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.