I love poppies. One of my favorite childhood books was “Keep Out”, written and illustrated by W.G. van de Hulst. This story, translated from Dutch, is about Ruth, Sally and Sally’s dog, Tippy. Ignoring the “keep out” sign, the little girls they enter a wheat field to pick red poppies, and in the process trample the valuable wheat. Farmers, police and parents all get involved, but everything works out in end and the little girls become friends.
In my early 20s, I had a summer research job at the Plant Biotechnology Institute at the University of Saskatoon. My job was to maintain the papaver somniferum (opium poppy) cultures and to help elicit and extract secondary metabolites from the cultures, which were then analysed (by others) for pharmaceutical applications. The opium poppies, from which the cultures were derived, were hidden somewhere in the middle of a wheat field in Saskatchewan. As a summer student, I was never permitted to go to this top secret location, but I always (incorrectly) imagined the wheat and poppies looked similar to the fields described in my childhood book.
I now grow lots of different types of poppies in my garden, however none of them are opium poppies. My favorites are the regular red ones. I’ve been warned that they will eventually take over the entire garden, but I haven’t found that is the case, and they spread less than I would like them to. They only bloom for a short while and then need to be removed because the bare seed pods look so straggly. I have been saving the seed pods and hope to grow even more of them in the rock garden next summer.