Flowering tributes to ‘lost generation’

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IT is one of the most poignant sights in commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the First World War - a field full of poppies.

And now poppies are being cultivated en masse in St Helens to help mark the 100-year anniversary of the start of the war.

The Landlife wildflowers charity have joined forces with Fir Tree Farm, near Billinge, and Inglenook Farm in Rainford to grow scores of poppies and are selling pouches of seeds to encourage amateur gardeners to grow their own.

Landlife’s chief executive Tony Jones said: “We already grew poppies as part of our normal production but, for obvious reasons, we will be particularly focusing on them and promoting them up to 2018.

“I’m not surprised there has been such a surge of interest either - they are a beautiful and poignant reminder of the sacrifices so many people made.

“We’ve now rented some land from Alan and Edwina Abbott at Fir Tree Farm and the poppies have done particularly well there this year because of the quality of the soil. We also grow cornflower, which is the remembrance flower for the French - so we’ve got all bases covered!”

The native red poppy flowered among the battlefields of the First World War and became a symbol of remembrance, loss and hope for a different future.

So Landlife, which promotes the creation of new wildflower habitats and creative conservation, is already working with community groups and local authorities to sow native poppies both this autumn and in spring 2014.

As reported last month, plans are also already in place to lay special stones in honour of Wigan’s war heroes who were awarded the Victoria Cross.

John Molyneux, John Thomas Davies and Norman Harvey were all awarded the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”.

Tony Jones added: “Everyone has the opportunity to grow poppies in their area, although I would advise scattering as many seeds as possible because they can be notoriously difficult to grow.

“We always get the seeds down in the autumn and occasionally double sow the following spring too.”

With next year marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, Landlife Wildflowers have created a Corn Poppy Commemorative Seed Packet containing 10 grams of UK native seed, grown right here in St Helens.

To order your seeds from Landlife go online at: www.wildflower.org.uk