A Slice of My Life

Wild sunflowers line my garden with a cheerful living fence.

About four years ago, I noticed a knee-high sunflower plant growing right next to the trailer we use to haul hay. It was late summer, and I knew that the plant would be run over when it was time to go buy our winter supply of hay, so I thought I'd see if I could transplant it to a better spot.

I love sunflowers, but I've never been terribly successful at growing them from seed. Purposefully, I mean. Before we moved to Oak Hill, a few seeds fell from the bird feeder and grew. I kind of like the "wild look" so I let them grow alongside the pole that held the feeder. When they were about five feet tall they developed huge, beautiful sunflower blooms. I stored those ripened, dried seed heads and gave them to my chickens over the winter.

But all the sunflower seeds I've planted since that day have failed to grow. I only seem to be able to "grow" the wild sunflowers, the ones that honestly grow without any help from me.

Cultivate wildflowers and sunflowers and surround your garden with a living fence.

So this little plant that a bird planted four years ago in front of our trailer was transplanted to the edge of my vegetable garden. And it worked! You can transplant sunflowers, at least if you do it early enough. 

It grew and grew sort of like Jack's beanstalk. I've seen plenty - thousands - of these wild sunflower plants growing along the side of the road, but I hadn't realized how tall they grow. Six, eight, ten feet high. A dozen or more four-inch-diameter flowers per plant. 

The flowers aren't large, but when they grow en masse, they are still impressive. And a vaseful of them in the kitchen is cheery, even though they drop pollen on the countertop.

Wild sunflower against the sky.

And they thrive even in our dry, hot Oklahoma summers. 

In the fall I pull the plants and let the goats feast on them. But the early blooms have already dried and dropped their seeds, so each year I have more and more plants at the edge of the garden. 

This year they are also clustered in an unused raised bed. Hubby built this garden bed but I haven't had enough soil to fill it completely, so I haven't purposefully planted anything in it. The sunflowers took it over, and this year I have a lovely sunflower patch waving its cheerful blooms in the summer breezes.

Close-up of wild sunflower blossom.

In a few weeks they'll begin the inevitable drying up that comes with autumn. The gold finches will devour the seeds, but not before enough fall to the ground to ensure another patch next year.

I'm not complaining. If I can get that raised bed filled with soil so that I can plant vegetables in it, I'll transplant the sunflower seedlings to a better place. I've discovered that I'm very fond of these wild flowers.

Last week's Slice of My Life


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