Rare blue-poppy springs into action, but only for a short time at Longwood Gardens
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the description of Shannon Still.
Vegeta from the anime “Dragon Ball-Z” could’ve been thinking about Longwood Gardens when he screamed his famous line: “It’s over 9,000!” Because that describes the stunning number of species and varieties on display in Longwood’s garden collection.
Currently, a rare flower in bloom at Longwood Gardens is the blue-poppy (Meconopsis “Lingholm”), which will only be on display through the first week of April. Only once a year, for about 10 to 15 days, can you see this dazzling sky-blue gem in bloom at Longwood.
“Blue is also very rare in nature — biologists have estimated that fewer than 10% of flowering plants have blue flowers and even fewer have truly blue leaves,” Abbey Gau, marketing and communications specialist for Longwood, said to Delaware Online/The News Journal.
“This is because the blue coloration of flowers is something of an anomaly since blue pigments in plants do not actually exist,” Gau said.
Longwood's research team became interested in raising the blue-poppy when a graduate student, Shannon Still, was writing his thesis on the plant in 2002, Gau said.
Blue-poppies are native to high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains and they’re usually not cultivated outside their natural habitat.
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Longwood uses a growing technique to force the blue-poppies to flower every year in March. The cultivar, “Lingholm,” produces large flowers that average 4 inches in diameter. “Meconopsis” is the genus of the rare flower.
The blue-poppy is so unusual it was once considered a myth. But you can catch this fabled flower in action if you visit Longwood soon. And if you can’t, you also can marvel at your screen as you read this story.
More than 200,000 tulips in new display
Another sight to see at Longwood is in the Main Conservatory that’s brimming with vibrant colors as jasmine, anemones, lilies and hydrangeas take center stage in the “Spring Blooms” display, ending May 2.
During peak bloom — expected in mid-April, and weather permitting — Longwood’s 600-foot long Flower Garden Walk features more than 200,000 tulips and other seasonal blooms in all their glory.
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In the Idea Garden, a combination of pink, peach and yellow tulips are complemented by a touch of blue flowering bulbs. In the Ornamental Kitchen Garden, spring vegetables — peas, broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, spinach, carrots, radishes, scallions, cilantro, and lettuce — begin to take form.
Guests also can soak in Longwood’s inviting and expansive Meadow Garden as Carolina silverbells, Eastern redbuds, flowering dogwoods and azaleas spring into beauty.
As if that weren’t enough, “Spring Blooms” will end in a flowery bang.
“In late April, we will be planting over 200 foxgloves throughout the Flower Garden Walk, which adds a whimsical element to the display with their eye-catching tubular blooms,” Gau said.
Go: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Monday. Admission is $25 adults; $22 seniors (Ages 62); $22 college students (with ID); $18 active or retired U.S. military or U.S. vet (with valid ID); $13 youth (ages 5-18); Free children (ages 4 and under). longwoodgardens.org; (610) 388-1000