Sunflowers are such happy plants. I fondly remember Maximillian sunflowers at Joe Field Road probably in 2012 as a relatively new Master gardener – Michelle planted them in the nature area, and then they were everywhere! That’s when I first noticed the striking contrast of the golden flowers against the blue sky!
In my yard, a few sunflowers have magically appeared, most likely with the help of our feathered friends. These volunteers have brought unexpected color to the area that had once been a shade bed. This year, as Spring started to transform to Summer I began to notice more sprouts and is my habit, I let them grow. The striking flowers started to put on a show the first week in June, and with it came the buzzing bees covered in pollen. Stalks appeared near my very sunny, dry riverbed and shot 8 -10 feet in the air.
These bringers of cheer needed to be shared, so my plan was to begin clipping from the top, bending the stalks down. Cutting didn’t make them shorter, it made them more prolific.
With June being my birthday month, there were opportunities to share these lovelies and some of the other flowers from my yard. These arrangements made it to my former and new workout groups, and their families as well as friends, and neighbors. Sharing these gifts from my yard brings me so much joy!
These yellow disks up against the blue sky reminded me of the opportunity to serve in Ukraine. The fields were covered in miles and miles of Sunflowers. It was seen first-hand from a train across the country. A very powerful memory as well as a present reminder.
It is well known that the best time to cut flowers is early morning and it is recommended to put them immediately into a bucket of water before arranging. One morning, this plan was implemented, and it went according to plan. The second time, however, there wasn’t a chance to de-bloom the plant till midday. Oh dear, it didn’t take long for my happy flowers and buds to go sad and limp, even in the water. I hurriedly brought them inside, filled the vases with water, cut flower food and used the best specimens. Hours later, most of those became viable once again, but it was a stark reminder of why we heed best practices.
It’s now the end of July and while the flowers still make me smile, it is time to reclaim my sunbed. They are still producing in this 100+ degree heat, although not as readily as earlier in the summer. Stalks will be stripped of flowers and buds, and then chopped down to make room for the Fall plantings. There will be a chance for yet a few more arrangements. Don’t worry though, there are many other flowers in my crazy cottage garden for the pollinators.
Even in the dog days of Summer, there is joy in the unexpected volunteers that grace our yards and there are flowers that thrive and make us happy even in this inferno that we find ourselves in during this season of HOT!
Starla Willis, Class of 2011
More summer thoughts: