16 August 2008

Fuzzy Punk Rocker

Without a lot of room in the garden to spare, dwarf sunflowers are becoming more and more intriguing. They grow fairly large blooms for such little guys, and after blooming, end up leaving goodies for the birds. This year, two new shorties were given a chance, and the second of the two is now blooming.

Starburst Lemon Aura sunflower (Helianthus annuus) ended up not resembling the catalog description very much. (Imagine that - bet this never happens to any other gardener's plans . . .) Surprise number 1 - can it really be considered a dwarf after it grows to six feet (1.8 m) tall? It used to be listed in the short sunflower section of Park Seeds online catalog. This is a good thing, since the taller height actually looks better in its present location after all.

Surprise number 2 - No brown centers. All the plants produced large, fuzzy, lemon yellow blossoms. This is also a good thing since they don't have any of the brown 'rotting center look' found in the catalog photo. Does the marketing department think their photo is attractive and will sell more seeds?

Surprise number 3 - the multiple side blossoms (although not numerous) are almost as big as the original main blossoms, and with stems long enough for cutting. The only drawback is that the leaves look dried and diseased this late in the summer, and I don't know why. If they remained healthy, the plants might have grown taller.

All things considered, the punk-rock, 'needs a shave' appearance of this variety did not approximate the catalog, but that was a good thing. They will be invited back next year.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil
  • Full sun
  • Peat and hummus manure fertilizer

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: silver salvia, nicotiana, cosmos, sunflowers, canna, zinnias, castor, basil
  • Harvested: 14 tomatoes