Big Red Poppies with Their Paper-like Petals

big red oriental poppy flower

Nothing spells late spring than the explosive blooms of vibrant, big red poppies! With their paper-like looking flower petals, they are a favorite in most spring time gardens. 

Apparently gardeners can choose from annual poppies grown each year from seed or perennial poppies that come back from underground roots each year.  In the case of my photos, they are perennial in nature as they return each year – so you can look forward to their arrival each spring.

Oriental Poppies – A Garden Favorite

big red poppies
Big red poppies in late spring.

Oriental poppies appear to be the fan favorite in the local gardens I frequent. And with their bright red blooms, I can understand why.

By my research:
“Oriental poppies grow a mound of leaves that are hairy and finely dissected in spring. They gather energy and bloom in mid-summer.”

However, in this next of the woods (the western side of Denver by the foothills), they bloom in late spring and are done by early summer.

Regardless of when they bloom, one looks forward to seeing them. And even more so to be able to photograph them.

Weather can still be iffy at times. And with their fragile flower petals, a heavy rain can do some damage.

Alien-looking, Hairy Bud Pods

hairy poppy bud pods
Poppy flower green bud pods.

Before they enter their beautiful, red poppy flower stage, they start out as some pretty funky looking buds.

As seen in the photo, they are these hairy, bristly looking things that look like alien pods. It looks like little green creatures will emerge from the bud pods rather than beautiful red poppy flowers! (My sci-fi side gets the best of me when I see things like this in nature.) 

Thankfully this awkward, ugly-duckling flower phase is temporary.

Eventually the hairy pod casings pop open like a hatching egg. The big red poppies magically emerge and unfold. 

All is right with the flower world!

Eye-Catching and Vibrant Red Poppies

Anyone that has seen these flowers in full bloom can attest to their beauty. At this stage you can really see the crinkly, paper-like look of their flower petals. Sometimes they look fake, but they’re so beautifully real. They stand rather stately with their long stems for all to see as they are hard to miss. People will stop and take photos as it’s hard to resist doing so!

Crinkly, paper-like poppy flower petals
Crinkly, paper-like poppy flower petals.

Bees Drop In and Grasshoppers Too!

People are not the only beings attracted to these glorious red poppy flowers. They catch the attention of bees for sure. Dropping in for pollination, they can be seen buzzing around the red oriental poppy’s dark purple flower center. After observing the bees, I noticed that the little pollen sacs on their legs were the same color as the purple flower center. Who knew? Had no idea about that – so a pretty cool discovery. 

Bee hovering over big red poppy flower.
Bee hovering over big red poppy flower.
Green grashopper with head poking out of red poppy flower.
Green grasshopper poking out of red poppy.

Bees are not the only critters hanging about on the poppies.

On one morning, I saw this cute little green grasshopper with his head poking out of the flower.

Knowing how skittish they can be I did my best to keep still without trying to scare him off with my camera. I can only imagine what humans must look like to them.

Patience paid off. In just the right moment I was able to catch a photo of the little fella. It’s almost like the little guy was saying: “I’m ready for my close-up Mr Demille”.

Photography is full of impromptu moments – which can make it all the more fun!

After the Bloom…

This season I was able to gain yet another perspective of these flowers. Perhaps it was timing or just stopping to take notice at yet another phase of a poppy flower’s evolution. As a fan of various flower transformations, these idid not disappoint.

The petal-less poppy tops are what I nick-named them. It was more by accident that I stopped to take photos of the flowers in this state. Something about them was so cool and strange looking. The purple Allium blooming around them made for an interesting contrast and also drew me in.

petalless popy tops
Petal-less poppy tops.

It’s when I got home and looked at the photos on my computer that I could appreciate them further. Without the flower petals, the poppy tops reminded my of clowns. It made me think of a clown costume with its ruffled collar. And the tops made me think of colorful wigs worn by clowns.

Maybe my left brain was working overtime with said visual interpretation of these petal-less poppy tops – but I’m going with it 🙂

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