Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the start of the vast human tragedy that was World War One. For those who want to commemorate this solemn occasion now is the perfect time to buy and sow the Common Corn Poppy. Papaver Rhoeas is the correct species name, but many of the main seed suppliers will sell it in either name. Indeed if you look online, with some careful trawling, you will find suppliers willing to sell up to a kilo of the beautiful flower seed.

It is a delicate annual flower, lasting perhaps only a day, but is a plant nevertheless which has special meaning and a powerful beauty. It is also profligate in seed, so be aware, once successfully sown it will be forever more in your garden.

The best way for it to grow, is for you to prepare the ground first. It prefers newly broken and well tilled soil - hence its sudden appearance on the fields of Flanders, after the shelling and bombardments had destroyed the well kept fields, turning them to all consuming mud. Thus, when they suddenly filled this desolate land with rich red, it must have been a thing of terrible beauty to those poor souls.

If however, like me you are thinking of filling a lawn or driveway with the flower, the most favoured way is to mix the seed with compost first. 1 bag of compost to 100 grams of seed, but if you have bought a small bag, just sow direct.Then with a slitter or spiker - or indeed with a garden fork - create shallow holes throughout the area. To be fair you should be doing this now anyway to de-compact and add drainage to the soil before winter so every few spikes, should be deeper.

Once you are satisfied, walk slowly over the area, sowing conservatively to make sure of an even spread.Once you have finished, sit back. Hopefully next year, you can be proud to remember all those, friend or foe, who lost their lives in the most grievous of conflicts.