Red Oriental Poppies with Crinkly, Paper-like Petals

Big red Oriental poppies with fuzzy green bud pods.

Who doesn’t like the sight of red Oriental poppies springing up in gardens? Around here they begin to make their appearance mid to later in May. With their tall stems, signature crinkly and paper-like flower petals, these beautiful, big, red blooms are hard to miss.

In the xeriscape gardens I frequent for many of the photos, these poppies keep interesting company. They are often blooming alongside purple Allium (ornamental onion flowers) and some resident big Yucca plants. It makes for wonderful contrasts of colors and textures. I know this trait is mentioned with other flowers but it really is worth noting. The results can be some very unusual photos!

This May was incredibly wet! I mean on record, the wettest May in nearly a decade! According to one of the local news websites “It was the most rain in a month since the September 2013 floods.” As someone who experienced the September 2013 floods firsthand, this much rain around here is worth noting! 

Needless to say, some of the poppies that bloomed during these rain storms some showed the impact of these spring deluges.

A Poppy’s Fuzzy, Green Beginnings

Fuzzy green poppy pod with poppy in background.
Green, fuzzy poppy pod with bloom in background.

I’ve taken quite a fascination with certain flowers unusual beginnings. To date, I’ve written about flower transformations such as Pasque after they’ve bloomed.

But these red Oriental poppies, like Allium and Foxtail Lilies perplex me. How they progress and evolve into their full flowering state is so unique.

So this season, admittedly, I took a lot of photos of Oriental poppy buds. What can I say, I love the fuzzy, green pods!

Again I must defer to the mention of something out of a sci-fi movie. I’ve referenced “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” before given the strange look of these pods.  But it really is amazing to observe the evolution from fuzzy, green bud pod to full flower bloom…

The gallery of photos below shows the progression. I even found a popped pod on the ground!

Big red poppies starting to open with yucca plant in background.
These poppies have graduated from buds and are just about to open.

In the photo above, the poppies have graduated and erupted from their contained bud state. Their crinkly flower petals are clearly visible. One of the big resident Yucca plants even offers an interesting backdrop of textures.

Big Red Blooms with Crinkly, Paper-like Flower Petals

Big red poppy blooms with purple centers.
A big red Oriental poppy with its signature crinkly flower petals.

I’d say the signature texture of their flower petals sets them apart from other flowers. The crinkly, paper-like appearance of them literally looks crumpled tissue paper. They are so bright and vibrant in the shades of red-orange. The deep purple flower centers filled with pollen that eventually lures foraging bees.

As a herbaceous flowering perennial, they form clumps. In the xeriscape gardens there are several prevalent poppy clumps/patches. Some nestled within the company of purple Allium. And others (as seen in the photos of pods above) with the big Yucca plants as a back-drop.

Early mornings present the best opportunities to photograph them. This is when the wind is still calm as by later in the morning they begin to sway with the breeze. Not ideal for photo ops! 

Welcoming to Bees

It should come as no surprise that bees love poppies! Who can resist these gorgeous flowers – their deep purple centers ripe with fresh pollen. It’s a bounty for bees indeed! Watching them hover over a bloom as they select the best spot. As in the photo below, you can see how they literally become dusted with purple pollen. The sacks on their legs full and their little bee-butts dusted purple.

Bee gathering pollen from poppy's purple center.
A honey bee gathering pollen on this poppy’s deep purple center.

Yes, I do get up close and personal with these moments. It’s part and partial to what makes it so magical. I’m grateful not to disturb these hovering foragers as they allow me to briefly capture their world with my camera 🙂

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