27 July 2008

Bombed Bumblebees

Sunflowers are one of the plants that I had little interest in. Not any more. While visiting a garden at dusk four years ago, the sunflowers growing around the vegetables contained motionless bumblebees on the seed clusters. The gardener concluded that the bees were probably intoxicated on the pollen. One could pet the fuzzy gluttonous critters who moved just enough to acknowledge the touch without being able to fly away.

Over that past four years, I found that the world of sunflowers was more than tall and yellow - so many different sizes, colors, shapes, textures for the garden. Dwarf varieties are best suited for the garden here, although there is a cautious aspiration to try a tall variety next year.

The newest sunflower smiling these days is Sunny Smile (helianthus annuus). Two new dwarf varieties were planted this spring, and Sunny Smile was first to win the race to bloom. Over the past few years, the dwarf 'Sunspot' was planted, and comparing the two, Sunny Smile's 18-inch height (50 cm) is a little shorter, and its petals better proportioned to its central seed cluster. Sunspot grew normal-sized blossoms (normal for tall varieties) with oversized centers containing lots of seeds for the birds. On the downside, all varieties tend to attract night-loving, leaf-eating pests; probably slugs.

It's funny that these new flowers are always facing east, and do not follow the sun throughout the day. Sun in this location comes from the south and west. This is not a complaint since the east is toward the house, where they can be admired from inside. Bumblebees have not tried my garden for Happy Hour.

For The Record:
  • Medium drained organic soil
  • Full sun
  • Little granular organic fertilizer

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: silver salvia, nicotiana, cosmos, sunflowers, canna, zinnias, liatris, dragon flower, crocosmia, castor
  • Harvested: 1 tomato


Bobbi said...
I love sunflowers - they are one of my favorite! I like the mammoth ones and the tiny teddy bear ones, as well as the bronze and lime colored ones.
Swimray said...
I plant extra sunflowers for cutting, but can't bring myself to cut them. I also save the seeds for the birds through winter - a treat for the cardinals. Never had any luck with the lime ones.