Photo by Melody

In a Tucson Garden, the Flanders Poppy Grows

By Benjamin Hill (BennysPlaceMay 27, 2013

It has been a year since my first article was published. Writing an article on this day is a blessing and I hope to continue to write something for you every year.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 25, 2009.  Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

When I asked if I could write for Dave's Garden, I never imagined the wonderful and blessed direction it would take me. I have shared with you stories from my heart and so many of you have so kindly responded to my words. I have made some good friends in the past year and as I look at all of my published articles, I have noticed that my original Memorial Day article is the most popular. That to me is overwhelming. At the end of that article, I indicated I purchased some Flanders poppy seeds and in late winter I planted them along with other special seeds sent to me from a friend in France.

I created a large mound of earth for this very special flowerbed. On one side, I planted the special seeds from France and on the other side, I planted seeds purchased from Select Seeds. I also dispersed several cornflowers, California poppies, nasturtiums and various other wildflower seeds. The seedlings appeared in groups and as the true leaves formed, visions of dozens of waving poppies intertwined with various other flowers filled my head. As the foliage grew I fought off rabbits and other marauders who severely hampered the progress of my beloved flowerbed. As the months passed, the foliage recovered and grew tall and lush. Each day I would get on my hands and knees and carefully inspect all the plants for any sign of a bloom. As the days grew warmer, I feared it was going to get too hot and I would not enjoy any bloom at all. I contacted my friend in France and he alleviated my fears by saying he has seen the Flanders poppy grow and bloom in the heat of Spain. With relief, I realized more than ever I shall have to be so very patient.

ImageI was strongly encouraged when I noticed the first buds of the California poppies emerging. The cornflowers and nasturtiums had been in bloom for quite a while and slowly and rather magically my vision of a bed filled with flowing colors was becoming a reality-and then it happened. One afternoon when conducting my inspection, I did not have to get on my hands and knees. There were little fuzzy emerging buds on nearly all of the Flanders poppies on each side of the flowerbed. It was happening. They were going to bloom-and within two days the first signs of red appeared. This flowerbed is at the top of a terraced garden so I climbed up quickly and knelt beside that glorious red bloom, and tears filled my eyes. I just sat there staring at it until the flower became blurry from all the tears that were forming. So many thoughts filled my head all at once. This was no longer a flower; it was a symbol and a powerful one at that.

My garden is filled with plants that have something to say and this flowering plant could say plenty. Some of these beautiful, red poppies that have made their home in my little Tucson garden are descendants of the original poppies that emerged during World War I. As I remained kneeling, I thought of all those who gave their lives so future generations could live without fear and be free of tyranny. They fought for the common good and I am so blessed I can have a flower in my garden that can remind me of that fact.

One day, when I make it back to Europe, I will visit my friend in France and perhaps we can both view the poppies blooming in the wild. That will be a blessed day. For now, I shall gaze upon the fantastically beautiful crimson faces of my Flanders poppies and pray they will still be in bloom on this day. Regardless, I shall once again wear my Buddy Poppy and take a moment to say a quiet thank you.

Thank you kindly for reading. All images were taken by the author and are of the beautiful bloom of these very special flowers.

Thank you to my friend in France for his kind words and for the seeds.

  About Benjamin Hill  
I am an old fashioned gardener. To me nothing is finer than the romantic cottage gardens. The colours and forms create a symphony to delight all the senses. I love to tell a good story and my garden provides my inspiration. I am blessed to have such a beautiful son and I enjoy teaching him to love and appreciate the goodness, peace and fulfillment tending a garden can bring. Finally, I shall be forever grateful to Alan Titchmarsh for inspiring me to get out there and make something out of a little bit of earth.

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