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The field poppy (papavera rhoeas) – also known as the common poppy or corn poppy, is one of Britain’s best-loved wild flowers. In July and August, its buds burst open to splash verges and fields with scarlet flowers, signaling the arrival of high summer.

The medicinal properties of poppies have long been recognised, and they’ve been used in country remedies for centuries. Add to this a talent for flourishing virtually anywhere, a gift for thriving on disturbed soil and an ability (completely at odds with its fragile appearance) to shrug off the battering winds and rains of a typical British summer, and it’s hardly surprising the poppy has earned a special place in the nation’s heart.

Image Source: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/sowapoppypatch/

For more than a hundred years, the poppies enduring and regenerative qualities have been associated with Remembrance Day, and the wild flower has come to represent the sacrifice made by millions of people in past wars.

As the soldier and poet John McCrae observed in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, drafted on the battlefield in France, even the carnage of war could not crush the spirit of the poppy:

‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row’
In Flanders Fields, John McCrae, 1915

When the guns fell silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance for all those who had died in the Great War.

By the time of the formation of the British Legion in 1921, the tradition of an annual Two Minute Silence marking the anniversary of the signing of the armistice and the end of the conflict on the Western Front was already established.  

Image Source: https://poppyladymadameguerin.wordpress.com/remembrance-poppy-timeline-for-great-britain/

The Legion’s remit was – and remains – to provide support and care for those who had suffered as a result of service in the Armed Forces during war, whether through their own service or through that of a husband, father or son. The Legion adopted the poppy as the symbol for its annual Poppy Appeal, and the first Poppy Day was held on 11th November 1921.

As well as inspiring poets and the imagination of the public, poppies have also provided a muse for artists, including the impressionist painter Claude Monet.

Monet painted Poppy Field, one of his best-known works, while living in Argenteuil, France. In this area northwest of Paris, he found colourful landscapes that inspired him to experiment with painting outdoors.

Poppy Field depicts four figures strolling through a meadow of bright red poppies on a summer’s day. In the foreground, a young woman holds a blue parasol as a small boy, shoulder high in a sea of flowers walks beside her. The couple is thought to be Monet’s wife Camille and their son Jean. Poppy Field  is one of the early examples of impressionism, and went on display to the public at the first Impressionist exhibition in1874.

Image Source: https://www.claude-monet.com/the-poppy-field.jsp

Keep Summer with You All Year Round

You don’t have to wait until summer comes around to enjoy the simple beauty and vibrant colour of poppies. In our Nature collection, you’ll find Poppy – our own striking design, contrasting a sea of blood red poppy flowers and green buds against a white background – reproduced on a wide range of fashion bags. And in our Masterpieces collection, you’ll find Claude Monet’s Poppy Field is also available on many different fashion bag products. Both designs are available as cushions.

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