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Pale pink poppy – Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii var. albiflorum

Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii var. albiflorum at Great Dixter

Last year at Chelsea flower show I saw this pale pink poppy all over the show gardens. I’ve been searching for a while to find it and just recently I did.

Great Dixter’s plant fairs are always worth a visit; they invite a limited number of specialist nurseries in. These set up in the lower field in wonderfully quirky little plots made up of straw bales and a wriggly tin roofed shelter. It was on one of these plots that I spotted the pale pink poppy. Phoenix Perennial Plants, run by Marina, was the nursery supplying all the plants to those Chelsea show gardens.

Phoenix Perennial Plants are not open to the public so seeing them at Dixter was a great opportunity to get some of these plants. Whilst you can buy them online, some of the prices are surprisingly high for an annual flower; they’re listed at almost £6 – for a poppy! Let’s just say that Marina’s prices were a lot more reasonable (and even better value than Dixter’s). Seeds seem hard to come by at the moment, with most places offering plants only.

So I’ve now got a few of these plants that are going to flower from now (April) through into summer. Standing about 50 cm tall, the flowers hold themselves above surrounding foliage, floating on fine stems. It’s a great plant for filling in gaps in the border, looking very informal and naturalising well. It prefers poor soil conditions (so it should be really happy in my garden) and full sun (not so easy to come by in my garden).

Planting ideas

Some of the combinations I’ve seen include Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii var. albiflorum with Myosotis scorpioides (Forget-me-nots) where the pink and blue work well together, having similar intensities. Contrarily, with Lunaria annua var. albiflora (white-flowered honesty), it would provide a highlight to the drifts of white.

Needless to say, I’ll be collecting all the seed heads I can from these plants throughout the season, in the hope that I can have even more of them next year.

Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii var. albiflorum at Great Dixter
Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii var. albiflorum at Great Dixter