In Flander's Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.
Oh poppies, how I love thee!
White, pink, gold but most especially the scarlet. I'm not sure any other flower looks quite as beautiful from bud to bloom to setting seed. I love them, their wild weediness, and pale, frond-like leaves. I love the strange hairy, deeply nodding buds that straighten up on their stems before opening blowsily into blooms of violent red, crimson crepe petals and night black centers, flamboyant as flamenco skirts.
I love the way the blossoms fade and the petals fall away leaving the green seedpod with its velvet striped cap and a skirt of dark, drooping stamens. I love the stark beauty of the seedpods straight against the sky, their delicate architecture and the promising dry rattle of the tiny round seeds which fall from the pods like pepper from a fairy sized shaker.
They always seem to me to be half magical, loaded with stories, symbolism and legend. And yet somehow oblivious to it all - weedy yet elegant, ephemeral yet triumphant. Unlikely, insouciant, harlot queens of late spring.