Growing this blue poppy is joy. True blue happiness. I was delighted when my first Meconopsis bloomed last May. The color is a shimmering radiant blue that reflects the heavenly color of the sky and sea. It’s such a contrast to all the others flowers around that one can’t help but fall in love with this flower. As soon as mine bloomed I was already planning to collect the seed and propagate this precious gem. I waited for May to turn to June. It produced three or four flowers during this time. Each one was cause for a celebration.
This plant was new to my yard and the flowers surprised me. Like an unexpected guest. A surprise visitor. Who could knock at my front door and visit me and produce such delight? A professional athlete? A movie star? A president of our country? No, these people would be interesting but they wouldn’t bring me as much joy as Meconopsis. So as my poppy grew throughout the summer I kept watching the flower head, waiting for it to dry out so I could collect the seeds. Finally in August I couldn’t wait any longer and I cut open the three pods and teased the seeds out. I put them in a little plastic box and they sat in my house until December. I had instructions from the Rhododendron Species Garden where I purchased the plants the previous year. The instructions said specifically ‘after collecting the seed, place in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator until sowing in November or December’. Well I kept thinking about my little tiny Meconopsis seeds during the Fall and I even thought about the refrigeration part, but I never actually put them in there. To busy, too tired, life was running too fast. It’s hard to garden when you’re moving too fast. Plants don’t move at that pace. They force us to slow down. They make us look up. They help our fingers dig deep in the earth. Thank you plants.
So in December I took my little seeds to the greenhouse and sowed them onto a flat of soil, very lightly covered with soil, and put them on the heated and lighted propagation bench. I remember the instructions said that they grow like weeds, so I had high expectations. One week went by and nothing. I was disappointed, but not worried. Two weeks went by and I began to panic slightly. Three weeks went by and I thought this project was doomed. No more Meconopsis for me. My dream of a yard filled with blue poppies was dead. I was almost positive that the seeds were dead and done. I was so distressed that I called up the Rhodie Species Garden and spoke with someone. They again confirmed the process for storing seeds: collect late summer, place in ziploc bag and put IN THE REFRIGERATOR or they will dry out and die. He told me my seeds probably died, all dried out. Noooooo I thought. I would have to wait until next year and try again. Could I wait that long? One season of plant life is like a seven of my years! I wanted more seeds now! UGGGHhh. I almost tossed out my seeding flat, kicking myself for not following the formula exactly. I have a hard time following instructions exactly. Usually I prefer to make up my own instructions as I go. But sometimes that doesn’t work so well.
Fast forward to January 9, an ordinary day in the greenhouse. I was zipping around, watering, scouting for insects, helping students, etc… when I stopped in front of my Meconopsis flat. It looked the same, just soil. Nothing. I kept staring at it. Look closely I told myself, you never know. Maybe the Rhodie Species Garden Guy was wrong. Maybe those poppies were tougher than we all thought. Just maybe…wait! Did I see GREEN? WAS THAT A TEENY TINY LITTLE LOVELY STEM EMERGING? Yes! They germinated!!! I could hardly believe it. On Monday 4-5 tiny little seeds opened, shoots up and roots down. Cotyledons showing promise of a beautiful perfect poppy. I was so excited. I know some plants take a long time to germinate, but these guys really made me nervous. And now it’s Wednesday and I counted about 20 tiny little shoots shyly poking their heads out of the soil. I’m on my way to a poppy garden. Oh joy!