Meconopsis Visual Reference Guide. Includes Photos, Taxonomy And Cultivation Information.
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
The first flower of a meconopsis for 2014. This is Meconopsis punicea and it is always very early compared to the other species I have in cultivation. I have only six plants to flowers this season and although on a really hot day they do open right up I always hand pollinate between any plants that are out. It is usually 3 or 4 days after they open that the pollen is shed and I pollinate with a soft paintbrush as long as there is any pollen still shedding. They must be insect pollinated in the wild and I have always assumed the long drooping flower is to keep rain off, since it must flower in a wet season in China. It is an extra-ordinary colour for a 'blue poppy' and my favorite. I have done very badly with my seed sown Meconopsis. I have already been rescued with trays of Meconopsis punicea to prick on (all done). Yesterday I traveled up to home in Scotland via a friend, Jeanie Jones from Dumfries. She has traveled very widely in the Himalayas and I met her when I went on an organised trip to Yunnan a few years ago. She is the most green fingered person I have ever known and has a huge range of wonderful plants and almost countless pots of seedlings. Her speciality is Primula with a long list which she has seen in the wild. She gave me all sorts of Meconopsis that I had lost and these are all now pricked on. So my sins have been forgiven and I can replant the 'peat garden' with all the different species that I love to have.
Yesterday was a show of the Scottish Rock Garden Club at Perth. People bring plants to show from all over Scotland to these regional shows and the benches were crowned with a great many plants. A little early for any Meconopsis in flower but a great boon at these shows is they are attended by nurserymen from far afield including a wonderful stand from Aberconway nurseries in Wales. Many of these stalls did have Meconopsis plants for sale and unlike garden centres - which tend to all have the same ordinary plants there are masses of rare treasures for sale often at very modest prices. The George Forrest Medal - commemorating that wonderful plant hunter - goes to the best plant in the show and this was won by Cyril Lafong. A stunning pan of dwarf Iris suaveolens 'yellow'.
Meconopsis punicea seedlings. This is a plant that I have always done so well with in the past. Seed is sown as soon as ripe and kept moist until early spring when germination usually occurs easily. This year I had almost total failure which was hugely disappointing. I have a gardening friend just up the road - Carol Bairner - and she had a huge germination and even seedlings growing in the beds and with great generosity gave me two large pans of seedlings to prick on and I now have nearly 300 potential plants. I am pretty sure my home-made compost was defective and they are now planted on into a proprietary compost. They are small but with really careful handling while pricking on they should survive well. I have six to flower in the garden so I should get seed again this early autumn. They are normally always biennial and these will flower next June.
The yellow form of the skunk cabbage Lysichiton americanus - lovely at this time of year by the small pond. Even a fairly small pond can help increase humidity on a hot dry summer day over an adjacent area with Meconopsis plants.
Two Erythronium The upper image is a clump of E. revolutum. There is variation in these large clumps and all are self sown seedlings and it is possible they have hybridized with other species near by. They grow very well in almost full shade and the only disadvantage is when the leaves die down in early summer, and if the tubers are to be maintained in size, they should not be removed until dead and shriveled.
The lower is Erythronium sibericum. Large and very beautiful. I have two clumps one in a dry sandy bed for raising bulbs from seed and the other planted out in half shade in the peat bed - so very accomodating here.
Ipheon uniflorum (synonym Triteleia uniflora) This comes from Argentina and Uruguay. Happy in sun in a dryish site
Allium paradoxum var. normale.This is a rather lovely Allium from the Middle East (Iran). It has large pure white flowers and grows happily in semi -shade in a large colony. This form does not off set bulbils or have an onion smell and is a very beautiful clump forming spring flower