Friday, May 05, 2006

California Poppies

I am having to water the garden again, and have had plenty of time to study the bright orange California poppies which have sprung up outside the fence. The leaves are sea-green and fretted, but blunt across the tips, and spring like a posy from the ground. The flowers grow singly from each frond, first with a long pale green dunce's cap on top of a flat, bright pink disc like a tutu which marks the beginning of a flower, then suddenly the dunce's cap disappears and a swirl of impossibly bright petals unfolds. It's all over in a day or two, only a long thin capsule with a few contorted stigmae, still on the tutu, so far no swelling seed case but I'll keep my eyes open. I also want to find a discarded dunce's cap.

Are they true poppies? I have been going over the sequence for oriental poppies and it is quite different - the leaves, the two hairy pods which split apart to show petals, then the flat black open arrangements of anthers, then that wonderful sculptural seedpod grooved like a melon and topped with a rippled lid, holes all around the lip like a glorious censer.

I can clearly remember walking back from church with Colin,my cousins, my father and his father, across the Applegarth through golden wheat laced with red poppies, and suddenly realising that we ate what was growing there at eye level. I was transfixed, and my father had to come back and take me by the hand, scolding me because we had to get back for lunch, Aunt Emily and my mother had stayed home to prepare it in all its Yorkshire glory. I knew before that that we ate the vegetables we helped Old Rose pick (he didn't WANT our help!), but the significance didn't hit me until that day, that the earth and plants fed us. Could it have been Harvest Festival, and the sermon fell on receptive infant ears? I can have been no more than four, probably two or three.


Blogger suscipe said...

The seedpods are growing, positively priapic.

2:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home