Lilac Girl

'Lilac Girl' oriental poppy


"With flowers many hued & starry-eyed.
Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies & bees fare far to rove
Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flower."

-Amy Lowell
(1874-1925)

   

'Lilac Girl' is a sport 'Patty's Plum,' but holds its color better in full sun than either 'Patty's Plum' or 'Mrs. Marrow's Plum.'

Whoever named it 'Lilac Girl' certainly didn't know the color lilac, as this is much closer plum or pink or dusty purple-rose, sometimes described as greyish red, having a small boss & black stamins.

'Lilac Girl's' large crumpled-tissue flowers of May & June rise up on sturdy stems. Although they are usually regarded as for full sun, oriental poppies generally do very well in a bit of shade, & the more delicately colored varieties can last a little longer if somewhat protected.

There is no escaping the ephemeral quality of poppies, however, as they fall to pieces if attempted for bouquets, & depending on weather may not last more than a week per bloom in the garden, though a clump will bloom serially for six weeks give or take.

The hairy foliage clump is compact & evergreen through winter, but homely & dormant in late summer, which needs to be taken into consideration when deciding their location. It is ideal to plant oriental poppies among die-back perennials so their foliage is hidden while dormant, but quite visible when the clumps are fresh in autumn & winter.

By fully deadheading & lightly shearing the clump after it is done flowering, you not only do away with fading foliage, but this will frequently induce a second though milder bloom in September. If it is allowed to expend energy after the first flowering creating seed pods, it will not rebloom that year.

However, the seedpods are themselves sufficiently ornamental that many gardeners prefer to have them, whether left in the garden where they display right up to winter, or to collect seeds, or to take them in their prime to dry the seedpods for flower arrangement.

   



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