Grow Your Own Enchanted Garden

If you love a challenge, Himalayan Blue Poppies of the genus Meconopsis can be the basis for a garden of other-worldly beauty.

My Finnish friend Iida, who confesses to failing to grow these famously difficult flowers from seed—adds that “you can see these wonderful pseudo-poppies in many Finnish gardens.”

Seedlings, she says, need “a cool and deep shady place.” She tells me they need “stratification” by which I think she means a layered bed.

And, if you are determined to grow them from seed, you absolutely must cut off any buds in the first year —snipping them with ruthless determination, or the baby plant will perish from the effort of blossoming. They must put all their nascent energy into putting down roots for the next season.

The featured photograph shows a garden of Meconopsis blossoms grown indoors at Longwood Gardens. I like to picture the British mountaineer Thomas Leigh Mallory encountering such an enchanted Garden on the slopes of Mt. Everest.

How on earth he kept them alive on his way back to England in 1922 remains a mystery to me. If you happen to know—or can even make an educated guess—please leave a comment, or email me at

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