PlantTherapy: Poppies Shine through Winter

PlantTherapy: Poppies Shine through Winter

Maxwell Ryan
Feb 24, 2007

If you were to live in the countryside and had neighbors that grew flowers, you might share with each other the cuttings from your own garden. In passing along a share of the day's harvest you might also pass along the advice on how to best keep them, ensuring that your hard work could be enjoyed in the vase for more than a day.

In the city, this is a rare exchange, but a good florist should have advice when you bring home something special.

I was so happy to see two buckets of beautiful (and fragrant!) poppies at my florist this week. Poppies are delicate flowers which have fleeting lives in the garden, and can go even quicker once in a vase. Poppy stems contain sap that feeds the flower. It will drain out quickly once cut and placed in a vase of water, so a flame is used to close up the bottom of the stem and prevent the sap from draining. When you buy poppies take a look at the stem bottom and you will most likely see that they have no black hairs and have taken on a dark green color from being singed. If you give yours a fresh cut you will need to seal them off again, otherwise they will be limp within a day.

We have enjoyed these beautiful flowers for the past five days. They come to the bedroom at night and follow us to the kitchen in the morning. They radiate warmth, and we cannot stop looking at their many details. Sometimes conversation will stop as one of use is caught looking into their centers.

Poppies are at once large and brilliant, but are reduced to nothing once they have decided to die. What remains causes one to barely believe that an enormous, vibrant flower once stood in the same spot. I was once shown how to gild by a restorationist friend, a man who spent many decades restoring churches throughout Europe. He pulled out his simple tools from an old case along with a small pack of gold leaf sheets. With his expert hand guiding a small knife, he took the glowing top sheet and transported it through the air. He wove the knife back and forth, the gold sheet fluttering delicately before steering it to rest perfectly flat on the table surface. And then, with a flourish, he crumpled the brilliant sheet, causing it to vanish.

matt at apartmenttherapy dot com

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