P71213+K1Not just any poppies; California poppies, the state flower of California.

So why the picture of an old cinder block wall on the edge of an unkempt and weathered parking lot behind the old County Bank Building? Well, right there in the middle of the picture, where the lowest course of block meets the edge of the pavement are a few weeds, and some of these weeds are poppies showing how resilient they can be.

California poppies are opportunistic. They grow fast and bloom when they can. For most, that means that they bloom as the weather starts to warm up at the end of winter. For others in irrigated gardens, they can bloom in phases through summer. Some do their thing quickly as soon as they get a bit of moisture from the first autumn rains or even dew. They know what time of year it is, and that the weather will not likely get hot enough to cook them; so they bloom and throw their seed for another generation in a few more months, or maybe many months from now. They adapt. That is how they live on the edges of forests of the Santa Cruz Mountain, to interior valley chaparral, to the Mojave Desert. They are a remarkable specie.

Remember the poppies in the Wizard of Oz? There are several theories about what those poppies represent, and why the put Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and Toto to sleep without affecting Scarecrow and TinMan. Duh, Scarecrow and TinMan do not breath. They can not inhale the narcotic produced by the poppies. Even if they did, they lack the physiology to be susceptible to opiates.

There is a significance to poppies blooming today, the same day I wrote about the gingko, on December 13; but this ain’t Oz.P71213+K2

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16 thoughts on “Poppies

    1. No, I have never seen it; nor have I ever heard of anyone else mentioning it! One of my old colleagues owns a parcel out in Antelope Valley near there. I have not even been to Lancaster since the late 1980s, when it was still a rather small city.

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      1. It’s worth a visit — a county park honoring poppies and lupines. In a good year, it’s truly spectacular. There’s a road that leads roughly east/west from Gorman to Lancaster, along which one side of the park edges the road. Quite a wonderful day trip!

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    1. For California poppies, orange is still the best. When I was a kid, we used to look for the light purple poppies. It was like looking for a four leaf clover, except that they stood out better against all the orange. They were very rare. White was even more rare. Now that breeders have developed white, yellow, red, lavender and double flowered varieties, the straight orange are still best.

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  1. Oh, I do so love California poppies and you see them here in spring. I seem to recall (I’ll check later) that there is a native Texas version of that pretty orange, but I think most folks still go with the Cal version!

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    1. They are crazy pretty when they get the chance They are mostly crowded out by exotics in the wild. They are still spectacular where they survive, especially in the desert. Of course, they can be grown in the garden too

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  2. Last Spring I planted some California poppy seeds that I got at the San Diego Botanic Gardens a few years earlier (I know, not native here). Actually I debated as to whether I should plant them, because they are exotic here. I had some space in the garden, and my lady friend who loves California poppies is a former resident of L.A. They did well, and they didn’t spread. All in all, it was a good experiment.

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    1. Although they are prolific and resilient, they do not often become invasive. One thing they do not do well is compete with other specie. That is why they are less common in the wild than they used to be.

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