Rare meconopsis back on sale after five year project

A Lake District estate near Keswick will have a unique flower for sale this spring after a five-year project to reintroduce the Lingholm Poppy back to where it originated from.

Back in the 1980s Meconopsis Lingholm caused a big stir in the horticultural world, when the Lingholm Estate's then head gardener Mike Swift discovered a strain of blue poppy that was fertile. Until then, it was believed that all blue poppies were sterile.

After the estate was closed to the public in the 1990s the presence of the Lingholm Poppy died out at Lingholm, but Mike Swift took plants from the original strain with him when he left for a new job in Scotland and was able to re-introduce the colourful bloom in 2014 with a handful of plants.

Mike Swift's son and successor as head gardener, Ken Swift, has this year planted more than 500 blue poppies across the Lingholm estate in the last five years.

This year for the first time, visitors to the Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden will be able to buy Lingholm Blue Poppy plants descended from the original strain to take home, young plants will be on sale from early April.

Lingholm has undergone an extensive restoration plus the building of a Beatrix Potter-inspired garden on the 14.4ha estate, since the Seymour family bought the estate in 2013.

Ken Swift said: "I was born on the estate and remember these vivid flowers from my childhood. It has been a real labour of love get them thriving again, but we wanted to get them growing all over the estate and make a big impact for visitors.

"Meconopsis Lingholm prefer woodland cover and good shade, but they are so bright and easy to spot. It's been a pleasure to bring this special flower back to its original home and continue the gardening legacy my dad created."

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