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A field of vibrancy; And a great splash of colour for the garden.

During the First World War, the battlefields across Europe created ideal conditions for the poppy to flourish.

It was a sight that, in 1915, inspired Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the well-known war poem In Flanders Fields. And so this vivid red flower has become synonymous with the great loss of life and sacrifices of war.

This year, to mark the centenary of the start of the 1914-18 war, poppy displays will abound nationwide.

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is creating a poppy field to be in full bloom in late July.

And you can create your own tribute to those that gave their lives in the First World War by planting poppies in your own garden.

By far the most showy and most familiar poppy is Papaver orientale, which adds dramatic highlights to early summer. The typical oriental poppy is a hardy perennial, which produces scarlet flowers with a black blotch at the bottom of each petal, but you can get other colours, including pink, orange, white and plum.

Stunning varieties include Mrs Perry, with large salmon-pink blooms, and Patty's Plum, which is dark and dramatic.

Most named oriental poppies are sterile and can be propagated by root cuttings, while species poppies rely on seed to keep them going.

Papaver somniferum, which is enjoyed for its ornamental value, is a prolific self-seeder, but save some seed to sow where you want them.

Most poppies prefer sun and moist soil.

So, while the field poppy will always remain one of the most powerful and poignant images of remembrance, its wider family, in all its glorious colours and forms, has earned itself a well-deserved place in the British garden.


IDEAL... Oriental poppy is iconic
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 17, 2014
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