Life begins the day you start a garden -- Chinese Proverb
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I love how cheerfully and proud sunflowers spring up sturdily almost anywhere you drop a few seeds. Especially when they are unexpected.
After spying a lone stalk topped with the familiar yellow-petalled disc in the front yard of a neighbor I asked him about it. The flower, growing beneath a tree on his front lawn, had just shown up there, he said. I was enchanted.
New to gardening at the time, it was the first time I'd been introduced to the concept of "volunteers" in the garden.
Later when my boys were toddlers we enjoyed watching volunteer Helianthus annuus, as they are officially named, spring up in the cracks between the paving stones on our back patio. The product of birdseed we had placed in the area, and misplaced as they were we let them grow until they towered over the boys.
Well I'm as enchanted by sunflowers today as I was then and every year I plant a packet beneath the large tree in our front yard. Enough late afternoon sun shines on the patch that the plants thrive there.
This year I chose Kneehigh Sunflowers Music Box Variety after last year's Giant Greystripes wound up competing with the foliage of the large tree they grew under. The packet describes them as "bushy plants (that) bloom freely in lively sunny shades from rich clear yellow to deep gold and cream with lots of pretty bicolors of bronze over gold, all with crisp petals and chocolate center discs." The description sold me (who writes this garden porn anyway?) and they have lived up to their word nicely.
A favorite in many children's garden, sunflowers are truly one of the easiest flowers to start from seed. If you too are a sunflower lover and haven't read Eve Bunting's Sunflower House, browse through a copy the next time you are in a library or bookstore. And check out this how-to article and plan to make one of your own next summer.