Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nature Notes: Burning Rings of Fire

Salutation to the Sun

It's been a while since I've gone exploring. Mother Nature is in the throes of a massive hot flash, and I avoid Her when She gets like that. But the garden has given me something to share this week, besides cucumbers and beans: Sunflowers!

This is the first year I have grown them, and getting to know sunflowers has been a revelation. There have been good surprises and bad surprises. Such as:

1. Sunflowers do not actually follow the sun. I planted them around a post in the center of the vegetable garden, to the north of the house. I expected to watch from the kitchen windows as their big, golden heads tracked the sky. Turns out, only the buds do that. The flowers always face east - all of them, all the time. So my view from the house is perpetually edge-on. Dang.

2. Sunflowers do not play well with others. Especially pole beans. All parts of the plant exude chemicals that inhibit the growth of many other plants, so their position in the center of the vegetable garden was probably ill advised.

3. On the plus side, the huge, spiky buds are unexpectedly fabulous, and the petals open in a kind of strip tease, slowly revealing their miraculously spiraled centers.


4. Bumblebees adore Sunflowers. I have never seen so many in one place. As bumblebees are reported to be in decline, it is a joy to see them. They all but wallow in the pollen, purring like well-fed kittens.


5. Sunflowers can clean up contaminated soil and water. They remove lead, arsenic, uranium, and harmful bacteria. They were used to help remediate radioactivity at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

6. Best of all, as my husband observed, "They do make you smile, don't they."

* P.S. May 1 is International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day. Mark your calendar and go forth. Just remember to plant them facing east.

     But wait, there's more!
Visit Michelle and her guests at Rambling Woods for weekly Nature Notes.


Karen said...

Aren't these grand! Beautiful photos!

Sivinden said...

Wonderful sunflowers!

Donna said...

Wonderful facts. I have a huge sunflower that has come up in the bean bed every year now and it does not inhibit my pole beans at all. They are growing like crazy. They do make you smile :)

Carver said...

Beautiful sunflowers and interesting information.

eileeninmd said...

I love the sunflowers, they are one of my favorites. Beautiful photos!

Debbie said...

WoW...nothing says summer like beautifully photographed sunflowers!

EG CameraGirl said...

I agree with your husband. They make me smile. :)

Rambling Woods said...

Oh how green with envy I am.... I love these.... Thank you for the fern I'd.... I would love some... Michelle

Daryl said...

so lovely, you've done a wonderful job capturing these