Summer showing for flowers linked to dark days

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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They may be most associated with November and the annual commemoration of those who gave their lives for this country in war on Remembrance Sunday, but the summer months are in fact the best time to see them in bloom.

These poppies growing in a field near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, are a wonderful example of how their flowering period can be seen between June and August.

They are a hardy plant and widespread throughout the English countryside but seeing whole wheat or barley fields stained red with poppies is no longer a common sight.

Although wild field poppies fare well in cultivated, disturbed soil, which is why the scarlet blooms often appear in cornfields, there a couple of reasons behind the decline.

More efficient cleaning methods for cereal seed before it is sown means poppies are no longer dispersed with seed corn, while herbicide use has resulted in more weed-free cereal fields.

But poppies remain common alongside roadside verges and on disturbed ground.

However, since 1997 North and East Yorkshire has benefited from the work of the Cornfield Flowers Project, which aims to protect and multiply the wild plants – including poppies – of arable fields.

Speaking in 2014 to The Yorkshire Post, farmer Chris Wilson explained there had been growing interest in the flower as the centenary of the start of the First World War arrived.

“Some people have asked us if we can provide poppies for commemorative services in November, but I had to tell them the flowers will all be dead by then,” he said. “Poppies are at their best in summer.”

But despite their seasonal blooming, poppies are indelibly associated with the act of remembrance. The first Poppy Appeal was held in 1921, the founding year of The Royal British Legion. Red silk poppies, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, sold out instantly and raised over £106,000. Almost 100 years later, the Poppy Appeal continues to be a major part of national life.

Technical details: Nikon D5 camera, with Nikon DX 12-24mm lens, Shutter Speed 1/640s, Aperture f/7.1, ISO 100.