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 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.”