Papaver orientale Goliath Group 'Beauty of Livermere'
There may be exuberant showgirl qualities about the flowers of the Oriental poppies, but many of them flower only briefly, or collapse on over-laden stems. With this form, stems are straight, upright and true, rising a good 50cm above the mound of foliage. Giant single blooms unfold to deepest blood red. In the border we have learned to nestle them among the beetroot-coloured foliage of annual Atriplex hortensis var. rubra, which happily frames the blooms before obligingly rising up to conceal them after flowering.
HEIGHT/SPREAD Up to 110cm x 80cm.
ORIGINS The species is from eastern Turkey, northern Iran and the Caucasus Mountains
CONDITIONS Well-drained, fertile loam.
SEASON Flowers May to June.
The other eight plants chosen by Chris this month are:
Trollius x cultorum ‘Alabaster’
Silene dioica ‘Firefly’
Salvia pratensis ‘Lapis Lazuli’
Camassia leichtlinii ‘Semiplena’
Geranium phaeum ‘Lily Lovell’
Bupleurum longifolium ‘Bronze Beauty’
You can find out more about these plants in the May issue of the magazine - issue 185
Chris suggests places to visit to enjoy gardens at their seasonal best
Ascott House is a National Trust property offering 30 acres of Victorian planting detail originally laid out by nurseryman Sir Harry Veitch and subsequently expanded along more contemporary lines. In the spring visitors are indulged with colourful carpets of bulbs. There is also a significant collection of fine trees set in parkland. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 0PS. Tel 01296 688242, www.ascottestate.co.uk
The classic William Kent garden at Rousham House is a favourite at almost any point in the year. At this time, the wonderful apple orchard comes into its own. Step through the door into a cloud of scented blossom. The 27-acre gardens have all the majesty of a fine landscaped space, with niches of intimacy. Not open to children under 15. Near Steeple Aston, Bicester OX25 4QX. Tel 01869 347110, www.rousham.org
The Manor in Hemingford Grey is one of the oldest inhabited houses in the country. Lucy Boston, author of the Green Knowe children’s stories, moved here in 1939 and created a 4.5-acre garden with the help of horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas. A good collection of roses and the best of Sir Cedric Morris’s irises were included in her schemes. Garden open all year; telephone or see website for details. Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 9BN.
Tel 01480 463134, www.greenknowe.co.uk
On a much smaller scale, Weaver’s Cottage is home to Sylvia Norton and a National Collection of sweet peas. But it is the owner’s love of foxgloves that makes the garden a place of pilgrimage at this point in the season. 35 Streetly End, West Wickham, near Cambridge CB21 4RP. Open by appointment April to July. Tel 01223 892399.