Perhaps it was the fact that we had all been cooped up too long over this cold, hard, seemingly interminable winter or that few of us had seen a flower anywhere outside of a grocery store in more than six months, but the throng of photographers that descended on Longwood this morning was beyond crazy.
That said, I do not regret that I was one of them.
Like a drug addict who had been denied his fix for too long, the second I knelt down before those exquisite, exotic beauties, I once again felt that familiar, sugar-sweet rush of horticultural happiness blitz through my photographer’s veins like crack cocaine.
Its very existence was long disputed, in the same way as was that of the Yeti, another mythical Himalayan native.
In the early twentieth century, sightings were reported and quickly denounced. A blue poppy? Who had ever heard of such a thing? Poppies are always red, surely.
But, in the late spring of 1922, a British Himalayan expedition, led by legendary mountaineer George Mallory, discovered the plant on their failed attempt to reach the summit of the as yet unconquered Mount Everest.
As a result, the mythical flower was finally introduced to the outside world amid great excitement at London’s Royal Horticultural Society show in 1926.
Thus has grown the legend of the blue poppy. Little wonder, then, that some of us are willing to drive hundreds of miles to photograph this fabled flower. To photograph these delicate beauties in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States is an unmissable opportunity.
Longwood Gardens force their blue poppies to flower every year in March and they last for only two weeks.
The poppies themselves are large flowers, about four inches in diameter, with languid, generous petals of a deep, mesmerizing sky blue colour.
The combination of cool (blue) and warm (orange) colours in a single flower makes the blue poppy an obvious favourite with photographers, who will go to extraordinary lengths to find such a fortuitous combination of colours.
I’m glad I did so this morning.
(click on an image to enlarge it)