Sunday, January 26, 2014

I See the Sun

Sunflowers that is.

The crescent garden behind the garage was intended to become a perennial flower bed.  Best laid plans and all that...  I haven't managed to put a single perennial in this bed since it was created three years ago.  Instead it has become an annual flower bed.  Dahlias, cosmos and sunflowers filled the space this year. 

Dahlias bookend a bed filled with orange cosmos and bright sunflowers
Prior to this garden I have never successfully grown a sunflower.  Too much shade in previous gardens.  Now that I have bright wide open spaces it is no longer an issue for me and I'm not content to grow just one.  I want a dozen.  A dozen different varieties that is.

I decided to spice things up this year by growing a variety of sunny blooms.  In early summer the first flowers to emerge were Ruby Eclipse. 


These pretty blooms feature red centers fringed with yellow.  The plants stand approximately 5 feet tall.  I found the actual stalk and leaves on this plant to be rather sparse.  Not so pretty in the garden then but perfect for cutting.  I had a similar issue with Chianti.


These were also early blooming and stood around 5 feet tall.  The plants were rather skimpy looking but the dark red blooms would be stunning in a bouquet. 

Once the cosmos began to bloom the bed became a sea of orange and yellow.  I wasn't paying close attention and almost missed these.


Teddybear sunflowers have very large blooms on a very tiny plant.  Mine only grew about a foot tall.  I had no idea they would be so small which explains why I almost missed them.


The teddybear in the photo above is standing off to the side so he was easy to spot but many of the teddybears got mixed in with the cosmos and became completely hidden from view.  Maybe the cosmos are just too tall?

From the shortest we go to the tallest.  The big blooms come right at the end of the summer season.

Giant sunflowers and dahlias decorate the far field in late summer
I have grown Giganteus for a couple seasons now with good results.  It's just an outrageously beautiful plant and flower.  I love how big and plentiful the leaves are and the blooms at 8 - 10 inches across never disappoint.


A new addition this season was Mammoth Grey Stripe.  At 10 - 12 feet high these are some of the biggest flowers I have ever grown.


I had to hold my camera up as high as I could and shoot blind to get this photo. 

Of all the varieties I have grown the giants are my favourite.  They are the classic sunflower.  Tall plants with big smiley flowers that I can see from my kitchen window, an acre away.  In the fall I love watching bluejays arrive to pick the flowers clean of seeds.  

Do you grow sunflowers?  What's your favourite variety?

43 comments:

  1. I don't have much sun to work with. I have tried to grow sunflowers. A few years ago I did some giant ones and I had to stake them. I haven't tried since then. I love seeing them.

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    1. When I tried to grow them in shade the plants were weak and they got eaten by slugs. So they are definitely a full sun kind of plant. I feel pretty fortunate I can grow them now.

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  2. I do grow and love Sunflowers. I think my favorite is 'Italian White' which is branched and about 5' tall. Sunflowers, Dahlias and Cosmos are such a wonderful combination for late summer. Plus you should be very popular with the goldfinches!

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    1. I'll have to take a look for those - white sunflowers? interesting. Unfortunately the goldfinches never got a chance. I was out there every day collecting the cosmos seed so that I have plenty to share with fellow gardeners.

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  3. You will find funny the drawback I see to sunflowers. When you take down the giant sunflowers in the fall and lift up the roots, they seem to take away half the soil from your garden. Perhaps it is because of my clayish soil that can be sticky, but they leave huge holes you have to refill. You course I put the stems and roots on the compost heap and so get the soil back eventually, but the clumps of soil and roots are difficult to break up and take a long time to break down.
    Your bed of annuals must be very attractive and is no doubt very useful to provide cut flowers

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    1. Alain, I understand exactly what you're saying! Every spring when I clean out this bed huge clumps of soil come up with the sunflowers. As you note they take forever to break down in the compost heap but we have plenty of compost around here so I figure it's worth the trade off.

