Sunflowers

Sunflowers


Helianthus, better known as sunflowers. Nothing makes me smile more quickly and longer than sunflowers. They have a joy about them that elicits from me wonder and an increasing certainty that nature gets it so magically right. They really don’t come into their own until the end of summer when many of the brighter flowers are beginning to fade, as if to say ……” it ain’t over till it’s over.” Just before the summer light begins to change, the land is at its brightest in fields of yellow sunflowers.

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Just down the road from my home is a field that is planted every year in a border of sunflowers. The narrow road is curvy and the flowers follow it in the lazy, easy manner of a southern summer. Each year they plant a different variety.


 

John De Bord photo

No Van Gogh in a vase, these brazen Las Vegas showgirls toss their gorgeous heads in high style. Only the most high stepping photons become sunflowers in August, making high rollers of us all. L.S. Bessen


 

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Even an abandoned barn takes on a faded beauty with a bib of yellow and green. PHOTO taken by Linda Panofsky Photography, with permission.


 

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The combination of lavender and sunflower stirs the soul to battle in a bloodless war ~ who’s the finest?…….would you ask me to choose between my children?  ~ alas, I cannot…..


 

In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.  ~ Christopher Morley

 

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SUNFLOWER HISTORY

Contemporary sunflowers trace their ancestry to plants found at archeological sites dating from 3,000 BC. While they grew abundantly on the Great Plains, sunflowers were first purposely cultivated by Native Americans in the Southwest or Mississippi River valley area as a source of medicine, fiber, seeds, and oil.


When the European settlers arrived, they immediately recognized the value of sunflowers and sent seeds back to Europe. There they found a place in English cottage gardens and even Van Gogh’s paintings. However, it was in Russia that the sunflower became a major agricultural crop. They provided a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking church dietary laws. Early in the 20th Century, Russian growers spearheaded the breeding and selection for disease resistance and high oil content. In the 1960s, the U.S. began sustained commercial production of oil seed cultivars to produce vegetable oil.


Long beloved as part of the rural landscape, sunflowers have been embraced by gardeners as an ornamental plant relatively recently. Responding to this interest, breeders in Germany, Japan and the U.S. have developed types particularly suitable for home gardens.   source

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Busy bees make sure that more sunflowers seeds are able to grow…..


 

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Tightly packed seed head , this sunflower and the ones below graced my kitchen window.


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Sunflowers grow best in locations with full sun. They are remarkably tough and will grow in any kind of soil as long as it is not waterlogged. They do fine in soils that are slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5). Once sunflowers get started, they can tolerate drought as befits plants whose ancestors grew happily in dry prairie regions. They are so easy to grow that they often plant themselves, springing up unbidden beneath a bird feeder.

Sunflower seed, leaves and stems emit substances that inhibit the growth of certain other plants. They should be separated from potatoes and pole beans. Where sunflower seeds are regularly used as bird feed, toxins from the accumulated seed hulls eventually kill the grass below. Harmless to animals or people, the toxins eventually biodegrade in the soil.
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Each of what is to become a seed is actually an individual flower.


 

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The spiral formation of seeds in a flower almost always follows the mathematical formula called Fibonacci sequence.  Beautiful isn’t it?


For those of you that like the science that explains a bit of the mystery and beauty in nature, here is some more information:

The Fibonacci numbers are Nature’s numbering system. They appear everywhere in Nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants, to the pattern of the florets of a flower, the bracts of a pinecone, or the scales of a pineapple. The Fibonacci numbers are therefore applicable to the growth of every living thing, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of mankind.

Plants do not know about this sequence – they just grow in the most efficient ways. Many plants show the Fibonacci numbers in the arrangement of the leaves around the stem. Some pine cones and fir cones also show the numbers, as do daisies and sunflowers. Sunflowers can contain the number 89, or even 144. Many other plants, such as succulents, also show the numbers. Some coniferous trees show these numbers in the bumps on their trunks. And palm trees show the numbers in the rings on their trunks.

