Sunflowers: Setting Sun on the Season

I knew this day would arrive, but oh how I’ll miss them.  The row of sunflowers lining the deck are starting to go to seed.

Impatient birds knocked over one of the lightweight planter boxes last week, smashing the largest flower head clean off the stalk and into a heap on the deck. My son helped me move the planters from the deck to the narrow space behind the lavender to stabilize the planters.  Now wedged in place, they won’t fall over, but they look like they shrunk two feet.  Hopefully the rest of the flowers will go to seed on the stalk. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.

Last year I placed the seed heads along our stone wall, just outside my office window.  There I could watch the squirrels pick them clean.  I don’t know why I find those cute little hands at work so appealing.  I’m annoyed when they chew off the pumpkin leaves, but delighted when they snack on the seeds.

For my readers living in different parts of the world:

Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named after its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. It has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production. – Wikipedia

Today I’m wearing my worn out but much-loved sunflower t-shirt with the saying “Love this Life” across the front.  It’s my own little sendoff to Helianthus annus, flower of the sun.

Here are the last of them, photographed at dusk.

Sunflower
Sunflower at Dusk
End of Season Sunflower

Floating rafts of sunflowers are being used to clean up water contaminated as a result of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union. The roots of the sunflower plants remove 95% of the radioactivity in the water by pulling contaminants out of the water.”

17 thoughts on “Sunflowers: Setting Sun on the Season

  1. This sunflower used to be abundant in the Philippines or at least in the village where I grew up as a kid. I saw them growing wildly along the roadside while some few were domesticated. This was in the 1960s up till mid 1970s. I don’t know if the Moro rebellion in those years could be blamed for the sunflowers’ disappearance here but I though know for certain that these flowers do not appeal much to people here which could be the main reason why nobody tried to nurture or save them.

    Now if I want to see sunflowers growing quite abundantly I have to travel to Lanao and Bukidnon provinces (Southern Philippine provinces) more than a hundred kilometers away. I love flowers of whatever kind and wherever they come from. Since I read about sunflowers in your blog I had been toying out with the idea that if I come to Lanao or Bukidnon I will bring home some seedlings. We live in a town where my father-in-law has big tracts of land and there is so much space to plant.

    For now, my hobby is more of gardening where I plant ‘basic’ vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, cucumber, pumpkins, garlic and onions. I call them ‘basic’ because these are the most common vegetables in our place.

    I have been one of the followers of your nice blog.

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    • Maxim, thanks for reading and following along!

      How interesting to hear a different perspective on sunflowers. It would be amazing to see them growing wild on the roadside. We have what amounts to a weed really, called wild mustard. It grows in the open spaces in the spring, blanketed fields and hills with bright yellow flowers. It’s such a cheerful color.

      Let me know if you pick up some seeds and grow sunflowers of your own. They are a nice compliment to a vegetable, since they have shallow roots and grow in vertical space. They don’t take up much room, and they invite the beneficial bees.

      Nice hearing from you!

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  2. It’s really a bit of a guilty pleasure sitting here comfortably, reading about your garden from my sofa, while you devote your days to all the duties that come with fall and putting everything to rest for next year. Thank’s for sharing you garden here Alys, I know I’d be missing it even more without you.

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    • Awww. You always saying the nicest things. I enjoy the garden so much. I hope you are planting along with me next spring in your new abode. If not, I know you’ll do amazing things with your aqua planting pots. 🙂

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    • Re-decorate! I love that.

      I upgraded from the 2010 theme to 2012. It was quick and seamless, with just a few behind the scene changes in the sidebar. I tweaked it again today, since I don’t have the technical knowledge to make a long, thin banner. I changed the background today and I thinks it’s enough color to frame the page. Please let me know if you miss the banner. Be honest!

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      • I thought so! It’s like driving home from work, the same route everyday, you suddenly wake up and say “wait a minute” when did they build that there. I’m really groovin’ on the frame, great colors & your lovely lavender. Honest, I do think a Banner kind of says “Ta Da, here you are”, but I think I’m too old fashioned….the top of your post looks clean and streamlined, which most people would probably prefer….I’m a slow ‘adopter’, my cell phone isn’t even a Smartphone…it’s 8 years old and an embarrasment in public. 🙂

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        • Thank you so much for your comments. I had a banner, but it was short and looked out of place. I’ll see if I can figure out how to make one.

          I’m actually impressed that you have an 8 year old phone that still works! Celebrate that. My phones seem to last about two years before going belly up.

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          • Since we didn’t bother with a home phone (thought we’d move a little quicker, LOL) I’m using my phone all day everyday and it doesn’t keep charged very long, so I’m actually waiting for the iphone 5 to see what’s new, then I’ll need to get with the program. Don’t want to get too far behind.

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            • My son Mac (purely a coincidence) loves all things Apple and Mac, so he’s saving up for his own iPhone 5! Can you believe it. We’ve managed to keep both boys phone-free up until now, but at 12 and 15, they are ready for one, for the times they are away from home. We don’t want to spend top dollar on emergency phones and my older son could care less. We’ll see where this leads.

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              • Well good for you and your boys, I’ve seen much younger kids sitting in restaurants, talking on their phones and totally ignoring their parents…double edged sword. Some parents here actually had a major meltdown when cell phones were banded from the classroom….they felt it more important that they had 7/24 access to their kids…hard to be a teacher these days. Congrats to Mac for taking the initiative, maybe they give you a discount!

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                • They have very strict rules at the middle school. Phones must be turned off and in the bottom of the backpack from the minute they land on campus. If they need to call home, they go to the office. They get Saturday detention if they use it on campus. I can’t imagine how disruptive that would be.

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  3. Pingback: Sunflower Power: Still Number One | gardeningnirvana

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