May 7th, 2018
If there’s one flower that shouts SUMMER then it’s got to be the beautiful sunflower, don’t you agree? And while they don’t grow wild here in Snowdonia, we’re sure you’ll be able to spot some in gardens and window boxes whilst you’re out and about.
Thank goodness that the long, white winter months have at last given way to sunny, hazy days and the onset of glowing summer months. We’re hoping for a sunshine filled summer this year, and we’re anticipating long, hot evenings sipping cool wine in the beer garden; lazy weekends in the park and of course any excuse to fire up the barbeque!
But, if the weather doesn’t quite live up to expectations, there’s one sure way to fill your senses with sunshine – today we’re celebrating the sunflower; possibly the nation’s favourite, and cheeriest summer flower.
The sunflower is thought to come from Mexico, about four and a half thousand years ago, and for indigenous Americans, such as the Aztecs and Incas, the bright yellow heads were used to symbolise their sun gods. Spanish explorer Fransisco Pizarro first brought seeds back to Europe in the sixteenth century.
Today, sunflowers are famed for their full and happy flowers, but they are of course, also grown for their seeds, which are widely used as a foodstuff all over the world. But did you know that every year on May 1st“guerilla gardeners” all over the world plant sunflower seeds in rundown public spaces as a celebration of summer fertility and to try and aesthetically improve areas, as well as getting local communities involved. You can find out more at www.guerrillagardening.org
To grow properly, sunflowers need a huge amount of sunlight, but they are generally easy and quick to grow. They are renowned for growing to gigantic heights, but for extra towering proportions, choose a variety such as the moonwalker and the Russian giant.
Sunflowers also need to be well supported, because as they grow, they get heavier and heavier, so don’t forget some well erected stakes and canes if you plant any seeds in the garden this summer. They also grow just as well in pots, so are ideal for small gardens or yards. Sunflowers like rich soil, and they like plenty of water.
But, if growing them isn’t your thing, then the flowers are widely available to buy. Because of their tall shape and arching necks, sunflowers look great in tall, narrow vases, so that just a few centimetres of stem and then the head show above the top of the vase. They’ll need to be topped up with water regularly, and they are best kept in cool, shady areas.
So, come with us to celebrate summer and happy times, and let the sunflowers bring in the sunshine!
Did you know……
The sunflower’s Latin name is Helianthus