Why do these arrangements occur? In the case of leaf arrangement, or phyllotaxis, some of the cases may be related to maximizing the space for each leaf, or the average amount of light falling on each one. Even a tiny advantage would come to dominate, over many generations. In the case of close-packed leaves in cabbages and succulents the correct arrangement may be crucial for availability of space.

In the seeming randomness of the natural world, we can find many instances of mathematical order involving the Fibonacci numbers themselves and the closely related “Golden” elements.

I am also fascinated by fractals in nature, but that is for another time.     source 


 

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Sunflowers have a Golden Spiral seed arrangement. This provides a biological advantage because it maximizes the number of seeds that can be packed into a seed head.


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coconut ice hybrid

Coconut Ice hybrid by Burpee


 

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Although the “rules” say that their flower heads follow the sun, these dueling sunflowers appear to have broken the rule. It is a good reminder that rules are made to be broken, especially in your garden!


 

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Such loveliness ……. as the pollen coats the serrated leaves in softness.


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A rugged beauty even on the underside. The stems of the sunflower can provide silage as well.


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And so the humble sunflower provides us with seeds to plant, seeds for humans, insects and birds to eat, pollen for bees, oil from the seeds, forage and of course, happy sunny flowers.

 

As an added bonus, did you know that Sunflowers can also be used as a silage crop? They can be used as a double crop after early harvested small grains or vegetables, an emergency crop, or in areas with a season too short to produce mature corn for silage.

Forage yields of sunflower are generally less than corn when a full growing season is available.

Nutritional quality of sunflower silage is often higher than corn but lower than alfalfa hay. Crude protein level of sunflower silage is similar to grass hay and higher than corn silage.   source


 

 

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In this beautiful photo by Rosemary Washington, the single sunflower gives warning that the wetter and cooler days of autumn will soon be upon us.



 

I have enjoyed many sunflowers in my gardens over the years. At one time I had a very large area dedicated to them where I mixed Russian Giants with smaller varieties amidst red poppies…..It was for the children, and all that visited were drawn to that garden. I will see if I can find a photo since it was before digital cameras, but I so remember having to stand on a ladder to reach the flower heads on the other side of the 6 foot fence. It was quite a site. I could see them from many areas on the property, and they never failed to remind me to smile!

Thank you for stopping by. I will be posting later this week on my own gardens as well as about an extraordinary home. Laters, charisse

” I want to be like a sunflower; so that even on the darkest days I will stand tall & find the sunlight”.        MLK

 

Comments

  1. mohamed elsamra :

    V. V. NICE THANK YOU

  2. Jennifer Martz :

    I just started creating art quilts. I am just practicing right now. I would love to create an art quilt of your picture with the sunflower and butterfly. If I have your permission.

  3. Sunflower oil is our Providence. It doesn’t take well to GMO modification. Hence, the best to cook with for many reasons.

    Appreciate all you listed, most excellently, about code rails & steps. Alas, it’s what is best no matter the cost. Hence, it doesn’t get done at times.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • I did not know that they do not take to genetic modification, and hopefully they never will!!! Alas, building codes can sometimes get in the way,mostly for good reason but sometimes to the death of common sense.Thank you for stopping by Tara. Enjoy your blog.

  4. Oh me oh my!!!!! Love this blog. Gorgeous pics and script. So interesting too. I Would love to have a field of lavender and sunflowers! That is breathtaking
    Thx for all!

  5. I really appreciate your blog today and all the information too. We were driving through Texas panhandle and Oklahoma Sunday. I would have loved to stop and take photos. We saw field after field of wild sunflowers along the freeway. They were gorgeous. Our best to you and K from Bentonville, AR.

  6. Loved your post today! The Biltmore Estate plants sunflowers all around their fields and it’s so beautiful to look at its hard to pay attention if you are the one doing the driving!

  7. Beautiful, sunny blog post today, Charisse! Love the quote you found and the education. Hope all is well with you and K and pups. Koda’s surgery SUCH a success.

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