Poppies On The Downs

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

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As I worked in the garden,

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

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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

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

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Poppies aren’t a UK native

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

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Each plant can have 60 000 seeds

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

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or, perhaps, by artillery shells.

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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.

oooOOOooo

This post won the RHS Gardening Blogs Competition 2013.