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  4. Your annual bed looks fantastic! Lately the only sunflower I've been growing is the silverleaf sunflower, a native of Texas that only gets 5-6 feet tall and has quite a graceful habit for a sunflower. One time in Pennsylvania I grew some volunteers from the bird feeder, and two were amazing many-branched sunflowers with sunny yellow flowers that opened up all at once and seemed to last forever. I haven't come across one quite like those again.

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    1. Thank you! I had a volunteer sunflower this year too. I think, like yours, it was dropped by a bird. very pretty but no idea what sort of flower it was.

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  5. How lovely...such beautiful flowers to brighten my day. Thanks Marguerite!

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  6. Your flowers look fantastic!! I have always loved sunflowers. I want to visit a field of sunflowers someday.

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    1. me too Keith, can't imagine how gorgeous a whole field of them would be.

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  7. Seeing your sunflowers on this gray winter day is a wonderful pick-me-up. They are lovely! Thanks.
    I've grown a lemony-colored sunflower - cannot recall the name - with some luck but some years I find resident chipmunk climbing the stalks to get to the seed. It's amusing to watch but annoying when the little buggers break the stalks!

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    1. Interesting, I've never seen chipmunks around my blooms but maybe the cats keep them away? The bluejays seem to have no trouble getting what they want though.

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  8. That photo of the Giganteus is stunning! The sky is such a deep blue. My dad always grew a row of sunflowers but I never have....yet! As usual I didn't know there were so many varieties...and sizes!

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    1. Jody loves that photo too, it's his screen saver :)

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  9. Lovely! We grew teddy bears last year and my little son used to go out and pat them and talk to them. Lol

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  10. I added sunflowers the year before last and now they pop up in the oddest places. I love the Teddybear sunflowers and want to add them this spring if possible. I did not realize how short they were! I will have to keep that in mind.

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    1. lucky you Jennifer! that's one thing I haven't managed yet. Mine never reseed. I blame the critters for eating up every single seed.

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  11. I grew the giant sunflowers a couple of years ago - they were so impressive! Maybe I'll grow them again this year! Teddy Bear looks so sweet - and you're right about the plant looking good, too. Chianti, though, is such a gorgeous red! I've been dreaming of a cutting garden - she would be perfect!

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    1. Had I been a little more organized this year I would have cut Chianti for bouquets. It really is an amazing colour.

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  12. I adore sunflowers, I really enjoy growing the slightly shorter branching type, they deliver so many gorgeous flowers for a single seed. I've not grown them in this garden yet, too windy out front, not enough room - yet - in the suntrap back. One day, though, I will grow an array of glorious rust and orange ones, to partner with dahlias and make me smile. Not to mention feeding the birds later on.

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    1. I have a soft spot for those orangey rust coloured sunflowers. haven't grown any yet but perhaps this year?

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  13. I love the dark red sunflowers, Marguerite, but have been pretty rubbish at growing them! I too have suffered from massive Cosmos dwarfing smaller flowers, so this year I have a Cunning Plan! I am going to grow dwarf cosmos as well as my usuals! You can never have too many!!

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    1. Great plan!! I love cosmos in all colours. Such gorgeous flowers and so easy to grow.

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  14. Good Morning Marguerite, I'm popping over to see your lovely sunflowers today and imagining them growing about. Last year we had a wind that took down my sunflowers because I'd put way too much mulch compost and the root system wasn't secure enough, I'm thinking. But in the past I've pulled up large clumps when I remove them in the Fall, seems like such a waste. Have you ever left the root ball in place, would it compost or just stay hardend? I haven't seen you visit in a long time and I'm going to be bold as to put my address here in hopes that you will come over for a visit. http://hats-n-hospitalitea-cindy.blogspot.com/2014/01/grow-your-blog-party-giveaway.html. I'm planning to have a garden party hopfully iin. The spring or later and wonder if you would like to attend?

