H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Papaver Orientale - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Papaver Orientale Described.
Papaver Orientale - Oriental Poppy; Nat. Ord. Papaveraceæ.
The Oriental Poppy is a bold and showy plant, very hardy and perennial. There are several colours, but the bright scarlet variety is the most effective. Specimens of it which have become well established have a brilliant appearance during June; they are 3ft. high and attract the eye from a distance. Among other large herbaceous plants, as lupines, pæonies, thalictrums, &c., or even mixed with dwarf shrubs, they are grandly effective; indeed, almost too much so, as by the size and deep colour of the flowers they dazzle the eye and throw into the shade the surrounding flowers of greater beauty. The kinds with brick-red and other shades are comparatively useless. Their flowers are not only smaller, but wind or a few drops of rain spot the petals. A night's dew has the same effect; the stems, too, are weak and bending, which makes them much wanting in boldness, and when the flowers are damaged and the stems down there is little left about the Oriental Poppies that is ornamental.
The flowers are 6in. to 8in. across when expanded, produced singly on stout round stems covered with stiff hairs flattened down, and also distantly furnished with small pinnate leaves. Only in some varieties is the leafy bract to be found. This variety is sometimes called P. bracteatum. The calyx is three-parted and very rough; the six petals (see engraving) are large, having well defined dark spots, about the size of a penny piece. The leaves are a foot or more in length, stiff but bending; they are thickly furnished with short hairs, pinnate and serrated.
This large poppy can be grown to an enormous size, and otherwise vastly improved by generous treatment; in a newly trenched and well manured plot a specimen has grown 3ft. high, and produced flowers 9in. across, the colour being fine; it will, however, do well in less favoured quarters—in fact, it may be used to fill up any odd vacancies in the shrubbery or borders. It is readily increased by division of the roots, and this may be done any time from autumn to February; it also ripens seed freely.
Flowering period, May to June.
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