A leading lady
How the fragile poppy stepped into the spotlight
In the dormancy of winter, when the earth is quiet, little do we know what’s sleeping beneath its surface. Yet, when the soil is churned to plant crops, there is often a colourful surprise, as poppies stir and burst into life. Poppies bloom in over a hundred different varieties, showing off a range of vibrant colours: from deep, silky purple to pure, brilliant white, with lots of subtle incarnations, including pale mauve and creamy apricot rose, in between. They display perfect-edged petals or ragged plumes, appear in single and in double-flowered forms, and, whatever their cultural significance, have always dazzled with the sheer fragility of their beauty. These fragile flowers, with their tissue-like petals, resiliently emerge to remind us that life will always triumph and that the poppy is worthy of leading lady status.
To the Persians, poppies were known as the flower of love. In Greek mythology, the Goddess of the Harvest, Demeter, created the poppy to help her sleep after her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades to live in the Underworld. And since the 1920s, the poppy’s determination to grow in battlefields has made it the symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives in conflict. Love, sleep and death. In harvest time in the golden cereal fields in England, the beautiful poppies dance through the barley in bursts of bright colour – to enliven the English landscape.
The poppy’s edible seeds have been used for centuries for their supposed medical properties. Egyptian doctors prescribed the seeds to help ease the pain of sore muscles and headaches. The seeds are also rich in zinc, which is thought to speed up recovery and even maintain eyesight. All the better to see you with, my dear.
At Jo Malone London, we wanted to capture the essence of that wild, unstoppable restlessness and bottle it. Our Poppy & Barley Cologne is the fragrance of English meadows warmed by the sun, quietly and brilliantly thriving in all their simplicity and splendidness. A lively floral scent, where vibrant poppies are cocooned by bran and cotton-soft barley, it is bright, delicate and powdery. An homage to all things fragile, but indomitable.
Shop the story