Big Red Poppies Bloom Vibrantly in Late Spring

Cluster of bright red Oriental poppies.

As the late spring bloom cycle continues into May, big, red Oriental poppies are now on deck. From fuzzy, green bud pods to vibrant blooms, they stand tall for attention in the gardens. Dancing in the morning wind with their tall stems and signature crinkly, paper-like flower petals, these big, red blooms are hard to miss! 

Sharing their space in the xeric gardens with a couple of large resident yucca plants, it’s a contrast of colors and textures for sure. Throw in the still blooming purple Allium and it’s quite a colorful party! 

Bee covered in purple pollen from poppy.
Bee covered in purple pollen from poppy.

Timing with the spring bloom cycles can be everything. And my visits to the gardens this season to photograph these bold colored flowers has been fruitful.

Their early beginnings with fuzzy green bud pods is a sure sign of what’s to come. Then as they break free and pop open from their casing, they unfold into big bright blooms that welcome bees.

Thankfully the poppies did not get hammered with rain as we had last year. So far they’ve been holding their own without any serious rain deluge to damage their fragile petals. With that, I wa able to capture more of a sequence then I’ve had in the past with photographing them. Yay!

The Fuzzy, Green Beginnings of a Poppy Pod

Fuzzy green bud pods.

It’s no secret I love capturing photos of various flowers in their early stages of development. Much like the prickly pear buds and others, poppies have unusual pods they emerge from. They genuinely fascinate me in how they progress into their full flowering state.

Seeing these green, fuzzy bud pods, it’s hard to believe what is contained within them. There’s some serious compression going on within these pods! They do look quite alien and also a bit phallic. But they still make for interesting subject matter to photograph.

Water droplets on fuzzy green buds.
Fuzzy bud with purple fringe.

Poppies Pop Their Top – Literally

Poppy with a fuzzy hat.
Poppy wearing its pod like a fuzzy hat.

The bud pods open at different rates and in different manners. Some split and the casing just falls away. You can see examples of this in the photos below. Sharing these transitions via photos is very interesting – IMHO.

However, some feel the need to step away from the crowd. Like this one who appears to be wearing its spent pod as a fuzzy hat!

I cracked up when I saw this. It was so innocent. It looks like I may have placed its spent pod on top of the flower like a “staged” photo but I did not. Nature was just being Nature and my timing was perfect to see this in action.

Nature can provide some comical moments when you least expect it.

Splitting od about to release flower.
Poppy splitting open from its pod above. And the casing falling away from the newly emerged flower to the right.
Poppy with casing falling below.

Giving Way to Their Crinkly Flower Petals

As the poppies bud casings fall away, the flowers begin to slowly unfold in the morning sun. Their signature crinkly, paper-like petals begin to expand. It’s like time-lapse photography in action because you are right their observing it. Very cool!

Freshly emerged poppy with crinkly petals.
The signature crinkly flower petals of big red poppies.
Crinkly, paper-like flower petals.

Walking away from the emerging flowers then returning a few minutes later there is more transition in their unfolding. It’s like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

Big Red Oriental Poppies in Full Bloom

Side by side red flower blooms.

Well what can you say, these big, red flowers are pretty incredible. In full bloom they are gorgeous. Some of them are quite large with their deep purple centers filled with pollen. From the clusters growing together to some close-ups, it’s easy to take countless photos of these blooming beauties. At some point I have to tell myself to stop – but then there’s just one more photo to take – perhaps an angle I may have missed?

Dark purple centers with crinkly petals.
Vibrant red flower blooms with their dark purple centers.
Vibrant red flower blooms with purple centers.
Close-up of big red Oriental poppy with purple center.
Close-up of the dark purple flower center of an Oriental poppy.

As a herbaceous flowering perennial, they form clumps. They are so bright and vibrant in shades of red. The deep purple flower centers looking like tentacles filled with pollen. Photographing them can be addictive!

Bees Descend on The Purple Pollen-filled Centers

Bee on purple flower center.
Bee gathering pollen on the dark purple center of this bloom.

Bees love these big red poppies. And to see them hovering over these big blooms is quite magical. It’s like they are in slow motion looking for the perfect spot to land. Then it’s all in as they dive in then emerge covered in dark purple pollen. Even the little sacs on their legs are purple!

Bee flying over flower with reflection in petals.
This bee is coming in for a landing. While the bee to the right covered in pollen is making its departure. Both have their reflections in the flower petals!
Bee covered in purple pollen.

Sometimes as they hover over the flowers it looks like they’re taking a breather. Weighted down with so much pollen perhaps they are questioning what to do next?

Purple Poppy Tops

Purple poppy top after petals drop.
Purple poppy top after the flower petals have fallen away.

After the bees have finished foraging and the red petals have fallen away, what’s left? Purple poppy tops! Sitting a top a green pod it looks like a man’s toupée. It’s like a bad hair piece covering a bald spot. Sorry guys, no offense intended.

Purple poppy tops looking like clowns.
Purple poppy heads without flower petals.
Poppy tops looking like clowns with collars and a bee buzzes by above.

In the photo above not only is there the purple top, but what looks like a ruffled clown’s collar. What was once the flower’s center now looks like little cartoon characters. It appears poppies have a comical side. 🙂

If you enjoyed this poppies post, check out these too:
Red Oriental Poppies with Crinkly, Paper-like Petals
Poppy Blooms Take Center Stage in Late Spring


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