The lovely Iceland Poppy, Papaver nudicaule, is a garden favourite well known to ancient Greeks and Egyptians. In Switzerland the flowers were used to tell the future.
A petal was placed in the palm of the left hand and quickly smacked with the right.
If the petal burst with a popping sound reminiscent of a kiss upon the cheek this signified that a lover’s affections were sincere. No popping sound meant the affair was heading for the compost heap.
During Medieval times a gift of bright red, orange and yellow poppies was said to cheer or console someone in low spirits.
These sweetly scented Arctic perennials are still considered a great antidote to depression by many gardeners as they are often the most colourful and beautiful cut flowers in the winter and early spring garden.
For a cheerful display established seedlings should be planted now in a sunny, sheltered spot. Perfectly drained, light loam and sandy soils are best.
Transplant carefully, giving each plant plenty of room. Pick the nodding buds just as they raise their heads and begin to show colour.
To keep them from wilting plunge the cut stems Into a few centimetres of near boiling water for a minute. Soon the buds will pop open like emerging butterflies eager to brighten the most depressing day.
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