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Poppy crop fails due to dry spring

11:39 25/07/2014

A plan to grow poppies all over Flanders to mark the centenary of the First World War has failed, after the flowers, made famous by the 1915 poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, failed to bloom.

The plan of the Agency for Nature and Woodland (ANB) was to plant a total of 48 hectares of poppies at various spots in Flanders. Poppy fields have had some success in Vilvoorde, Deinze in East Flanders, Hoogstraten and Wuustwezel in Antwerp and Achel in Limburg. However, in many of the locations the crop has failed and no one knows why.

“Weather conditions in the spring were not ideal, because it was so very dry for several weeks shortly after we sowed,” a spokesperson for the ANB said. “Several laboratories are now looking into the matter and the results will help us ensure next year’s project can succeed in all its glory.”

Elsewhere in Flanders, 22,000 pigeons have been released in Ypres in West Flanders, heading home to Great Britain in a symbolic act of remembrance. The pigeons had been brought to Ypres by a number of pigeon-fancier groups in the UK.

“The pigeon was very important for communications during the First World War,” explained Stefaan Van Moerkerke, the man behind the project. “I also wanted to draw attention to the dove as a symbol of peace. That’s what’s behind my invitation to the English and the Scots to come to Ypres with doves instead of weapons, as they did 100 years ago.” Van Moerkerke wants the event to become an annual tradition.


Photo: Palmiped/Wikimedia


Written by Alan Hope