Germany’s ‘Flower of the Year’ 2017: the Field Poppy

Each autumn the Loki Schmidt Foundation in Germany announces the flower they have chosen as ‘Flower of the Year’. I was pleased to hear that for 2017 it will be Papaver rhoeas, the Common Poppy, or Field Poppy as I know it.


We are fortunate to see it growing wild in corn fields and around the edges of agricultural land near us. But in some regions it has all but died out. The intense use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, along with other modern technology in farming methods, mean the conditions no longer exist in which this wild flower can colour our fields and roadsides.

A couple of years ago this was the view just beyond our garden gate.


Not just poppies, but sweet peas, chamomile and cornflowers were mixed in with the crop.

And this summer several farmers started sowing strips of wild flowers along the edges of their crop fields to encourage wild bees and other pollinators, insects and wildlife. This is subsidized by the EU – I only wish they would offer subsidies for NOT deep plowing, fertilising, and spraying chemicals or slurry on the land year in year out!

The idea of this Flower of the Year campaign, called ‘Blume des Jahres’ in German, is to draw attention to the plight of certain flowers which are slowly becoming endangered in our countryside. I hope it helps with awareness, as it would be tragic to lose more of our beautiful wild flowers.

Which wild flower would you miss most of all? The poppy perhaps?

45 thoughts on “Germany’s ‘Flower of the Year’ 2017: the Field Poppy

  1. A sight to make the heart sing! How wonderful to have that view. The red really sings out. The poppy is a favourite of mine. My grandparents had a farm and the fields were like that. Literally packed full of quaking grass, lilac lady’s smock and yellow buttercups. They were water meadows that flooded every winter. In summer I would pick armfuls if the flowers for my grandmother and they would be lovingly arranged in vases at home. Such a happy memory. It’s my ambition to plant a wildflower meadow at home. We’ve made a start with our lawns which no longer have fertiliser and weedkiller treatments. They are awash with wild violets and primroses just three years after stopping the treatments.

    • Our garden would mostly be a wild flower meadow if we let it grow, but we have to mow at least part of it as ticks are such a problem here, and with a dog…. One thing that doesn’t seem to like our soil here is primroses though. I can imagine that must be a lovely sight in spring with primroses and violets together! Unfortunately that view behind our garden is not every year, but one year the farmer sowed only sunflowers. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • There is still hope, and these EU subsidies are some of the most useful I have heard of… I will have to get some photos of those field edges next spring and write about it!

  2. I canยดt imagine a world without poppies. I would miss blue cornflowers. Do you know paintings of the painter Emil Nolde (German Expressionsm)? He is famous for his poppies.

  3. What a sight for sore eyes! I’m with Dorris, the growing colonies of wild orchids in the rough grass are special treasures. As you say, a few changes in the way we garden/manage meadowland can make such a difference.

    • Yes, and on a small scale it can be a huge help too. I hope the flower strips around the edges of crop fields will take off, as they are being given lots of support with regionally specialized seed made available to the farmers.

  4. Over here, many communities have taken to planting wild flowers along our highways. This is especially true in Texas and the practice has created tourism. And speaking of Milkweed, six states from the Midwest to Texas has created the Monarch Butterfly Highway, planting flowers to help the Monarchs make their trip to Mexico. Hopefully, this practice will continue in the US and Germany and spread around the world.

    • That is good news! The Monarch Butterfly Highway sounds like an excellent idea and I hope it helps the numbers of butterflies increase. I shall have to get some photos of the edges of the fields next spring and write about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love poppies and am very lucky to usually have thousands flowering in fields near us. Not any more on the fields where the intensive farming is now taking place as he uses too much spray!

    • I remember you showing photos of wild flower meadows and poppy fields, so it is especially sad that the farmers are spraying. They spray here too in places, but the poppies are resilient little plants and still manage to ‘pop’ up. So I hope you get a surprise next spring. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I wonder if this poppy is the same as the one mentioned in the Wizard of OZ (written by Frank Baum). Did you read that book? Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion fell asleep in a field of poppies. It was up to the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow to drag them out of that aromatic field! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I love this poppy, which is iconic to Europe in my mind. We don’t have wild poppies here in the NE US, but I love the ones in my garden. Wildflowers are worth preserving. Glad farmers are starting to have native strips, the idea is slowly sparking here. Farmers generally aren’t too quick to embrace change. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I do love poppies. The California poppy is a wildflower I absolutely adore. The last few years have been hard on the wildflowers because of our lack of rain. But not long ago I came across some poppies growing wild, deeper in color than the orange of the California poppy. I took photos of them and they made me so happy I enlarged the photo and have it hanging in my bedroom. I smile every time I wake to see it! I love the way Germany chooses a particular flower to highlight and call attention to it as one way to aid in its protection. Environmental conditions and farming technology has really created havoc for so many of our flowering species. How wise to think that farmers are bringing back strips of pollinating flowers. We are all just trying to understand the consequences of some of our decisions, aren’t we? Lovely poppies, Cathy!

    • I love your orange poppies too, and have occasionally managed to grow some. It must be wonderful to see them in the fields – they are uplifting, and I quite understand why you had that photo enlarged!
      Time will tell if these strips of wildflowers have a long-term effect on the recovery of our wild bees – I fear it is just a whimsical trend that will fade out if not pushed further with subsidies and benefits for the farmers. My grandfather was a market gardener and I am sure he would be sorry to see how things have developed over the past 20 years or so.

    • Thanks Amelia. The annual wild flower is a nice idea and I am sure it has some (limited) impact with campaigns such as postage stamps and calendars on sale, but it gets nowhere near enough publicity!

  9. We only see the red poppy when a farmer has missed spraying herbicide on part of the field. The problem is millers do not what poppy seed in with the wheat. Although bakers will scatter a few on the top of a loaf.

    • Isn’t it a shame that the poppies are disappearing from the countryside. I remember the smell of them as a child when we walked through the corn fields, crushing the unfurling petals between our fingers… with no fear of chemical sprays in those days!

  10. I love the red poppies and I’m enamored with the idea of farmers planting flowers along the edges for all our pollinators. Perhaps this is a first step forward. With our president-elect, I’m not feeling terribly hopeful about environmental progress in the next few years, but I refuse to give up hope. xo

    • Well, I am a born skeptic, but I also hope the farmers will continue this new idea even if the subsidies are reduced in future. It has made everyone smile around here. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Smiling is good. And no doubt, the farmers will see the real benefits and will continue to do this without subsidies. It reminds me of programs that used to pay people to quite smoking. Obviously quitting is good for everyone, but if it takes a bit of cash to motivate you then I’m all for it. Everyone benefits in the end.

  11. A lovely piece and a very worthy cause. Poppies are all too often associated with doom and gloom and I think that anything that portrays them in their natural light is a worthwhile enterprise. I love to see them wherever I go.

    • I think that doom and gloom association is more prominent in Britain and France than here, don’t you? I just have happy memories of poppies from my childhood, playing among them in cornfields that were tall enough to hide in. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Absolutely. The doom and gloom is very much a British thing although the Chinese are very suspicious of them for historical reasons. I like the way they pop up when you least expect it (no pun intended!) wherever you are out and about. The paper poppies can never replicate that shade of red ๐Ÿ™‚

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