The Reford Gardens in Quebec are famous for the blue Himalayan poppy which has grown there since the early 1900’s. This summer I saw it for myself as I wandered through the Blue Poppy Glade.
Although the plant itself is rather insipid, with small blooms and scraggley foliage, when grouped together they look quite pretty. Blue is such an unusual colour in the garden and it si with good reason that so many visitors stop and take photographs.
The Reford Garden’s website gives the history to this mysterious flower. Apparently, they are native to the Tsangpo Gorge in the southeast corner of Tibet, and the blue poppies at Reford Gardens are the descendants of the first plants Elsie Reford grew from seed in the 1930s. She obtained seeds from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland and was among the first gardeners in North America to try growing them. The climate of the Lower St.Lawrence provides the plants with just the right level of humidity and cool night air. Despite their reputation of being difficult to grow, the blue poppies thrive there, blooming from the middle of June through the end of July.
I found seed packets at the gift shop and thought that these poppies would make a lovely addition to my garden. After reading the directions, however, I changed my mind. There is no way I could follow the instructions that–if you can believe it–require a January start! The seeds need to be frozen for a certain number of days (surely they would get lost between the ground beef and the ice cream. Or in a snow bank) before being sown in pots and kept at a very precise level of humidity and temperature. There is no way my kitchen has a consistent level of anything, so I decided to take a pass.
Sometimes it is enough to take home a photograph and a memory.