year. So, although it is in a hot South facing spot, I reckon it’s got to be hotter and drier still. So, for the UK, thin, bone-dry soil, tops of walls, that kind of thing and SUN.  So, for the first reveal, I give you the plant as of yesterday…

Papaver rupifragum, April 2105

Papaver rupifragum, April 2105

Not much perhaps to look at, though I love the arching shepherd’s crook shape of the flowerhead, so here is how this will look later in the week, when I will miss it as I am in London and Edinburgh for a few days.

Papaver rupifragum April 2012

Papaver rupifragum April 2012

It is the most beautiful and delicate, and not shouty, orange with petals that softly crinkle at the edges.  Tougher than it looks in rain too. I think that what I must do is buy some more seed from Derry Watkins and have a go in a drier spot. There’s a plan. And a great reason to, while I am at it, see what else Derry has got that’s new to me. Usually masses of things and then I have to choose. Delightful torture.

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