Poppies at Gressenhall

There are lots of poppies at Gressenhall, Scott Tampin, Heritage Gardening Trainee has been researching them.

The Poppy is a flowering plant of the family Papaverceae and many varieties can be found flowering all over the farm and workhouse site at this time of year. Ornamental Poppies are grown for their colourful flowers and some varieties are used in many cuisines around the world including European, Indian and Jewish. Some varieties produce a powerful medicinal alkaloid opium which has been used since ancient times to create analgesic and narcotic medicinal.

Poppies have long been a symbol of sleep, peace and death. Sleep because of the opium extracted from them, death because of the common blood red colour of the red ones in particular. In Greek and Roman myths time poppies were used as offerings to the dead and decorated tombstones. The bright scarlet colour also signifies resurrection from death in classical mythology. A magical poppy field threatens to make the heroes sleep forever in the novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. The poppy appears on the back of a Macedonian bank note and is part of the republics coat of arms. The Canadian Mint in 2004 became the first producer in the world of a coloured coin in circulation and featured a poppy on its reverse.

During the First World War much trench warfare took place in the fields of Flanders and since then poppies have become a symbol of remembrance for those soldiers who died in the conflict and many others since. The California poppy, Eschscholzia californica is the state flower of California. Many have said that at one time the poppy should have been the county flower of Norfolk, but this has been abandoned due to the remembrance movement.

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