June 2, 2015

Poppies! Orange and Violet Serendipity

Four years ago I ordered three maroon 'Heartbeat' poppies, but there were shipping delays and the plants grew slowly, so this was the first year that buds appeared on the plants.  I was excited to see how the deep color worked with the violet and mauve color scheme that is blooming in the northwest corner right now.

However, when the flowers finally appeared they were not maroon.  They were in-your-face, traffic stopping, construction barrel reddish-orange.  Ugh!  I was so disappointed after four years of waiting.  But then my daughters kept crooning over how beautiful they were, and my husband pointed out that orange and violet look pretty good together.  Even my three year old son liked the 'puppies' in the garden.  Hmmm.

I kept gazing out at that corner from the dining room window, my window upstairs, and the bench under the arbor nearby.  I even pulled a chair out to the middle of the path so I could stare right at the poppies and other colors.  I considered how the orange poppies were a deeper version of the rosy-orange 'Totally Tangerine' geum blooms (at bottom and right above), so all those orange flowers created a nice connection throughout the area.

I pondered how the purple spikes of 'Caradonna' salvia and deep blue-violet flowers of 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris made a beautiful background for a pop of reddish-orange color.  I even found myself liking the way the orange played off the mauve-purple globes of 'Ambassador' allium hovering above.

I can't believe it, but I decided that I really love these reddish-orange poppies!  So I transplanted the third plant from another spot to a place of honor at the center of the bed among the salvia.  That little plant still isn't blooming this year but will be big enough to flower next year.  We're looking forward to even more of those giant poppy blooms in years to come.

Orange and violet are kind of fabulous.  Who would have thought?  Of course I did go ahead and order three more of the 'Heartbeat' poppy plants.  I have other spots where I can put them, and they make a nice color echo of the 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia  (barely visible in the center above) in this area.

All is well in the northwest corner after all.  It is especially enjoyable to sit on the bench under the arbor and watch countless bees feasting on all the flowers.  They really love the purple 'Caradonna' salvia, but they also frequent the 'Totally Tangerine' geum.  The geum flowers bend over and sway precariously each time a giant bumblebee lands on them.  It's kind of funny to watch.

This is part of the view from the arbor.  After I decided that I liked the color scheme, I couldn't stop taking photos.  In the background, 'Pagan Purple' delphiniums are getting ready to bloom.  Rosy-red 'Montgomery' astilbes are also in bud next to the path.  The parade of blooms will continue . . .

I mentioned in my last post that we did some transplanting in this area on Memorial Day.  In addition to moving the tree peonies away from the sprinklers to curb the Botrytis rot they've been experiencing, I made room for another butterfly bush.  You can see one of the magenta flowers of 'Miss Ruby' above.

This butterfly bush will provide color to the area after the salvia, allium, astrantia, Siberian iris and poppies finish blooming (the 'TT' geum blooms all summer).  The magenta flowers look especially nice next to the dark 'Black Negligee' Cimicifuga leaves at the base of the photo.  And of course we will enjoy watching butterflies on 'Miss Ruby' from the arbor bench.

Here's another shot of fabulous orange and violet.  'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris are in the front with 'TT' geum at back.  The upright, grass-like leaves of the iris work really well against the airy sprays of rounded geum flowers.  It's a fun challenge to try to mix different forms as well as colors into a beautiful whole.

I guess the moral of this story is to keep your mind open when planning your garden.  Gardening is definitely a trial and error process, and sometimes serendipity graces the scene with unexpected beauty.


  1. Serendipity speaks! I think it's a great combination.

  2. It really works, doesn't it? Surprise! I love it when that happens. It's all so beautiful. I wouldn't be able to stop taking pictures either! :)

  3. Personally, I love the wild abandon of color... reminds me of a recent lamp I did which turned out to be a favorite!... Gorgeous garden and that last photo is to die for... Larry

  4. I love the poppies. I planted some from seed this year that my Mom gave me. But I'm unsure as to the color. Can't wait to see what they will eventually look like! :)


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