Another beautiful week in garden world. I can’t decide if oriental poppies or ancient peonies are my favorites. I have a Sarah Bernhart peony right next to the Princess Victoria Louise poppies. I’ve had both longer than I can remember and every year I marvel.
There are many types of poppies. I’m particularly fond of the opiums. They are annuals but will reseed reliably forever. The key is recognizing the baby seedlings in the spring. Often there is a huge mass needing thinning. Good luck, however, since they resent transplantation. If you are looking for seed, they never call them opium poppies in the catalog. They are somniferum (as in sleep — get it?) or often called bread-seed poppies. Thompson and Morgan offer several varieties. These were the tools the wicked witch used against Dorothy. At any rate, they are beautiful in the garden.
There are many other varieties of annuals or biennials. Last week I had planned to write about the red poppy used as a symbol of Memorial Day and perhaps quote the poem by John McCrae, In Flanders Field. I changed my mind, happily, when I received the wonderful letter “Coming Home” from my Chilmark friend, Ken. I have received quite a bit of feedback especially from Vietnam vets, their friends and families.
So next year, God willing, if I’m still writing, I’ll get to the Flanders Field poppies.
I have a favorite tangerine gem which, if deadheaded, will bloom throughout the summer. It is a perennial which reseeds as well.
I know I have mentioned this a few times but it is worth reminding you. The irises smell like the color they are. I have some orange ones with tangerine scent, grape-smelling purples and white vanilla. Yesterday I sniffed the Poem of Ecstasy, which has a caramel top with purple falls. It smelled like slightly burned sugar.
My friend Phyllis rang to mention the giant hogweed now blooming on the edges of the woods and roadsides. I must remind you that it is a phototoxin. It will give a significant rash (aka a chemical burn) if handled midday when it is sunny and hot. You will recognize it by its beautiful white umbrels.
Last week I whined about my loss of several San Marzano tomatoes. Wouldn’t you know, some kind person dropped off a couple of them at my house anonymously. One even had tiny tomatoes already. I love that. Maybe I should complain about a big money loss?
As you leave Oak Bluffs on New York avenue just past the Ocean View there is a stone wall dripping with cobalt-blue lithodora. It is worth a trip to Oak Bluffs just to see them. The color is remarkable. Mine did not winter over but one did in the charter school parking lot.
I have been eating sugar snap peas. This is the earliest ever. I planted them late February in an unheated hoop house as an experiment. I intend to repeat next year as they are so enjoyable, especially when I rarely have time to cook a proper supper. Violet and I eat our fill outside and call it salad.
Speaking of Violet, she asked me recently if I ever heard of a band called the Grateful Dead. Now that was challenging to answer an 11 year old!
I wonder if Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Darrell Issa are competing for the Joe McCarthy award. I understand there are some legitimate questions concerning the IRS, Benghazi and the Associated Press, but why do those two gentleman (and I use the term very loosely) need to be so meanspirited and down right nasty? When is the U.S. Congress going to be about the people’s business?