Thursday, October 09, 2008

Season's End

The sunflower season is pretty much over. I took this photo a few weeks ago on a lovely evening as the sun was setting over the field. I love the transparency of the Autumn Beauty Sunflower petals as the light filters through them. Those grey clouds behind the mingling plants, leaves, and blooms add a chaotic beauty to the scene.

At the very end of the season, most of the field looks dead and dried up - even before the frost has hit. The flowers have done their thing. But there's still life in the field. The bees and butterflies are still looking for nectar. Late September is when the birds come in in droves to pick away at the seed heads, hanging upside down from the plants, munching away.

The last sunflower variety to mature is the giant traditional mammoth sunflower called Lyng's Grey Stripe. We don't plant too many of these because they need a lot of room. But they sure do keep putting on a show, all season long. Every time I walk down a row full of these flowers, I can't help but be amazed. How can something so huge and dramatic grow from such a tiny seed! It boggles my mind every year.

Sunflowers are such a great project to take on with kids or just by yourself. They are cheap entertainment for a few minutes each day. Because they grow so fast, kids - big or little - can't get bored. The bonus at the end of the season, looking up at a giant plant with an amazing seed head, can't be beat. The extra activity you'll get in your garden or on a porch growing a sunflower in a 5 gallon bucket is entertainment too. You'll have all kinds of bugs and birds visiting your place daily.

The Farmer always plants a couple rows of the mammoth sunflowers at the very back of the field. It's a nice way to balance the field aesthetically. The giant sunflowers form a border between the hay field and the flowers. Having the biggest flowers at the back always reminds me of school picture day with the biggest kids in the back row.

By the end of the season, these big old guys start hanging their heads from the weight of the developing seeds. They become stooped over and almost mimic an elderly person. I like to think of them as the wise old plants of the field looking over all the rather rambunctious, brightly colored, flamboyant, noisy varieties we grow. These beauties just keep standing, giving quiet advice, until the season ends.

I just celebrated a rather monumental birthday. I'm working on my second half of my century now. I'm hoping I too, have gathered some wisdom over the years and that I can grow as gracefully as these beautiful plants do into a wise old woman.


Beth said...

Happy birthday, Kristin. I just had my 51st! Welcome to the second half century gang. And thanks for sharing the sunflowers with us. May you grow in grace and wisdom like them.

Arline said...

Happy Birthday! I'm with Beth, just had my 51st, too. So, welcome to the club!

I have really enjoyed the sunflower pictures this year. I have a large collection of sf pictures that become my screensaver pictures. LOVE them! Thank you!

Louise said...

Hi Kristin,

I just had my 50th too. It's wasn't nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. I hope yours was as gentle.

in France

caroline said...

Happy 50, Miz Libra! I'm heading for 54 in 3 weeks and absent a bit more creakiness in the morning, from a few years ahead of you I'd say things just get better and better. Hope your birthday was wonderful. and like the sunflowers, long may you shine!

Marlaine said...

Happy 50th Birthday! I recently turned 52 and can honestly say that I've never felt better about my life. I hope that you find the same is true for you.

Thanks for all the beautiful flower, farm, and animal photos. They brighten my day whenever I see them - as does all your artwork.

Michele in Maine said...

Happy Birthday! It's my 50th year too (and I have a ten year old who keeps me young, except when she's giving me gray hair!).

thanks for all the sunflower inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Kristin!!! I'm just a few years away from 50 but I hope I carry it off with as much style as you do. Much love
Amy G.

Kate G. said...

Happy Birthday. From reading your blog I would predict that you have a good shot at getting your birthday wish.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Kristin! Best wishes for the second half-century! Mine is next week; grace and wisdom are among my wishes, too. Thanks for all the wonderful and inspiring photos!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday from California!
Love that first photo - totally a dramatic fall!!!!

evie said...

Happy Birthday Kristin! I just turned 51 yesterday, still can't believe it, where did all the time go?

I've been enjoying your sunflower photos.

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I never considered sunflowers, with a lot that is about 32 feet wide (a city bus is 40 feet long). However, we have a little patch of yard in back between the house and garage.

The 5-gallon bucket idea is wonderful. Our soil is not so good, and the only way I can get tomatoes to grow is in containers on the landing of the back steps. May try a couple sunflowers in buckets next season. It sounds so fun.

I'll be 50 the day after Thanksgiving. It *is* odd to be here. My life is really wonderful, with a few hiccups thrown in just to make me grow and learn at times. Happy every day, every year... for many, many more.

LynnH in Lansing, MI where autumn colors are in full force

Mrs. Staggs said...

Hi Kristin,

These photographs are beautiful. I love the very first one, especially. The light shines through the flowers in such a wonderful way.

I'd never noticed the way that the taller sunflowers stoop in an elderly and wise way. Now I will always see that, thanks to you. I love that analogy.

Happy Birthday to you. I turned 51 last spring, and I'm finding that this side of life has many rewards, and I wish oh so many of them for you.

You are the epitome of wisdom and grace, dear Kristin.

Thalia said...

I hope you had a very happy birthday! I think that people who keep looking forward with adventure and interest, and want to keep learning, stay perpetually young, no matter what their physical form may do. :)

Deborah Newton said...

Happy birthday Kristin! For this one you get to celebrate all year long! It only gets better-- that has been my experience,

A TOAST TO YOU, and to all your marvelous creative endeavors-- from seeds and string to paints and pets!

Teresa said...

Happy Birthday. I arrived at the half century mark back in April and I can't say I feel a bit older.
I have enjoyed your sunflower pictures so much and look forward to seeing them again next year.