Archive for January, 2015
Here is the story of the enchanting Himalayan Blue Poppy. It begins in 1924 in Tibet, where the renowned plant explorer Frank Kingdon-Ward came upon “a stream of blue poppies, dazzling as sapphires in the pale light.” The flower was introduced to cultivation, but always thought very difficult to grow. The author debunks this myth and gives hope to the common gardener, that they, too, can enjoy this bloom.
Meconopsis betonicifolia, also known as Meconopsis baileyi and the Himalayan blue poppy, was first noted in 1886 by Pere Delavay a French Catholic missionary. In the late spring of 1922, a British Himalayan expedition, led by legendary mountaineer George Leigh Mallory, discovered the plant on their failed attempt to reach the summit of the then-unconquered Mount Everest. The specimen was collected by Lt. Col. Frederick Marshman Bailey. Pressed into a notebook, the quality of the specimen was not excellent but it still created great interest in England.The flowers were introduced to much excitement at the Royal Horticultural Society’s spring show of 1926. In 1924, Frank Kingdon-Ward, the explorer and plant collector, brought back the first viable seed and, in 1927, it was displayed at horticultural shows and there were large plantings in public parks in London and Edinburgh. However, since they have been difficult to grow, the species has become fabled over the decades.
Iron Gate from Maison Geschwindammer, Nancy, France, built by Henri Gutton & Joseph Hornecker in 1905
LK Bennett sheath dress with blue poppy print, worn by The Duchess of Cambridge in 2014.
In the late spring of 1922, a British Himalayan expedition, led by legendary mountaineer George Leigh Mallory, discovered the plant on a failed attempt to reach the summit of the then-unconquered Mount Everest. During the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine both disappeared on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. Mallory’s ultimate fate was unknown for 75 years, until his body was discovered on 1 May 1999 by an expedition that had set out to search for the climbers’ remains.
Try growing Blue Poppies in your garden!