The Himalayan Blue Poppy

Meconopsis 'Lingholm' flower

If there is one plant that catches people’s attention, it is the Himalayan blue poppy or Meconopsis. The blue poppy is fascinating because of the big, beautiful, blue flowers that are held above the light green foliage. The 4 petals surround an orb of yellow-tipped stamens which gives it the poppy-like appearance. The allure of the plants is partially due to the fact that the flower color is not commonly found in nature but probably as much so to their exotic history and extreme difficulty in growing.

Meconopsis en masse

While I was in graduate school, my classmate, Shannon Still (now PhD.) researched Meconopsis in order to determine which plants were the strongest growers. He found that Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ was one of the strongest growers. This is due to its hybrid nature (a seedling grown from two different species) and its extra chromosomes (this makes it a fertile hybrid with larger flowers). If you really want to dig into the history of Meconopsis ‘Lingholm,’ read it here.

Meconopsis opening

In a garden setting, Meconopsis are notoriously finicky and short-lived. They grow well in the Himalayas, parts of Scotland, and parts of Alaska. So imagine our surprise at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens this spring, when all of our M. ‘Lingholm’ plants started reemerging from the ground! We think that our rich soils, good snow cover most of the winter, and cool summers (we rarely go above 85 degrees) aid in the success of growing these plants. We just bought in more Meconopsis as it would be my dream to have a huge drift of them going through the garden. Stay tuned… and come see them in flower during mid to late May.

Rodney

Images: planteoversikt.blogspot.com, alpinegardensociety.net, sun-gazing.com

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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5 Comments

  1. Shay @ Kinetico San Antonio on April 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Beautiful pictures! The blue pops right out of the picture!

  2. Rebekah on April 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    What a beautiful flower! I would love to see it in person.

  3. Hap on April 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I had a couple of huge swaths of these back in Alaska, they actually started self seeding and taking over parts of my garden. They are one of the plants I still miss growing since I moved to California, but even with trying them in my coolest corner and icing them weekly over the winter they just don’t like Berkeley’s mediterranean climate. Oh well, I can grow so many cool things and have more than 95 days to do it!

    • rodneyeason on April 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Wow! Self seeding Meconopsis and now the California climate. Both sound wonderful. – rodney

  4. Amanda on April 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I saw this is person at the Botanical Gardens in Reykjavik. Breathtaking doesn’t come close to describing them, and aesthetically so appropriate to the climate, somehow.

    I came home wondering why everyone in Iceland doesn’t have a yard full of these! I fell in love with them, but, alas, I live in Alabama…

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