Friday, February 11, 2011

Let the Sun Flower

Once again One over at Onenezz has inspired tonight's post in response to her beautiful and inspirational post on her sunflower that she planted from seeds sent to her by another blogger as a give away. As we combat the winter doldrums, sub zero temps, foot upon foot of snow,  the dreariness of cold, grey winter days, and our near insane anxiety for spring to arrive, I decided to write about the sunflowers that have captured my heart over the years, trying to bring back the sunshine.

I named her Big Mamma, nothing more than a weed,
she came up volunteer, but had such a beautiful golden
glow about her, that I took dozens of pictures of her.

Here in Northern Colorado and, in fact, probably over much of the US, sunflowers grow wild; simply put, they are weeds. But look carefully as you curse the highways and you begin to see the old standard roadside varieties are beginning to take on new looks in size and color. As more and more farmers grow sunflowers to harvest for cooking oil, some of the roadside sunflowers are getting larger heads. Others are sporting bronze colors as gardeners plant plant exotic hybrids ranging from deep, dark browns to golden hot reds.

In August, our small town has a fall festival complete with all of the activities: a parade--mostly politicians, John Deere Tractors, cheerleaders, and fire trucks--, lawn mower races, church in the park, Sunday morning pancake breakfast at the fire station, free rides in the big fire trucks for the kids, and the arts fair where participants display everything from beautiful quilts to homemade jams and jellies, fresh baked pies to the ugliest vegetable in town to the loveliest petunia. On a whim and at the very last minute, I entered one of Big Mamma's flowers and a golden rod--about all I had our first summer here at the Garden Spot. So much to my surprise and total shock, I was amazed to see that Big Mamma had won a blue ribbon. OMG! When I returned later in the day to pick up my flower and my prize, 5 pound bag of sugar, I ran into the flower show judge. It was a hard decision, she told me, between the lily and the sunflower for grand champion. WOW. There is justice in the world, for it would not be right for a weed to win the grand champion. I took another bag of sugar home that day for Reserve Grand Champion for my husband's egg plant. The golden rod won a red ribbon, second place--no sugar, though.
This is my red sunflower. Don't have the name. Not a weed, but a commerial seed.

Big Mamma: Not Bad for a Weed

Combined with daisies and Russian Sage, the sunflowers were
perfect center pieces for our annual family picnic.

As I told One, I have a moratorium on weeding out sunflower sprouts, for we never know what they will grow into. Sometimes we have had an 8 foot tall sunflower sprout as a volunteer. They are fun to grow, they add color to the yard, and they provide so much for the local insects. They are, however, hosts for aphids, arch enemy to any gardener. Some gardeners will grow the giant heads to save the seeds, so you will see the seed heads covered with paper bags to keep the birds away from the ripening seeds. Here in the Garden Spot, it is all about the birds and bees, so all of the sunflowers invited or not provide a healthy banquet for the garden residents.

Let the countdown to spring continue.


  1. Ann, Thanks for linking such wonderful photos to my sunflower post. Congratulations for winning!!! Big Mamma resembles a sun more than the other sunflowers. The red sunflower seem very unique too. Perhaps it is common to you. Sunflower is definitely not a weed here. I am glad to hear that Garden Spot is about birds and the bees. Same here. But I haven't seen any birds eating the seeds yet. I wonder if it is because they are spoilt for choice. Perhaps grasshoppers taste better.

    I have put a link to your post.
    Dec 2 vs Dec 20. What a coincidence!
    Would you consider a seed exchange?

  2. Hello Ann, I am visiting via Onenezze. You to have beautiful sunflowers and I am glad you were inspired to post them. You story on winning the GC prize was funny and it was nice you did win. The parade sounded like fun.

  3. Hi Ann,
    Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday.

    Your sunflowers are beautiful; the Big Mamma with the brown center ring seems to pulsate when I looked at it.

  4. Everyone seems to love sunflowers, weed or not. Your prize winner was a real gem, a beauty. I recently bought 'Teddy Bear' sunflower seeds to grow this year as they don't get so tall. In Ireland we have alot of wind that blows the tall ones over.