Welsh Poppy: Meconopsis cambrica

Published: May 20, 2024


Welsh Poppy 2

I recall in the early 1980s when I started my professional horticultural career as a nurseryman, admiring the Welsh Poppies from the glasshouses, colonising the grass areas that surrounded the acres of glasshouse on the east side of the Arreton Valley on the Isle Of Wight.

With no mow May in mind, it’s great to see such a proliferation this year of the Welsh Poppy: Meconopsis cambrica. ( Papaveraceae) native to Western Europe, height 30 – 60 cm. Certainly along the roadside verges in South Cumbria, this yellow flowering delight is more prolific this year than ever before! 

As a result, and with the environment in mind, this prolific self-seeder is naturalising well within the spaces of many gardens.  More than ever this year in our Cottage garden, and the Lakeside garden where I’m Head Gardener. I keep records of wildflower species that colonise within the garden environment for a monograph for the Wildflower Society. 

Meconopsis cambrica is a good source of nectar for bees and other insects from May until August, and the large overlapping four-petalled flowers on each perianth are the ideal landing pads/stations for these insects.

Welsh Poppy

This captivating hardy perennial will self-seed and colonise into the nooks and crannies of walls and stony areas and will diversify into damp shady spots under trees, and garden borders, as well as being that all too familiar sight along the roadside verges. 

I’ve recently been undertaking some research in relation to the increase in flower proliferation of Meconopsis cambrica, its proliferation and growth patterns of which are greater in the north of the UK, and of which follow a denser pattern on the West side of the country. 

The status of this perennial is native and naturalised. Looking at temperature records through more recent winters, (drop in temperatures) coupled with an increase in seed proliferation later in the season, this combined formula triggers an increase in germination rates, and cold –  stratification! We may liken this to various hardy perennials that are cultivated within the garden. 

I’m currently focusing on pruning and plant tropism for ( Hort Week) how this relates to auxins (plant hormones) and cold temperatures, and the result on flower bud proliferation. There’s a lot more going on than we care to realise within our changing climate and environmental conditions. This can be broken down into multi-faceted areas of horticulture, but whereas gardeners/ horticulturists,  we are merely scratching the surface! 

All that aside. It’s great to see the Welsh Poppy doing so well this year, from verges, hedgerows, waste ground, rocky areas, and naturalising well into the garden environment!

Kevin Line is Head Gardener/ Horticulturist, Lakeside Hotel Garden,  Cumbria, Freelance Garden Adviser, FSC. Kevin writes for Hort Week industry magazine, and on the analysis section of the Hort Week Website, and has worked in the industry for 44 years.