The big perennial blue poppies consist of a number of beautiful and increasingly popular and well-known plants to be found in suitable gardens mainly in western Europe. They are derived from a number of species of the Sino-Himalayan genus Meconopsis which was introduced to the west at the end of the nineteenth and then especially in the first half of the twentieth century by adventurous plant-hunters. These species, the most important being M. grandis and M. baileyi, were then planted, probably often randomly, in close proximity in gardens and this led to them hybridising, largely due to insect pollination, sometimes intentionally due to hand-pollination by gardeners. This in turn led to the formation of plethora of forms which were variable, but distinct in appearance, often sterile and being sterile could only be propagated by division thus retaining their particular characteristics.

It became clear to me at the end of the twentieth century that the naming of these distinct forms that had appeared during the century was very confused, and that it would be desirable to sort them out with the aim of making the range of different and lovely plants more available to gardeners. This need came to a head when I was trying to decide on what to call one particular clone I had been given by a builder friend.

After consultation with Meconopsis experts in the Scottish Rock Garden Club, I named this clone Meconopsis ‘Jimmy Bayne’. Subsequently, I discussed the matter with nurseryman Mervyn Kessell and in 1998 we founded The Meconopsis Group with the primary aim of sorting out the identities and names of the big perennial blue poppies in cultivation.

We were strongly supported by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and by Meconopsis enthusiasts in Scotland and elsewhere. Many became members of the Meconopsis Group and also donated plants from their gardens, nurseries etc. for an identification trial held at the nursery of the RBGE.

In my studies endeavouring to resolve the confusion of names and identities I also built up a personal collection of over 60 different specimens5 of the big blue poppies. This collection became a Plant Heritage (NCCPG*) collection in 2001 and was awarded scientific status in 2006. Since then, at my instigation, two more national collections have been formed: Holehird Gardens in Windermere and Branklyn Garden in Perth.

As the confusion of identities and names has now been largely resolved, it is appropriate to publish the results of our studies in this largely pictorial guide (see details below for "A Pictorial Guide to the Big Blue Poppies (Meconopsis)"). My main aim in publishing the book is to help these plants become increasingly available to gardeners as specialist nurseries build up stocks and add them to their lists. The book should also help gardeners in their choice of particular plants to cultivate. It also contains advice on cultivation, information on sources of the plants for purchase and public gardens where good collections of Meconopsis can be seen.

During intensive study over more than 35 years growing and observing these plants, I have taken a very large number of photographs at the various stages of their growth cycles, all of which are helpful in cultivar diagnosis. I am making available, as time allows, an archive of many of these photographs for all to see.

Copyright is reserved on the photographs so please do not reproduce them without permission. In most cases, this will be freely given on request.

Evelyn Stevens (October 2015

Evelyn died in August 2017 after having to contend with cancer for two and a half years. Her book is still available - for details see below. Permission to reproduce photographs can be obtained by email to Lewis Stevens (

A Pictorial Guide ot the Big Blue Poppies

This book is an illustrated guide to over 60 cultivars of big perennial blue poppies (Meconopsis). For each there are relevant colour photographs of the various stages in the annual development of the
plants, together with a brief description of each. The book also has an account of the work of the Meconopsis Group over the past 15 years in clarifying the identities and the names of the plants, together with advice on their cultivation and propagation. Lists of gardens with good displays of the big perennial blue poppies and nurseries where they can be acquired are also provided. It is fully indexed and has a glossary of terms used in the descriptions.

Book Details
297 x 210mm, 96pp, 398 colour illustrations. ISBN 9780956216816,
Dander Publishing, 2015.

An order form (pdf) with details of price and how to order by post may be downloiaded here.

Sample pages are available in pdf as follows:
  page 22, 24, 29, 34, 43, 60.

I have received many favourable comments on the book from readers including gardeners, experts and taxonomists. .Some of the comments are listed here.

Archive of pictures of Meconopsis arranged by plant name
       (Pictures open on a new page)

Section A   Species and aff. Species (near species):


Baileyi alba

Baileyi 'Hensol Violet'


Grandis 'Himal Sky'

Grandis 'Astral Blue'

Grandis subsp. orientalis

'Great Glen'


Section B  George Sherriff Group


'Barney's Blue'




'Jimmy Bayne'

Note: Four of these (Dalemain, Huntfield, Jimmy Bayne and Susan's Reward) although very similar in appearance, are distinct clones with unique features.

Section C   Infertile Blue Group

'Bobby Masterton'

'Bryan Conway'


'Crewdson Hybrid'



'Dorothy Renton'  





'Maggie Sharp'

'Mervyn Kessell'

'Mrs Jebb'

'P.C. Abildgaard'

'Slieve Donard'

'Stewart Annand'

'Willie Duncan'

Section D  Fertile Blue Group


'Harry Bush'





White form (other than baileyi alba)




It gives me great pleasure to thank friends, members of my family and Meconopsis enthusiasts who have helped so greatly to enable me to study and grow these lovely plants.

In particular, for creating this web-site, I am grateful to my computer expert friend, Peter Taylor. My husband, Lewis, and two daughters, Catherine and Rowena who encouraged and helped me bring to fruition my book "A Pictorial Guide to the Big Blue Poppies". Without their help it would still be unfinished. It has given me a lot of pleasure to receive many compliments about the book. The work would also not have been possible without the input of plants and information from members of The Meconopsis Group of which I was co-founder with nurseryman, Mervyn Kessell, which was founded in 1998 to study the genus Meconopsis, with the primary aim of sorting out the confusion in the identities and names of the big perennial blue poppies.

The studio photograph on the cover of the book was taken by Jim Smith in my polytunnel. Almost all the other photographs are my own taken in The Linns' garden.