Year of the Sunflower Update

One walk past my yard this time of year and you would definitely know that

I love daylilies!

To this gardener, a daylily just says “summer is here!”

When the heat of August arrives and most daylilies have finished strutting their summer beauty in Midwest gardens, another flower is poised to shout the news heralding “Summer’s not over just yet!”

The sunflower!

Sunflowers are charming – they make me smile. So, why do I rarely plant them in my gardens? Squirrels will occasionally steal some seed absconded from the birdfeeders and bury them willy-nilly in the yard, so I do get the occasional volunteer.

I am thankful my hubby surprised me earlier this summer with several packages of sunflower seeds, paving the way for 2021 to be the Year of the Sunflower at my house. At the end of that post I wrote:

We have a HUGE bunny population this year, so I won’t be surprised if my smattering of sunflower seedlings become their next snack. However, I hope they will save me at least a few to provide late summer splendor and autumnal color. I’ll keep you posted. 

Cindie Winquist, in the “Year of the Sunflower”

So, here I am again, keeping you posted.

I planted those gifted seeds a little later than I should have, but faithfully watered. Heavy spring rains threatened to drown them, and the heat and drought conditions that followed seemed to bring them to their demise. After nearly three weeks, they finally poked their little green heads above the earth! Then, seemingly overnight, those little seedlings made their way skyward. Even the forgetful gardener’s failure to keep them consistently watered didn’t seem to deter their growth.

One fateful night last week, as predicted, the resident bunnies decided they would make a smorgasbord out of the young sunflowers. Even though we had surrounded the raised beds with a plastic grid of garden fencing, they managed to find their way into the midnight buffet line in one of two raised beds of sunflowers.

They filled their bunny bellies and left one solitary sunflower and a few stalks standing.

The garden crashers came back the following night and polished off the remaining bits for dessert. You might notice in the photo below how the bunny leaned in on the fencing to finish it off.

They came back for dessert the next night

Thankfully, you can also see in the background of the photo above one raised bed of sunflowers they have not yet marauded.

Stay tuned…there’s still hope!

Year of the Sunflower

One day I came home from work to find a surprise of four packets of sunflower seeds on the kitchen table – two packets of dwarf variety (‘Sunspot’ and ‘Teddy Bear’) in sunny yellows, and two of the taller-than-me sort in the autumn colors I enjoy (‘Autumn Beauty’ and a “Fun Sunny Hybrid Mix”). My thoughtful husband had picked them out for me knowing I love the charm of sunflowers.

Sorry, forgot to take a photo BEFORE I carried the seed packets around in my garden apron.

You may find it hard to believe, but I don’t have much in the way of garden space to plant sunflowers. They are heavy-drinkers, so like to be watered a lot. I get rather negligent in that department once mosquitoes begin chasing me around the garden. Consequently, other than the squirrels who steal or scatter seed from our birdfeeders, I rarely plant sunflowers in my garden.

I did grow them in 2017 to add to a wedding bouquet for my friend Wendy.

Wendy’s bridal bouquet

One other year (2009, according to Facebook) we had a fabulous, show-stopping sunflower display in what I call my “driveway garden” – the plot of land where our driveway ends.

That over-crowded flowerbed now hosts many perennials, weeds. and rabbits, but I snuck in a few sunflower seeds here and there this year. I planted a few of the taller variety in the center of that bed and a few of the shorter variety on that garden’s edge, hoping that the bunnies won’t snack on them. I am also planting some of the dwarf varieties betwixt and between my bushes in the front yard in places where tulips and daffodils have finished their spring performance. A few more have been added to the now sunny (due to tree loss) bed of languishing hostas on the SE corner of the house – maybe the sunflowers will provide at least a little shade for the poor sun-burnt hostas. Last year I grew zinnias in two of our raised beds – this year, I hope those beds will be gracious hosts to sunflowers.

We have a HUGE bunny population this year, so I won’t be surprised if my smattering of sunflower seedlings become their next snack. However, I hope they will save me at least a few to provide late summer splendor and autumnal color. I’ll keep you posted. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about sunflowers, I think you’ll find this post to be amazing.

Every year, the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization promoting the pleasures of home gardening, selects one annual, one perennial, one …
2021: Year of the Sunflower