Elizabeth, I love your question: should you prepare for disappointment, you ask. Gardening does have its share of surprises, some of them not so happy, others delightful. As far as your Shirley poppies, Papaver rhoeas, ideally you are supposed to sow them as soon as the soil can be worked, and cover with a quarter inch of soil because they need darkness to germinate. It can take two weeks or so for them to germinate. Sounds like you might have been a tad late but let’s cross our fingers that it will be OK–we have had an early bout of heat here in New York State this last week, with frost scheduled to return next week, so who knows when the "right time" for anything is anyhow. Margaret
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.