The Californian poppy is a gorgeous plant with glaucous foliage and huge blooms, their white petals looking like slightly crumpled tissue paper surrounding a central boss of golden stamens. But how can a poppy from California be an Irish plant? It has strong Irish associations having been collected by Thomas Coulter of Dundalk in the early 1830s and named in honour of him and the Irish astronomer, Thomas Romney Robinson. Not only that but it flowered for the first time at the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin in 1877.
Romneya flowers in late summer, the timing depending on whether you cut it to the ground in spring or merely shorten it back. No shrinking violet, it needs a fair bit of room in the garden but on seeing it in flower you couldn’t begrudge it. Ask in your local nursery or garden centre, eg there was one on sale in Clonmel at the time of the AGM.
(As appeared in Newsletter 146, Autumn 2019. Text and photos courtesy of Maeve Bell)