Saturday, October 15, 2005

Standing in a Field of Poppies

Our faithful dry-landscape favorite, the California poppy, makes a wonderful display with such favorites as Russian sage or trailing rosemary. I've seen a couple of variants out there, creamy white or mellow pastels, but nothing too exciting. Well, I've been looking in the wrong place! Our gardening chums across the pond have taken Eschscholzia californica (Papaveraceae), given her ruffles, frills, and thrown open the wardrobe to a stunning array of colors. Wow!

So here I am, reading the new Thompson & Morgan Seed Catalog, and I see this lovely pink, cream, and gold flower on the inside cover, labelled "Eschscholzia 'Summer Sorbet'". A closer look shows "californica" and I realize "oh!". Now I'm completely rethinking my spring/summer 2006 landscaping for the front of our place. This past year, it's been a half wine barrel with ranunculus, linaria, alyssumhumble half-barrel starring various annuals from Home Depot and OSH: linaria and ranunculus in the early spring, snapdragons and viola later, and alyssum always. Now there's some bright yellow and orange calendula there, pumpkin and sun colors to combat the slowly shrinking days. I enjoy a cottage-garden type of look rather than formal landscaping, but I respect the reality of California summers and want to use minimal water. These new fancy Cal poppies may well give me exactly what I'm seeking!

Now, on to the gorgeous flowers themselves! I've linked the pix to the T&M page itself, rather than to a larger image.

These are the fancy of the fancy, lovely gradations of color, complex tones. First the rich pinks of Summer Sorbet,
Summer Sorbet Eschscholzia, a featured 'annual of the year' for 2006. I can see that going wonderfully around a plant stand with a pot of trailing 'the Wave' petunias, and probably thriving just on the watering overflow from the petunias. Can't get beyond the orange? How about dialing up the complexity with the sophisticated Apricot Flambeau? Apricot Flambeau Eschscholzia For really stunning complexity, especially to brighten up staid hedges or the now-boring green leaves of gone-by bulbs, the rich maroons and creams of Champagne & Roses will draw the eye. Champagne and Roses Eschscholzia

For those who love bright, clear, mono-colors, wait, there's something for you too! If you are tired of plain orange (lovely as it is), try the zap of adding deep apricots and flamboyant pinks with Monarch Mixed Eschscholzia Monarch Mixed, or try the yellow razzle of Eschscholzia Thai Silk Lemon Bush Thai Silk Lemon Bush.

Here we're cheating, because while this is a Papaver, it's an orientale-- T&M's new 'Fruit Punch', full of pink, rose, plum, and magenta shades. Papaver orientale 'Fruit Punch'

How I adore seed catalog time! Now on to page three. Gracious, it's going to be a long (and splendid) day.


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