Sunny, Summer, Sunflowers

It’s not been a particularly sunny summer here in normally sun-blasted Central Texas. If it’s not vomiting rain, it’s cloudy and threatening to open up.  A break from the Texas sun is okay with me, though having grown up in the Sun Belt, I must admit I’ve grown weary of the dreary.

The volunteer sunflowers haven’t though.

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For days on end this summer, these fun annuals have invited sunshine into my garden.

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These four–Moe, Larry, Curly–and Shemp–planted themselves on the edge of my front garden.

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Acting as Guardians of the Gardens, they’ve grown to height and bloomed, rain or shine, and they will do so until they seed out for the birds–and next summer’s bounty.

The sunflowers along the driveway are growing in hopscotch fashion, spreading their happy flower ways,

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…reaching to the sky,

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…and leaning into the drive to wave a friendly welcome home to me.

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These sunflowers are planted by birds who visit my black-oil sunflower-filled bird feeders. Early each spring, MANY germinate in my gardens and pathways.  Actually, only a few seedlings germinate in the gardens proper because I mulch thoroughly, but in the rock walkways, scads of nascent sunflowers develop, most of which end up in the compost. One of the first chores after winter perennial pruning is weeding the dozens of sunflower wannabes.  I leave a few, sometimes transplanting one or two to more desirable spots. Then I enjoy the show in late spring and summer.

This year, there’s some variety in flower form, like this giant bloom, caught toward its end,

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…or a few that are channeling zinnias,

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…and finally, the well-known and loved ray form of this summer staple.

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And do they feed anything, you ask?  Why, yes they do, as a matter of fact! My honeybees are especially fond of these flowers.

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Honeys buzz around the sunflowers all day/everyday, but native bees and flies nectar too, as well as butterflies of all stripes and dots.

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Once the flowers are finished, the local finch gangs will come a callin’ to gather their share of nutritious seed,  assuring a future sunflower crop for my garden and  surrounding areas.

In addition to the non-native, who-knows-where-they-came-from sunflowers, my beloved Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata,  have made their floral debut for the year.

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Their bloom time is toward the end of summer and gloriously, early fall, but there are June and July previews of the autumn show.  Goldeneye feed the same critters as the larger sunflowers with both pollinators and seed spreaders.

Once the birds have eaten their fill of the annual sunflowers and have moved on, I’ll cut down the huge stalks,  relegating the remains to my compost bin or yard waste for pick-up to produce Dillo Dirt, a City of Austin soil conditioner.

 

Summer sunshine.

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Even when it’s rainy.

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Sunny sunflowers!

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20 thoughts on “Sunny, Summer, Sunflowers

  1. These are wonderful images. Sunflowers do seem to make most people smile, don’t they? Somehow we seem almost programmed to accept them as cheerful. Not that I’m complaining. Do we allow them extra sway because they’ve been featured in famous paintings? Do irises get the same boost? I’m in curiosity mode here today.

    I do enjoy watching (and listening to) finches. Now I know they are also “spreading” sunflowers, my enjoyment will be doubled. Maybe they are the ones who planted the volunteers I’m seeing. It is always a better year when a sunflower shows up in the garden.

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    • And for that matter, do water lilies get the same play? Ha.

      Sunflowers are smile-inducing. I swear, everytime I leave my house and come home again, I grin at the sight of the sunflowers. I saw the first male Lesser Finch flitter off as I came into the drive. Woo hoo!! More finch action to come!

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    • I love that word, “chancers”! My tech guy, aka, The Husband, wrote a program for me to use for both the copyright and labeling. He claims that the program is still awkward, and maybe it is just a bit, but he’s not had time to tweak it any. From what he says, it’s not a hard thing to write, if you are, or know, a computer geek.

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  2. Great pictures. I love sunflowers. Especially the delicate wild ones. They always insist on planting themselves in the wrong places: like at the front of a border or along the corner edge of the property where they are surely someday going to cause a traffic accident. I know I should rip them out but how!?!? They are way too pleasant and cheerful. I just learned that the petals are edible and make a nice addition to a salad. The new leaves are an important food source for squirrels in the spring, too.

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    • Don’t rip them out, hope instead, that the drivers will slow down and maybe even look at the flowers. (I know–truly wishful thinking.)

      I didn’t know they were edible, by us or squirrels. I have seen sunflowers as garnishes at restaurants, so, yeah.

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      • Oh, you and I are on the same page. haha The husband and I have had conversations about menacing plants. My argument: consider them a traffic calming device ….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You forgot to mention goldfinches! They love sunflower seeds. I also love sunflowers. My favorite is a variety called ‘Italian White’. I like the perennial wild sunflowers too but they are not very well adapted to my garden – soil is too rich.

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    • I didn’t forget the goldfinches, I just mentioned finches in a generic sense!! I love them too, though I don’t see the American goldfinches as much as the Lessers. I also have House Finches. Purple Finches winter in Central Texas, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them.

      Interesting about your perennial sunflowers. Our perennials adore crappy soil too, so I guess that’s a characteristic across the board.

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  4. Ha! Love the way you named your Sunflowers! I planted some Sunflower seeds this year, but they’re taking time to get bigger. It would be fun to have them get really tall this year. Sounds like we have similar birds in our gardens–in the summer, anyway. Happy summer!

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    • I don’t usually name my plants, though there have been a few occasions that I’ve called plants certain names. Somehow though, that set of names fit those particular plants, so there we have it. I think we do have many of the same birds, though many simply migrate through here and you get to enjoy them in the summer, before they wing back this way. Happy summer to you, Beth!

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  5. Love the Sunflowers! and the fact that you know them by name :)))
    I am looking fw to have more space so I can have few in the garden! Tried one in a container one year but wasn’t too happy, I have to say.

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