Poppies — By County Agent Jennifer Miller

Poppies
As we observe Veterans Day we remember all of those who have given their lives in war.
This past week I took some time to look at the Veterans Memorial here by my office. The memorial looks amazing. Over the last few months I have seen it transformed. All those involved with the project here in Jeff Davis County should be proud of what they have put together. As I saw many things posted on Veterans Day I came across one thing that I had never seen or read; the poem “In Flanders Field” written by John McCrae. I have always seen poppies associated with Veterans and memorials but I did not know why.
In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
McCrae was a surgeon in 1915 during World War I for the Allied forces. He was inspired to write the poem after his good friend was killed by the Germans. The battlefields were often dotted with poppies, which grew wild as weeds in that part of the world. His poem is a testament to the fact that wars ravage, destroy and leave scars on men and landscape.
I have never seen poppies growing here so I wondered what type of poppies grow in France that inspired this poem.
The flowers are common or field poppies, Papaver rhoeas. You may see field poppy in mixes of wildflowers. So what type of poppy grows best here? I was surprised to see they are listed in the UGA Publication: Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens. There are a couple of different types you can grow here: Eschsholzia californica (California poppy), Papaver nudicale (Iceland Poppy), Papaver rhoeas (Shirley poppy also sometimes called Flanders Poppy).
These poppies are excellent annuals for naturalizing. Seeds are usually sown in late fall or early spring for early blooms. Many colors are available. As you grow poppies of your own I hope they inspire you to honor those fallen in war and remind you how blessed we are to live in such a great country.
If you have further questions on agriculture or natural resources please contact me, Jennifer Miller, at the Jeff Davis County Extension Office: 912-375-6648. Or visit us online at: http://extension.uga.edu/county-offices/jeffdavis.html or subscribe to the Plow Points Ag Blog: http://blog.extension.uga.edu/plowpoints/

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