Plant Focus: Meconopsis (Blue Poppies)

On a recent visit to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden (The Explorers Garden) in Pitlochry I was lucky enough to see their famed Meconopsis collection pretty much in full bloom. This post was a few weeks in the making as I had a few more photos to add.

Although also know as Blue Poppies, they actually come in many colours. Generally Meconopsis like cool, fairly moist, sheltered conditions and as such I’ve never had much success in my sandy, slightly windy garden. Some are monocarpic – that is they flower once and die, others will form perennial clumps. I should also note that the trusty Welsh Poppy (M. cambrica) also belongs to this group and is an easier one to grow.

Unfortunately I didn’t see too many labels, which, in a genus plagued by naming difficulties was a little disappointing. This could be because they were hidden or because I missed some. I thought I might be able to name some of them post photograph but there’s nay chance!

So you will pretty much have to mostly enjoy photographs of them which is fine because they are so beautiful!

Meconopsis napaulensis - yellow/cream version
Meconopsis napaulensis – yellow/cream version
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Meconopsis napaulensis – pink version
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Meconopsis ‘George Sheriff Group’ Crewdson Hybrids
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Dark blue against the stone wall
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I think this one was Meconopsis ‘Dalemain’ if my notes serve me correct!
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Meconopsis ‘Inverewe’
Meconopsis x sheldonii
Meconopsis x sheldonii
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Meconopsis baileyi ‘Alba’ (aka M. betonicifolia ‘Alba’)
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Such a beautiful range of shades on this Himalayan poppy. This is probably my favourite photograph.
M. grandis (2)
Meconopsis grandis – check out all those anthers!
Meconopsis Huntsfield 1
Meconopsis Huntsfield 1
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Gentle nodding head of a Himalayan Blue Poppy

It’s also worth looking at other parts on the plant in detail. Some have furry stems, others smooth.

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Furry stemmed. It’s amazing how many colours there are.
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Smooth-stemmed ‘Alba’ form

 

Plus how cute are these seed pods with their little waistline belts and furry jackets?

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Meconopsis seed pods

There were a couple which hadn’t yet flowered which is always interesting to know if you’d like to extend the season.

And some which are over such as Meconopsis quintuplinervia – how many times do you think I had to check that I had spelt this right?

As usual I like to give some ideas of what to plant them with.

Here’s some planting ideas mostly from the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden:

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They look fantastic under trees.
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I couldn’t get enough of these blue and white forms against the mossy stone wall.
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These Meconopsis were interspersed with Primulas.
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Meconopsis planting which looks straight out of a show garden.
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Look fantastic with bright yellows which highlight the rich orange anthers.
Meconopsis napaulensis and Aquilegia vulgaris
How lovely does this M. napaulensis look with these purple wild-seeded Aquilegia vulgaris?
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This Meconopsis was standing tall against a Tibetan Cherry Prunus serrula. Note the self-seeded Foxgloves behind too.
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A late-flowering Rhododendron makes for a great backdrop for these blue and purple poppies.

I hope that this inspires you to grow some if you have the right garden or why not have a go and find out. If not get along to the Scottish Plant Hunter’s Garden in Pitlochry to have a look. Also the National Collection is held by Holehird Gardens near Windermere in the Lake District – now would be an excellent time to see them!

 

Annette

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