Poppy and opium, are always in news, generally for the wrong reasons. However, a good gardener will know how to take the richness of this vibrantly colored flower and turn it to an advantage. Considered as a 'common cornfield weed', today, it is one of the most popular garden additions grown in flower beds or in lined pots.
Rich in symbolism, these flowers are used as a symbol of sleep and death or consolation and eternal life. They have been used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep for years now. This myth has been depicted in the fictional movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where the magical poppy fields cause those who pass through them, to sleep eternally.
The corn poppies have been metaphorically mentioned in John McCrae's poem, In Flanders Fields, as a symbol for fallen soldiers since World War I. They are used to honor the dead in both England and Australia.
Poppies are grown for both illegal and legal trade purposes. The fields of Afghanistan are used for weapon funding through the opium trade. However, the seeds have medicinal value to aid sleeping and treat insomnia. Ancient civilizations have used the seeds to promote fertility.
Not all seeds are used for medicinal purposes, some have culinary uses too. They are used to make a paste for gravies and baking or roasted as garnish for salads or desserts. The seeds are also used as bird feed and for oil extraction. You can use poppy seeds to make some really yummy meals.
The flower is easily grown and looks excellent for mass bedding. They are grown through tiny seeds, which should be mixed with sand for even distribution. Sprinkle them on moist soil, lightly rake the soil and cover it with newspapers, keeping the beds moist until germination occurs, that would be within a week or so.
Acclimatize the seedlings to sunlight and transplant them when they reach a four leaf stage. As the plants grow to about two feet, space them about 5-8 inches apart. Fertilize once in a month, during its summer bloom period. Keep shearing any wilted flowers, but hold on to a few for the seed pod. Keep the bed weed free, and enjoy the blooms!
A mass bedding in varied colors or a single pot each will exude charm and beauty, while adding to the essence of your garden.