It's here! The arrival in my garden of the stunning poppy Lauren's Grape (Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape') is one of my favorite moments in the whole garden season. Blooming as it does about the first day of summer, this Kool-Aid-colored poppy signals the start of the celebrated (by me anyway) season and the beginning of hot weather, when the tropicals, tender perennials and annuals really take off and, soon after, give my garden its late-season zing. Plus, what's not to like about this deep dark color, appearing atop a stem clothed in crinkly blue green foliage and studded with nodding buds that salute the sky when flower time comes? It even self sows, so once you've got it, you've got it forever after.
When this distinctively hued flower first popped up in papaverphile Lauren Springer's garden, she recognized it as the apex of annual poppiedom, ripped out all its lesser rivals and spent something like seven years to develop a seed strain that would come true. It was worth every minute. Some years back, she gave a bag of seeds and I've appreciated this plant ever since. Thanks, Lauren!