As spring slipped into summer 2013, I was lucky enough to be in Scotland. Perhaps, we should rename it the "Land of Meconopsis"? Ian Christie's fabulous nursery is there, all but hidden in a little town called Kirriemuir. After a relaxed full Scottish breakfast I set out from Edinburgh adjacent in the morning along winding roads that abutted farms. Before long I arrived in a wink-of-an-eye-town: don't blink or you will miss it. The drive through lasted less than a minute. After reversing my steps a couple of times I had to call. Ian is hidden from even Google Maps. This has likely happened before as he himself came out to direct me down the lane. What a fabulous sight: meconopsis in all shades of blue floating adrift over a demure landscape. Who knew blue might come in so many different shades, like a Pantone booklet.
The day was quite gray and overhung, but seeing these beauties lifted the spirits and put a twinkle in the view. Ian is a well known plant guru for several rare species. And meconopsis seem to have captivated him for some time now. The beds there hold probably every known cultivar.
Meconopsis in the shade house
These plants Ian meticulously maintains by division, which he sells to the fortunate gardeners. I did notice the soil was quite rich. Immediately I began to calculate how I might grow them. They would have no problem with the wet cool days of New England, but would need extra water and shade during our (new) overheated dog days of summer. (Hey, if kabs can make it, why not meconopsis?)
What surprised me most was the color variation. Yes there is even an alba form. Next I noticed differences in the size, from salad plate size to handful. Thinking it over - given a century of hybrids or cultivars, I see how everyone got to choose. I wonder how many medals it took. Was it an annual event - to see what next in meconopsis winners?
One thing for sure - meconopsis are hearty eaters. Yes the soil was quite remarkable: rich, friable and deep. Years of composted leaves turned the clay to brown gold. Seems, though, from the banter as we walked along, that they would be indiscriminate as to the type of compost. Made me think vegetable beds soil. Where can I squeeze some in?
Although blue cultivars predominated, the red of punicea was pretty dazzling too. Of course I shall have to try it at home too. What a red!