Poppies On The Downs

A smudge of red has been visible from The Old Forge for over a week.


As I worked in the garden,


it drew my eye.  The following morning, I decided to go for a closer look.


I associate field or common poppies (Papaver rhoeas – should you care), with field margins but this huge expanse of rape hadn’t been sprayed with herbicide


and I suppose the wet spring has encouraged them to flourish.


Poppies aren’t a UK native


and were probably introduced in the seed-corn of neolithic settlers.


Each plant can have 60 000 seeds


which may lie dormant for up to 80 years.  They germinate after the soil has been disturbed; either by ploughing


or, perhaps, by artillery shells.


Which is why poppies thrived on the battlefields of Belgium and north-east France during the Great War and became a symbol of war’s horror and a remembrance of loss.

But on a beautiful July morning, I wasn’t thinking of war or mud or death.  I was simply thinking how splendid the South Downs are – and very close to my heart.


This post won the RHS Gardening Blogs Competition 2013.

73 thoughts on “Poppies On The Downs

    • Hello Julie, thank you. It has been quite an experience winning the competition (I might have spent a little more time on the original post if I had known back in July that I was going to enter it into a competition!). And at long, long, long last I’m going to the Chelsea Flower Show!!! Dave


  1. Meraviglioso post, complimenti per la meritata vittoria.
    Vorrei essere in mezzo a quei campi di papaveri invece che
    qui seduta ad una scrivania con la pioggia che cade a dirotto.
    Ciao dall’ Italia.


    • Hello Loretta, I’m afraid my Italian is non-existent but Google translate did the job! Thanks for taking the trouble of commenting and your kind words – it always makes blogging more worthwhile when I hear what people think. Oh and I hope that rain lets up soon. Dave


  2. Love your blog sir, but am unable to vote for the post in the RHS Competition – somehow the “Vote” button doesn’t work 😦


  3. Love those shots of the poppy fields. A warm glow on a chilly night. I’m also enjoying imagining those neolithic people accidentally broadcasting their seed and helping to spread these beautiful flowers.


    • Hi, I read that poppy seed has also been found in the grain at a couple of ancient Egyptian sites. So they too would have witnessed scenes like those above. Which is a rather pleasing continuity, I think. Dave


  4. Dear David, Such beauty you have capture over and over again. Your posts have made me smile,laugh and sigh. I don’t mind you getting up on your soapbox once in awhile. It is privilege many suffered for us to have. I also did not know the history that went along with the poppy. All the best to you!


  5. Wow, spectacular. I love fields of poppies, just wish they hadn’t become such a rare sight. It was something that the village I just moved frrom was quite good at until they put the allotments and community orchard in and got all tidy in the process. I missed this first time around, I was on my blogging holiday – i.e. holiday away from blogging, not a holiday of blogging… Anyway, found it because of the RHS competition, which you appear to have kepts very quiet about, but I just voted for you, so there.


    • Hmm, a holiday of blogging sounds very tiring, Janet. And well, yes I have kept a little quiet about the competition – that whole self-promoting thing makes me pretty uncomfortable but I have mentioned it on Twitter and FB and I suppose I ought to do a brief post about it too. So there! (Thanks for the vote – that’s one). Dave


  6. Pingback: oh what a scene!!!! - tomorrows adventures

  7. How gorgeous and you’ve taken some amazing pictures, I saw some poppy fields recently but as fleeting glimpses on a train journey down to London such a treat for you to get so close. Stunning.


  8. How very beautiful… but quite tinged with sadness due to the Flanders connection. A few years ago I saw similar poppy fields near the North Yorks coast – quite spectacular. (Lovely shots, too.)


  9. I’m finally getting round to catching up with everyone’s blogs. Your images are spectacular David. I wish I had the time to get down there and see it for myself. I can see why you love the South Downs so much. I loved it when we visited briefly last year and we had a whistle-stop trip a few weeks ago now to West Dean gardens. We only stayed one night near Goodwood but it was such a beautiful area. I was even looking in estate agents.


    • West Dean is very impressive isn’t it? I visited for the first time last summer and loved the walled garden – reminded me of Heligan. Glad you liked the shots – the poppies lasted for two or three weeks and are only now beginning to fade. Dave


  10. Seeing the poppies appear in May has always been special for me – like a flag saying summer is coming – but I’ve never seen a display like this one. The photographs are superb and show the abundance and vivacity of the poppies.


  11. Oh my! One word…Stunning! ….and simply goregous! (which is now several words) but we’re among freinds & I won’t tell.
    Peace x


    • In the UK, wearing a poppy for Remembrance Sunday is virtually compulsory, Allen. Seriously. TV presenters and even people just being interviewed (for whatever reason) who don’t wear one are often attacked and vilified in (some of) the press as somehow being unpatriotic. I am very uncomfortable with that view. The wearing of a poppy should be a personal choice only and not an imperative. Why else did we fight the two WW’s if not to defend that individual freedom and choice? (I’ll climb down off my soapbox now). D


  12. Beautiful indeed, I guess it’s the heat rather than the rain that makes field poppies thrive, in fact they have flourished in may here. What a nice place the Old Forge must be, is it inhabited?


    • Well, I bow to your local knowledge, Alberto – as field poppies are originally from the Med. (Though Christina mentions the rain below as being a factor in producing a good show). Either way I’ve not seen them on this scale before. And yep, the OF is inhabited, Mr Nosey. D


  13. Oh so very beautiful! Such a lovely depth of colour, and perfect under summer skies. I’ve only seen them in small field margins, never on a scale like this! Quite superb.


  14. What a affirming site. Lot’s of other things, but nothing like that here in Glamorgan at the moment – you are a lucky man to have walked up to that in simplicity. Thanks for the images.


  15. Wonderful, poppies always make me smile. The ones here have just finished, they lasted much longer than other years because of all the rain. Great images, you’ve really captured the RED.


  16. Have nearly crashed the car so many times catching crazy glimpses of lipstick red streaked across the downs…. this year they are spectacular. Also there is a wonderful field of Flax near where you garden…..keep your eyes peeled!


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