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Cottage Garden Spotlight: Sunflowers

When we moved into this house (originally as renters) five years ago, there were a pair of sunflower-pattern curtains hanging in the back porch window, left behind by the previous tenants…. I promptly took them down. I disliked sunflowers.

Now I am asking myself, “Why?”

I vaguely recall associating sunflowers with the country-kitchen decor (which also includes pigs, cows, and roosters) that I never cared for.
Maybe I was turned off by their gaudy, bright yellow blooms, or their height?
Maybe they reminded me of big red barns and cornfields, whereas my taste in flowers leans towards elegant English beauties like tea roses, lavender, hollyhocks, and foxgloves.

Honestly, I don’t remember what my initial reasons were. Suffice it to say, I love sunflowers now!

Giant sunflower heads

Last year, Joe bought a seed packet of sunflowers as a contribution to my cottage garden. I rolled my eyes, and likely said, “Seriously?!”
Sunflowers were *NOT* part of my original plan.

He liked them, however, so we compromised by growing sunflowers in our backyard alongside my veggie garden.

Sunflowers growing near clothesline

They are annuals, but are so easy to grow from seed that even hungry birds will plant volunteer sunflowers for you!

Over the summer, I began to appreciate how the sunflowers grew quickly, how their limbs were attractive perches for birds, and how ~ dare I say, gracefully? ~ they drooped over my clothesline.

Sunflowers hanging laundry

My mind was decided on including sunflowers into my backyard garden this year, and I even purchased two different seed varieties to accompany the seeds I collected from our original batch.
I planted them on both sides of the backyard fence, although a few of them struggled under the shade of my neighbor’s tree.

Sunflowers and hanging laundry

Although I love the colorful backdrop they create behind my hanging laundry, they do tend to present a challenge because they are constantly getting in the way!
A few smaller sunflowers even grew directly underneath my clothesline, popping up between the shirts and towels!

Sunflower in my laundry

I tell myself that, next year, I will be ruthless and pull out any stray sunflower seeds that grow too close, or interfere with the functionality of my clothesline.

I have a feeling, though, that I will be merciful and allow them to remain. They are too cute to pull!
Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck transplanting them.

Sunflowers blooming

Since we still haven’t been able to afford a nice wooden picket fence for the front yard, I chose to plant sunflowers in my front garden, too!

They make a nice “living fence” during the summer.
Sunflower living fence

I do have to remember that they create a great deal of shade with their giant leaves, and my poor zinnias and coneflowers are getting lost among their foliage.

I have had several people complimenting me on them. People are really surprised to see how quickly they grow!
I planted these seeds in mid-April, and by late June, they were 9′-10′ tall!

Sunflowers growing tall

I swear, they seem to grow a foot taller every week! I often wonder if I sat outside on a pleasant afternoon, and watched them for several hours, I might be able to see them growing with my naked eyes. :P

Bee on a sunflower

Bees and birds just love them! Their cheerful color and sheer size is guaranteed make people stop in their tracks and smile. :)

If you have a sunny spot in your garden or yard, I would enthusiastically encourage you to give sunflowers a try! They are a lot of fun!

Sunflowers in cottage garden

Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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