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ELUSIVE AZURE AND FRUIT

Too Hot Here For These Gems, But Maybe I Can Trick Them

   It was decades ago that Norman — gardener, orchid expert, one-time cattle farmer, and lawyer — described to me his first sighting of blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia. He was traveling in England, and at this particular garden was a pond whose far side was electrified by the sky blue petals of blue poppy, perhaps the purest blue of any flower. The mirrored surface of the water stepped up the voltage, as do the frilly clusters of golden anthers trembling in the center whorls of petals.    Since then, I’ve lusted for blue poppies but have yet to see the plant in bloom. Twice I tried to grow it, from seed. Each time the seedlings germinated and got off to a good start. Each time, in July, as temperatures here started to get steamy, the plants collapsed, dead. …

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