Thursday, May 15, 2008

Glaucidium palmatum (Japanese Wood Poppy)

Now, isn't this plant just the cat's meow? I discovered it in my shade garden last spring, and said, Wow! This spring our Japanese Wood Poppy is back, and has grown bigger.

First off, I didn't plant it, and had no idea it was there until it came into bloom. My husband brought it home as a gift from friends who are serious connoisseur plant collectors. (This is a category of gardener that I don't aspire to myself, as I tend to limit myself to what works in the rough and tumble of my wind-swept country garden.)

These friends have an amazing woodland and rock garden far north of here, near Thunder Bay, Ont., and I would love to share pictures of their awe-inspiring woodland plantings and alpine garden, but they prefer to keep their garden private, so I'd better not.

Here's a rundown on this rare and desirable woodland perennial, courtesy of Tony Avant at Plant Delights Nursery:
Glaucidium palmatum is one of the most highly prized plants in horticulture...and one that we can't grow in our climate. I am shamelessly envious of those of you north of Zone 7b or on the West Coast who can grow it. For those in the colder zones, we offer this hard-to-find hellebore relative which makes large 2-foot wide clumps of rich, green, anemone-like foliage. In very early spring, the clumps are adorned with large, pink, peony-like flowers. This is such an exceptional beauty that any gardener who has a woodland garden and can grow this gem simply must have this as part of the garden.
Alas, if you're looking for this gem, Plant Delights is sold out. You could try for it next season, or go to Hillside Nursery, which lists it as available in the fall. In Ontario, Lost Horizons lists 'Album', a white selection. In BC, you could try The Natural Gardener; they featured Glaucidium palmatum as their April plant of the month. They say:
It prefers part to full shade in moist, humus rich soil and will reach a height of 30 inches. This is such an exceptional beauty that any gardener who has a woodland garden simply must have this as part of their garden.
I'm amazed that Glaucidium palmatum has done so well in my shade garden, which is under evergreens and isn't naturally moist. I've added lots of mulch and woodsy humus, and I do water it religiously.

In fact, after the misery of last season's drought, we added a partial irrigation system and this is one of two beds that will get regular automatic watering this summer.

For more about my shade garden, see my web site.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener


  1. Not fair, not fair! I've been wanting one of those & you have someone plant it for you, you lucky gardener. It looks gorgeous. I haven't truly tried to get it yet because I fear it would suffer in my extremely well-drained soil. Your experience with it has given me hope. Maybe next year I'll order it.

  2. If you water it and give a rich, mulchy woodland soil, it should work out. That's really all we've done for this plant.

  3. Anonymous3:02 PM


    Seneca Hill Perennials (a mail order nusery located just south of Oswego, NY) carries this plant, and its white sibling (var. leucanthum) on a regular basis. They do just fine in my shady, protected zone 5/6 garden in Upstate NY, and are indeed a joy to tend in one's garden.

    Roger (

  4. Anonymous8:19 PM

    Jacques from Qu├ębec.
    I grow these plants succesfully in zone 4 in shade . They bloom every year and reseed .


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-Yvonne, aka Country Gardener