Saturday, 18 April 2015

Flanders Poppy - papaver rhoeas

This photo was taken by CHGC President Geoff at Pozieres, France, the site of one of the greatest battles ever fought by Australian soldiers. Over seven weeks in mid-1916, at the Battle of the Somme, and very near to where these poppies were growing, the Australian Imperial Force suffered 23,000 casualties,
6,700 of whom died.

To commemorate the 100th year anniversary of Gallipoli this year, the CHGC are going to distribute Flanders Poppy seeds to members. It would be fantastic if each member were to plant the seeds and in November the Flanders Poppy would be our Flower of the Month. This would be our club's small way of contributing to the anniversary.

Some background to these poppies
These seeds can lay dormant in the ground for many years and will only germinate if the soil is disturbed in early spring. Due to shelling on the Belgium and France front, the Flanders Fields were disturbed during the fighting in 1915 and this resulted in masses of deep-red poppies blooming every spring and summer for the next four years.

Papaver rhoeas - Flanders Poppy

The red Flanders poppy also flowers in Turkey in early spring, as it did when the ANZAC troops landed at Gallipoli. 

In Australia, it is customary to wear a single poppy on Remembrance Day (November 11) to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice as a result of war. Each year we take comfort in these symbols of tribute and affection as they remind us to reflect and pay homage to the memory of the fallen.

How to grow poppies
Flanders poppies are very easy to grow from seed in April but, because they don't like to be transplanted it is best to sow them directly into a sunny garden bed. Dig some organic matter through the topsoil, level the soil, scatter the seeds, then cover with a thin layer of seed-raising mix. Firm this down and then water with a fine spray. Keep the soil damp until seedlings germinate and protect from slugs and snails. To extend the flowering period, liquid-feed them regularly and remove spent flowers.

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