Poppies have been symbols of eternal sleep since the time of the ancient Greeks, thanks to the narcotic qualities of the famous great scarlet poppy. As much as we’re fans of The Wizard of Oz however, and the sensual, technicolour overload that fills the screen as Dorothy drifts off amongst a field of brightest red, we’re actually rather more fond of its cousin, the less risqué oriental poppy. This variety is native mainly to northeastern Turkey and northern Iran and what it lacks in opiate qualities, it more than makes up for with it’s vibrant colours: from clean white with aubergine-black blotches to salmon pinks and deep maroons, they make a brassy centrepiece for any bouquet.
In fact many of the varieties have frankly brilliant, evocative names - though quite how their evocative names tie into the flowers themselves is, as ever, questionable... For example one red shade is known as 'G.I. Joe' whereas another shade of red is known as the 'Indian Chief'. Are these two to war over the land they grow in (or rather the land one of them grows in and the other sort of just takes)? Our favourite name however has to be the simple yet smile-inducing 'Patty's Plum' which was first discovered in a Somerset compost heap by someone called...Sandra. Of course!