shirley poppies

June 14, 2015

The Shirley poppy was ‘created’ circa 1880 by the Reverend William Wilks, vicar of the parish of Shirley in England.  Rector Wilks found in a corner of his garden where it adjoined arable fields, a variant of the field poppy that had a narrow white border around the petals.


By careful selection and hybridization over many years The Rev. Wilks obtained a strain of poppies ranging in colour from white and pale lilac to pink and red, and unlike the wild poppies these had no dark blotches at the base of the petals. (source:, photo credit:


‘Shirley Poppies’, watercolour, Bockingford Cold Press 140# Paper, 15cm x 20cm (6″ x 8″), sold

THEY HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS with the Remembrance Day poppy, worn in lapels all over Canada and the U. K. in the early days of November onwards through to the 11th, post-memorial cenotaph services, where, in Canada’s capital, people place their poppy on The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before departing.

13 Responses to “shirley poppies”

  1. A marvelous watercolor!


  2. Thank you Alexandra, and I am happy we’re both painting these blowy, diaphanous, ruffled tissues that make everyone smile.


  3. Alexandra said

    I enjoyed learning a bit more about poppies as I love them and enjoy painting them myself! Of course, I painted the version yesterday with dark area at the stem. Lovely painting of yours and great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. so appreciated, cynthia–these blooms always take us to every summer we ever lived, don’t they just.


  5. I have to echo all the other commenters…these are so lovely. And the decision to show just the blooms…no greenery, no background, is perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wonderful to receive this from you and my hopes are those in the know will click onto your ‘avatar’ and visit ‘composer in the garden’–that little bit of paradise disguised as Pennsylvania!


  7. Absolutely stunning painting of one of my favorite flowers, Lance! They are so entrancing, lovely, and the way they transform light – be still my heart 🙂 You’ve captured their magic perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thank you for asking this, Rebecca, because I also shy away from actual black from the tube. this dark was made from a combination of VanDyke Brown and Indigo, with the Indigo (the merest touch–it is soooo strong a hue) used to add the shading to the red centres of the flowers.


  9. Rebecca said

    Lovely! Can you remember what colour you used for the centres? I’m always wary of using black, but this looks great.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. oh lemony, how very wonderful to receive this from you today!


  11. Beautiful, Lance! So delicate…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. how very kind–and always so encouraging of your fellow painters.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! Show us how it’s done, Lance! I don’t think I’ve seen a more lovely rendering of a poppy. Beautiful!! Thanks for always inspiring me with your work.

    Liked by 1 person

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