For the last four years I’ve been photographing Dorset’s pink poppy fields – Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy.
However, since the summer of 2017 there had been quite a bit of speculation, on the web, as to whether Dorset’s opium poppies would return this year. In a nutshell that was because of too much EU ‘red tape’, making it hard for growers to get a license to grow this crop.
As I predicted then, 2017 was the last year of Papaver somniferum in this particular area, but the good news is that in 2018 there are still fields of pink poppies growing in Dorset.
The 2018 poppies look quite similar to opium poppies but are a different variety, grown for their seeds which will be harvested for bread and other foods.
Depending on the time of day (and the direction you take the photo) the colour of the 2018 poppies varied from quite a strong shade of pink to very pale pink, although for most of the day they appeared almost white.
All my poppy photos were either taken at moonset, sunrise or sunset – the best time of day for the light. Different fields also seemed to be a slightly different colour, perhaps different varieties of poppy were planted, not sure.
I find these transient, vast swathes of pink poppies breathtakingly beautiful, especially at first light, and in my opinion they’re more stunning than a red poppy field (and certainly way cooler!).
This year, as I stood and waited patiently for the moon to set, or the sun to either rise over the horizon or disappear, I felt that this was probably the best year of all for Dorset’s pink poppy fields.
These gorgeous Dorset pink poppy fields will soon finish flowering, and photographs will be all that’s left of this mass of beautiful blooms.
Update 29th June: already the poppies in my photos are now over, the petals are dropping and the fields are looking very ‘threadbare’.
Questions I’ve been asked about the poppy fields…
Q: “Which field are these poppies in?” [asked a year after my photos were taken].
A: Poppy fields don’t appear in the same location each year. That goes for Dorset pink poppies, as well as red poppies.
Q: “Please tell me the location of the poppy fields.”
A: I often have to spend a long time researching locations, so you can appreciate that I’m not just going to hand the info over to anyone who asks!
I also don’t know what someone’s motive is, i.e. are they going to try and do a model shoot in the field and flatten crops, or perhaps bring a whole host of children and friends along?
Crops do get trampled on in people’s desire to get ‘the perfect photo’ and the thoughtlessness of the few ruins it for the majority.
Additionally, all locations are on private land, which can involve liaison with owners/tenant farmers if you can’t take photographs from outside the field.
Remember that these poppies are crops and are therefore someone’s livelihood!