This glaringly red poppy, Papaver orientalis ‘Allegro’, has been in and out of favour with us since we grew it from seed and planted it in the garden almost thirty years ago. So disgusted did we become with it at one time that we dug it out only for some remaining roots to send up new shoots and it thrived and flowered once again. We even resorted to spraying it with glysophate in hopes of getting rid of it but it shrugged off that attack and continued to grow and flower without fail each year. We have now resigned ourselves that it will be with us unless the day comes that it decides to depart of its own accord.
The foliage emerges very early in spring and makes an attractive background to snowdrops which are planted in front of it. Later, it quickly simply swamps the snowdrops and everything within reach with its generous growth and flambuoyant flowers. We never bother to stake this poppy, though it is inclined to flop, as it seems to look best flopping, more natural and relaxed. When flowering is finished we cut it to the ground and are soon rewarded with fresh growth for the rest of the summer.
As we don’t like this plant, we are inclined to ignore it – a touch of the white elephant in the room – but it was highlighted on two occasions this week which brought it to mind again. A caller to the garden swooned over it, thought it was the most glorious plant she had ever seen and was obviously smitten. This turned me off her immediately.
Then today, we had the most miserable weather with torrential rain and strong winds yet this red thug stood up to everything that was thrown at it and continued hold the flowers up and give its . One has to admire its tenacity at the very least and we have come to accept that it will be part of our garden for the foreseeable future – and we might even come to appreciate it again.