    I love Cosmos, can't seem to get them going. When I was in Ontario they were growing like crazy, just because I've changed zones I wonder if I've also changed thumbs. Have a wonderful week, hope to see you soon,
    Cindy

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    1. I pull my sunflowers each spring, they do leave a hole but it's easily filled with compost. They take quite a lot to break down in the compost pile so I don't think leaving the root would be advisable.

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  15. I can't wait to have sunflowers in the garden again. We always lose a number of them to voles and gophers, but I love seeing their cheery heads in mid-summer. Your Mammoth Grey Stripe looks awesome. I tried growing those last year, but that entire row was wiped out by fuzzy gnawing rodents last year shortly after germination. If we actually get some rain in the next month or so though, I'd love to try again. They're great bird food if nothing else!

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    1. clearly I've been lucky to get my sunflowers to grow! Now that you mention it I'm surprised they don't get taken out by mice more often. Sunflower sprouts are one of my favourite foods so I can understand why the rodents would like them too.

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  16. I love sunflowers but except for the bird seed that germinates, I don't grow them. Instead, I grow heliopsis and lots of rudbeckia, which are smaller. But since the first two you mentioned - which are so beautiful - have sparse foliage, I wonder if they would be easy to slip into a garden that has other plants to hide their lower stalks. Your flower garden is beautiful! What a wonderful sight to see out the window. :o)

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    1. Thanks Tammy! I imagine it would be easy to slip a flower or two into your beds. The lower leaves tend to shrivel up as they grow so they would likely make a great companion to other flowers.

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  17. Marguerite girl !
    What a gorgeous post to see on a cold WHITE winter day !
    I love that you keep planting annuals there .. you can experiment with different sunflowers and cosmos and what ever annuals you have ever been curious about ?
    You have convinced me that I should plant a few sunflowers/cosmos again .. it has been a few years, so now I better stick to the plan so I can see these gorgeous flowers too!
    Joy : )

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    1. I've been surprised at how much I enjoy having an annual bed. I like that I can tear it apart each year though and try something new. It's kind of exciting to come up with new combinations each season.

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  18. I love these gorgeous tall beauties! I've never had much luck with sunflowers, because I've always planted them in the wrong place. I've envisioned them and hollyhocks in front of an old shed, but every year my husband forgets I've planted a few there and mows them down. You've given me the idea to plant some cosmos with them, too. And I'm going to be more diligent about reminding the Mower Man to stay away!

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    1. Rose, you read my mind. I thought sunflowers would look great by a shed too. I also put a row along our garage but unfortunately it turned into a wind vortex and knocked them all down. So much for that :(

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  19. I don't have a favorite sunflower, Marguerite. Each year I usually plant just one packet, and I choose a different variety each year. I think a bed for annuals is an excellent idea. I did that last year for the first time, intending to grow perennials hereafter. But I enjoyed the annuals so much I think I am going to continue with them. Warming posting on this cold, snowy day! P. x

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    1. Great idea trying something new each year. I'm really enjoying having an annual bed. I get to try all sorts of new things each year.

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  20. I've never grown sunflowers, but I do love seeing all those sunny yellows and golds during this cold, snowy winter. -Jean

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    1. What a winter hey Jean? this has been the coldest and snowiest winter we've had since we came here. I can't wait for spring at this point.

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  21. That bed is gorgeous with so much color. I plan to have some sunflowers in the garden this year. Each year I hope to have some and then forget to plant them. I have them on the list now. :)

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    1. They're beautiful and good for the pollinators!! If you have a sunny spot I would definitely recommend them.

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  22. Wonderful post.

    Sunflowers are some of my absolutely favorite annuals.

    The best variety I've grown so far was Autumn Beauty - wonderful for attracting bees and birds (and OK, squirrels too)

    This year, I'm looking forward to trying Lemon Queen - http://www.seedsavers.org/onlinestore/Sunflowers/Sunflower-Lemon-Queen-OG.html

    Have you tried any of the perennial sunflowers? I grew the perennial variety of Lemon Queen (a horse of a different color despite the identical common name) and was VERY impressed - http://www.gardensinthewood.com/helianthus-lemon-queen.html

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