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My California Poppies

By Karen England

A year and a half ago, my husband and I purchased a small 50-year-old house on two sloping acres in Vista. Although, this purchase was of a fixer-upper home on a fixer-upper property, it suited us perfectly – because it is located in the “county agricultural zone” of Vista where I dream of a having an Herb Farm. To that end, of providing me with my dream, my husband has accomplished an amazing amount of work in a short amount of time - to date, the property has been re-graded & trenched, irrigated, fenced, cleared, chipped, mulched, and the planting has begun.

One of the many things I wanted to plant was the California Poppy. So, last summer I purchased California Poppy seeds, “Eschscholzia californica” to plant in the Fall. I was amazed at the many varieties available at Sunshine Gardens. I had no idea, until then, that in addition to the ubiquitous orange & yellow that we think of as our State flower, there were other colors available such as “White Linen, “which, according to the seed packet, “A mass planting of this striking white California Poppy is very dramatic! Petals look as fresh as clean linen!” or the multi colored “Thai Silk” variety whose packet states “The bright & wide color range together with the silky texture of the petals remind one of Thai silks. Colors range from apricot to cream, pale pink to carmine-rose, and orange-scarlet to brilliant orange. Semi-double flowers.” Wow - who knew? Well, I took my seeds home (I bought every variety) and filed them in my seed organizer but, alas, never got around to planting them. Typical!

Well, imagine our surprise and delight this Spring when hundreds upon hundreds of California Poppies sprouted in the very area I had intended to plant my seeds! Not much else is blooming there right now so the cheerful orange color is like bright sunshine, visible as you drive up the street and unbelievably beautiful. Apparently, when we cleared and graded the area we unknowingly unearthed and spread around California Poppy seeds that had been growing wild there in the past. We didn’t know that poppies had ever grown there - none were there when we purchased the property. Although I still intend to plant my seeds someday, my California Poppies that came up on their own will always be the most beautiful to me.

California Poppies are perennials that are commonly grown as annuals & are easily grown from seed. In our mild winter area you can sow the seed directly on cultivated soil during the Fall in the full sun. Once established they are drought tolerant.

California Poppy photo obtained from Microsoft Clips Online.

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm".

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