Poppy Blooms Take Center Stage in Late Spring

Big red poppy bloom with paper-like petals in morning sun.

If you’re a fan of big red poppy flowers, then May is the time to behold them in the local gardens. With their crinkly, paper-like flower petals and bright color, standing tall poppy blooms take center stage. Like a beacon drawing you towards them, they are hard to miss. 

In the local gardens clusters of them grow against a backdrop of large yucca plants which makes them stand out even more. It’s yet another contrast of vibrant colors and textures!

Their Fuzzy, Pod-like Beginnings

Before these poppy bloom showstoppers unfold, they are contained in green, fuzzy, pod-like casings. The white filaments cover the pods and the foliage. Looking at these strange pods (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers), it’s hard to believe that they contain a big red poppy!

Visits to the gardens every few days provides wonderful photo ops of the process of the flowers ultimately bursting through their green casings. It’s quite fascinating to observe. Some even look like they’ve popped their top.

The following photos provide a sequence from green bud to unfolding flower…

Fuzzy green poppy bud with foliage.
Fuzzy, green poppy bud.
Fuzzy green poppy bud with flower about to burst through.
Poppy breaking through green, fuzzy pod casing.
Poppy bloom coming out of pod with purple allium in background.
Poppy flower about to bloom with Allium in background.
Red poppy with fuzzy green bud casing on top.
This poppy popped its top with remnants of its pod casing.

Keeping Colorful Company

Red poppy with purple allium in background.
First poppy bloom of the season!

In the local gardens where these big poppy flower patches grow, they keep colorful company.

While some hang out with the yuccas, others are surrounded by the purple Allium (ornamental onion). These round heads covered with dozens of small star-shaped flowers among the red poppies is quite striking.

In mid-May, one brave poppy burst forth ahead of all the others. It was literally a stand-alone moment. Kind of funny in that it stuck out like a sore thumb – but presented a wonderful photo opportunity.

Two days later we got hit with a snow-storm. Not uncommon for May in CO. Made me so grateful of my timing to photograph it!

Bees Dusted with Purple Pollen

Going deeper into May, poppy bloom abound. They really are something with their purple centers. As such, bees take to the flowers in droves. Sometimes there can be two of even three bees busy on one flower. Observing them always makes me smile. They seem to know just which flower to go to – whereas others they ignore.

Bees dusted with purple pollen from poppy flower.
Two bees hovering over poppy bloom dusted with purple pollen.

I suppose until one truly observes bees they do not realize that their little pollen gathering sacks vary in color. In this case since the pollen from the poppies is purple so is their little sacks!! Who knew?? Furthermore, their little bodies become dusted with purple pollen.

In the photo above, two bees are vying for placement hovering over this poppy. One appears to be outgoing while the other is incoming. It was a busy flower indeed!

Past Their Prime – Bring in the Clowns

In photographing flowers I’m not just interested in the blooms themselves but how they appear when they are “past their prime”. Often what a flower morphs into can be more interesting than the flower itself.

Poppy past its prime looking like a clown head with ruffled collar.
A poppy past its blooming prime looking like a clown head with ruffled collar.

In this case of this poppy bloom transforming, I could not help but think it looked like a clown. It’s center looks like a head and the purple stamens surrounding it look like a ruffled collar on a clown costume. It may be my imagination working overtime, but it made me smile and I’m sticking with it 🙂

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