Flanders Poppy

Papaver rhoeas

The Flanders poppy is a flower that symbolises lives lost in conflict which is remembered and celebrated annually on Remembrance Day 11 November. The flower is suddenly receiving renewed attention as it comes to symbolise lives lost globally. This includes the raging conflict in Europe and elsewhere, but also refers to the debilitating pandemic which might well be described as a true conflict.

MayFord Seeds have always had the Flanders Poppy in their well-known Wildflower Meadow Mix pack, but they are excited to announce that the seed will be available on its own in a smart new livery seed packet. The idea behind this packaging is that the concept is unique and it therefore deserved a complete departure from MayFord’s standard packaging design. 

How to sow:

The Flanders poppy seed may be sown directly into the soil in a full sun position and preferably in cold soil during winter or very early spring. Sow the seeds directly into loose, friable soil, preferably premixed with some seedling mix or a coir/peat type mix. One seed packet will be sufficient for 1 square metre. The seed is tiny! Sow on the surface and cover very lightly. Press down and keep moist. When the seedlings reach 8 cm in height, you might want to thin them out to 20 cm between each row, and 20 cm between each seedling, however massed together they will have more effect. Your poppies will take about a hundred days to flower with a final height of 60cm. Drought tolerant and water-wise! The more you pick them for the vase, the more they flower. If you don’t pick, do deadhead the spent blooms to keep them flowering. An easy flower to grow which flowers freely for a long time! 

Did You Know? 

The First World War in 1914 -1918 created prime conditions for poppies to flourish in Flanders and north-west France (and Gallipoli). Continual bombardment disturbed the soil and brought the seeds to the surface. They were fertilized by nitrogen in the explosives and lime from the shattered rubble of the buildings. Flanders Fields was a major battle theatre on the Western Front during the war where one million soldiers from more than 50 different countries were wounded, missing or killed in action here. Entire cities and villages were destroyed, their population scattered across Europe and beyond. Flanders Field is located in Waregem, West Flanders, Belgium, however experts have said the poppy is fast disappearing there due to dramatic changes in the plant life of northern France and Belgian Flanders in the past 100 years.

The poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was first published in England’s Punch magazine in December 1915. Within months, this poem came to symbolize the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, the poem continues to be a part of Remembrance Day ceremonies throughout the world: 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Look out for this brand new seed pack at leading retailers and garden centres!

The Gardener