The Poppy

Pleasant weather has befallen us and until this Friday we will experience a pleasant warm break and a chance to get more leaves up off our lawns and yards and hopefully all our green trees will turn and shed their damaging burden.  Sunny days in the Okanagan are few and short in the winter and now with the time change they end way too early.

The Poppy is a herbaceous, colourful and ancient plant that grows in many areas of the world.  It can be a perennial or annual, easy to grow to the point of invasive to a delicate but tenacious perennial.  They tend to grow best in spring to early summer and can be an incredible, bold flash of colour in our yards.  They are not only a showy flash of colour but the many varieties have uses from medicine (somniferous or opiate poppies), culinary  endeavours such as on cakes and breads as well as paints, and varnishes.  The seeds are rich in oils used in margarines and the pollen very important to our bees.  Most Poppies secret a latex when injured.  It was even symbolically mentioned in a children’s classic The Wizard of Oz.

“And now by beauties something with poison in it I think, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell.   Poppies, Poppies, Poppies will put them to sleep” ( Wicked Witch of the West.  Wizard Of Oz Movie 1939)

Poppies can be dangerous to animals causing sedation to excited states, loss of appetite, pin point purples in dogs to dilated pupils in cats both with whining and lost staring into space episodes.  Seeds from all types of annuals and root divisions from perennials are available including the opium poppy.  They can grow up to 2 or 3 feet tall and most will die after blooming although with perennials pruning will encourage late blooms in fall and seeds from annuals will often regenerate again the following spring.

The Poppy tends to grow in disturbed ground.  In the 12 century, in the times of Genghis Khan, white poppies grew and were symbolic of death and rebirth.  In Flanders with the disturbed ground that was a barren land of chalk soil, lime from the rubble provided the perfect medium for the Red Poppy that thanks to the poetic  Lieutenant – Colonel John McCrea, of Guelph, Ontario, who served as a medical officer in WW1 it became the symbol of fallen warriors, of sleep, peace and death.  Thanks to millions of Canadians who proudly wear the Poppy every November to keep the memories of the fallen alive and strong.  Veterans, members of our Armed Forces and our RCMP and all their families and dependants receive funding for support, representation, advocacy, disability and other needs.  These programs heartily funded and supported by our Canadian Legions have been hit hard this particular year.  So your support and proud display of a Poppy on your lapel and being kind and staying safe will again show the world of a Canadian’s Heroism. 

Poppies should be worn on the left side over the heart and should not be obstructed from view.  They are normally worn from the last Friday of October to November 11th and at all Veterans funerals and memorials.  They should always be disposed of respectfully or be saved. Thousand of Canadians place them on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier after the Remembrance Day Ceremony.  Always worn with pride and humility.

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com

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