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My recent trip to Daniel Island has prompted a four-alarm, poppy alert! I know, I sound crazy and corny but if you haven’t seen the rows and rows of fiery poppies lining roundabouts and roadways along the north end of the island, I have to recommend a Sunday drive (or “motor tour,” as my dad calls it). I was scouting a house out that way on Tuesday when I noticed the flowers were in full bloom. And after circling one of the roundabouts a good three or four times because I just couldn’t leave those flowers (I’m surprised I didn’t get a little dizzy), I pulled to the side of the road and admired them properly.
I first noticed poppies in Monterey, California, while visiting my sister (sure, I’ve seen them here and there, but literally. Here. And there. Not in eye-popping rows). They were planted along the waterfront down near the docks, and for whatever reason, they’ve struck me ever since as very confident flowers. Odd, I know, but here’s why:
- Poppies stand straight up and proud, plenty tall enough to attract attention.
- They’re not afraid to look you in the eye. Their sizeable blossoms are more than happy to face you and flaunt their perfect shapes.
- They don’t pull any punches with color either—sharp oranges, yellows, and reds. I like that in a flower. Forget variegation, I’ll take a full-force, look-over-here color of the rainbow any day.
The other reason this poppy sighting was so exciting? We can grow these! According to Luana Courtney (great name, isn’t it?), landscape superintendent of the Daniel Island Club, Papaver nudicaule 'Champagne Bubbles' are perfectly suitable for Lowcountry planting. Interested? Here are Luana’s growing tips:
- Plant Champagne Bubbles in the fall for spring blooming, eight inches center to center.
- They’re heavy feeders so root in lots of good-quality, organic soil (Luana piles on the cow manure.)
- Come March, follow a light weekly feeding schedule with a slow-release fertilizer. Poppies require full sun and good drainage.
- Snap flowers right out of the plant when done to encourage repeat blooms. They'll fizzle out by summer though—it's too hot.
- Abide-A-While in Mount Pleasant and Hyam’s on James Island are both good sources for Champagne Bubbles
P.S. If you do grow poppies, please share some photos. I’d love to see them.