Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why Every Garden Needs Sunflowers

From the bean of Green Bean.

Who doesn't love sunflowers?  They emit happiness, their bright yellow faces turning with the sun.  Their sturdy stocks lifting them above the hubbub of the garden.  As much as sunflowers cheer us, though, they do much much more!

Even when they are a tad more than a seedling, the dark green leaves of sunflowers stretch out, enticing small birds - finches, tanagers - to feast.

Once their dinner plate sized blossom unfurls, pollinators partake.

The days pass and the sunflower's face becomes bigger and bigger, the petals shrinking ... until nibbles appear, signaling that the seeds must be drying.  Squirrels and bigger birds delight, chewing away the sun.

Seed to seed, sunflowers are THE ultimate wildlife plant.

Sure, we humans can be a bit picky about gnawed faces and shredded leaves.  Once I stepped back from the idea of an ideal sunflower, though, I saw the sunflower for what it was.  A miraculous life, spreading beauty, soaking up toxins, and providing food for species big and small.  Plant one - or ten - in your garden!

This post is part of the Tuesday Garden Party at Oregon Cottage, Maple Hill HopGreen Thumb Thursday and Homestead Barn Hop.


Heather said...

I just planted a sunflower patch in my yard this year. I mostly did this to save money because my husband has a sunflower seed habit (he always has a dish of them at his desk when he's working. He goes through AT LEAST a 1-lb. bag a week), but now I'm even more excited about them! They truly are an amazing plant.

Green Bean said...

That's a lot of sunflower seeds, Heather! Just be prepared to share! ;-) I started planting sunflowers a few years back for my chickens. I realized that I had to clip a few heads and let them dry in the garage and I left a few heads for the birds and squirrels. Happy growing! :)

daisy g said...

What a fantastic post! They are indeed a great food source. Thanks for sharing your outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop this week!

Betsy Escandon said...

Very convincing, as always. I'll add this to my imaginary garden to do list : )

Green Bean said...

@daisy g: Yes - great food source for wildlife, chickens and people! :)

@Betsy: Lol! I'll bet that is quite a list.

Anonymous said...

What was the name of the sunflower you planted. I've never gotten dinner plate size heads. I have planted this year Mammoth, I believe, but it hasn't flowered yet. I'm hoping that mammoth will give mammoth, dinner plate size heads - therefore living up to its name! :D

Dave said...

I grow sunflowers every year for the birds and the bees. I usually grow the Autumn Sun variety, and they are so pretty and popular with the wildlife!

Jami @ An Oregon Cottage said...

I agree! Something is wrong if I don't get a row of sunflowers planted in my garden - I especially like it when they reseed here and there. :)

Green Bean said...

@Anonymous - The best part about these sunflowers? They were volunteers!!! Three of them so I'm not sure the variety. They might have been mammoth because I planted those two years ago. Those will surely give you dinner plate sized heads. Good luck! :)

@Dave - Thanks for the tip. I'll have to put in some Autumn Sun next year. Hmm, can only find Autumn Beauty. Same thing?

@Jami - Indeed! These were reseeds. I felt so fortunate to see sunflowers already growing strong before it had even crossed my mind to plant them. And, they were kind enough to reseed themselves in a convenient location! :)

robbie @ going green mama said...

I miss sunflowers!! (Can you tell I' a Kansas girl??) May have to add to my garden for the coming year.

Green Bean said...

@robbie - Definitely you need to add them! :) What is happier than a row of sunflowers.

Franchesca said...

I grew a few in my garden this year and so glad I did. LOVED that you wrote on the glory of sunflowers in a garden. <3 !!

Lisa Murano said...

I love sunflowers! I grew Teddy Bear sunflowers last year, but this is my first year growing full sized sunflowers. I can't wait till they start to bloom!

Thanks for sharing at Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you'll stop back and link up again this week!


Green Bean said...

@Franchesca - Thank you! Really, what is better than sunflowers in the garden! :)

@Lisa: Teddy Bear sunflowers are so cute! I should grow those again. I love to have a variety of sunflowers - all sizes, colors! Thank you for hosting Green Thumb Thursday!


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