Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welsh poppies

click photo to enlarge
A few years ago I asked some primary school children to tell me the names of the flowers that they knew. Collectively they came up with quite a few, both cultivated and wild, but individually they knew fewer than I imagined. One of the flowers that virtually all of the children wrote in their list was the poppy. I think three things make the poppy well-known - the distinctive shape and colour (red), the frequency with which it is used in decorative designs, and the fact that the British Legion sell small, man-made poppies around the time of Remembrance Sunday each November to raise funds. A fourth reason might be the frequency with which they can be seen invading cereal crops and the fact that some farmers now grow whole fields of them.

My garden has large, showy poppies coming into bloom as I write this blog post. They are mostly red/orange in colour, but I know that a dusky pink variety will open soon too. However, it isn't these poppies that I like best in my garden: my favourites are the small, yellow Welsh poppies that have been in bloom for a couple of weeks, their delicate heads bending in the wind, opening in the sun, and closing towards evening. This variety of poppy grows wild in Britain, often favouring damp or rocky places, though it is also grown for use in the garden too. There is an orange variant of the species, and my photographs today show both kinds. When I was growing up in the Yorkshire Dales these poppies were a very common sight, and they remain so in that area today. This is probably because, on the whole, they favour locations that are not intensively farmed.

The yellow poppies above were photographed this year in my garden with the dark backdrop of a conifer helping to emphasise the sun on their petals. I photographed the orange poppies last year when I found them growing in the shelter of Carboniferous limestone cliffs and clints and grykes on Giggleswick Scars, North Yorkshire.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 218mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On