Archive for the ‘Annuals’ Category

Spring 2013? What a difference a year makes.

Posted by Mark Wessel on March 21st, 2013  •  Comments Off on Spring 2013? What a difference a year makes.

March 23 2012

Could we just have a normal spring? Comparing March 2012 to March 2013 could hardly be more different.

March 20 2013

This year it seems that winter will never end. Cold and wet with below normal temperature. Last year we seemed to skip spring and went straight into summer.

Summer Snowflakes March 19 2012

By this time in the month of March last year we already had 2 days in the 50°s, 7 days in the 60°s, 5 days in the 70°s and we were in the middle of a 4 day stretch in the 80°s.

March 2013 Snow instead of Summer Snowflakes

This year in March we have had 4 days in the 50°s, 2 day in the 60°s. No 70°s or 80°s.

March 2013 we have dad 14 days in the 40°s or lower.

Magnolia denudata March 19 2012

March 2012 only 3 days in the 40°s and 1 day in the 30°s.

Magnolia denudata March 20 2013

Needless to say, its cold and it sucks this march. Winter seems endless. The landscapes are still brown and nearly lifeless. Most of the plants that are active and blooming are welcome introductions from other countries. The native flora is hardly stirring. The soil is too wet and cold for most vegetable gardening. Many gardening task are on hold till the weather and soil warms.

Hellebore March 20 2013

Last year, march was too darn hot. We had no easing into the warmth. Everything was blooming at once and the landscape was green. We actually missed a season of gardening chores. The woodlands were verdant and blooming.

Trillium grandiflorum March 22 2012

Will we ever have a normal year? A year where the temperatures gradually increase as spring and summer approach. Maybe and inch of rain per week during the summer months.

Snowdrops and Tommy Crocus

Next year lets just have the average between the two years.

Posted in : Annuals, Uncategorized  • 

The Opium Poppy: A true garden Beauty.

Posted by Mark Wessel on July 5th, 2012  •  Comments Off on The Opium Poppy: A true garden Beauty.

Papaver somniferum

The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has brought immeasurable relief from pain to countless people throughout the ages.  It has also undoubtedly caused untold suffering by people addicted to its alkaloids.  My harmless interest lies in the beauty of the flowers.

Elegant underside

Withdraw from blooming opium poppies in the garden is a much easier process than withdraw from other forms of opiates. It’s a natural process. They sprout, bloom and then fade away. No headaches, chills, sweats, cramping, hallucinations and all those other horrible symptoms caused by opiate withdrawal. You don’t have to snort, inject or smoke them. Just sow the seed and enjoy. By the time they have finished their lifecycle, you are left with a pleasant feeling and are ready to move on. Often surrounding perennials fill in the gaps left behind by the dying plants. The gaps can also be filled with tender perennials or any other plant you have waiting in the wings.

From above

The opium poppy is considered a hardy annual. Loosely this means the plant can tolerate a certain amount of cold temperatures. The seed of hardy annuals survives winter in the soil, often germinating in late winter or early spring. In this seedling stage the plants are quite tolerant of freezing temperatures.

Seed heads

Propagation is quite easy. Once the seed heads have matured and the plant is nearly dead, break the heads off and spread the seeds. You will not see any plants until early the following spring. This is the method I used when I was given a ripe seed head by one of my neighbors. One spring I saw these unusual plants in our flowerbeds and couldn’t identify them. It wasn’t until I saw the old seed head that I remembered sowing the seed the previous year. You can also save the seed and sow them in the garden in early spring. Snow seeding is another method of propagation. Sow the seed on top of one of the last snowfalls. As the snow melts, the seed nestles into the ground.


If there is a certain strain of opium poppy you want to preserve, it is important to isolate those plants from other varieties. They cross freely. In fact I have lost one of my favorites to cross-pollination. Lauren’s Grape is a beautiful deep purple. A few washed out lavender poppies, which still bloom in the garden, are the only evidence of the once beautiful purple poppy.

Prom Puff

There are several sub-types of Opium poppies. Paeoniflorum is one of the sub-types that I grow. The variety Prom Puff is a big puffy pink. Interesting variety, but I still prefer the singles.

There are many varieties now available in seed catalogs. Add this to the ease of cultivation and everyone should be growing these garden beauties.

Posted in : Annuals  •