Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Perennial Sunflowers

Fall is fast approaching, though it sure doesn't feel like it! This is the ideal time to plant for the spring, assess what went right and what didn't, and to enjoy a mature garden. Fall is my favorite season in general and in the garden. One of my favorite flowers I discovered a few years ago is Helianthus maximillianii, aka Narrow Leafed Sunflower. This sunflower is NOT to be confused with Helianthus tuberosus, aka Jerusalem Artichoke. Jerusalem artichokes spread around quite vigorously (or so I am told) and are hard to eradicate. Maximillian sunflowers will spread but are easy to pull out in my garden if I don't want them. I ordered a few plants mail order about three years ago in the fall, planted them in a part sun garden under a mature oak tree and hoped for the best.

The site is challenging and not much grows there. These sunflowers not only bloomed but have seeded themselves around and have bloomed every year. These sunflowers are perennial and birds love them. They do not require much watering. Above is a picture of them backlit by the eastern sun. Backlighting is really big in gardening now and if you can, try to highlight those small gifts Mother Nature gives us by capitalizing on them-like the sun! Any plant that is light and airy can be backlit effectively. Grasses work especially well too. Those who drive by my house on a daily basis will surely recognize these flowers as they are right by the road. So if you were wondering what they were-now you know!

in the garden.....


  1. They are beautiful Tina! I have a funny to share with you on the sunflower topic. I have mentioned while in Germany we had a Gartenplatz, well the German friends had never had experience with a garden before so it was a total learning experience for them and a “patience with them” experience for the Saint and I... I planted sunflowers and was ecstatic as to how beautiful they were and how well they grew. Once they started to fall over, I plucked each bloom and carefully hung them into the chain link fence for the birds. I had a lot of blooms so this took some time to get them all into the fence. A few days later I went into the garden and all the blooms were gone! When I inquired as to where the sunflowers went, our friend informed us that they had removed them because they heard sunflowers would attract birds and the birds would eat all the seeds they planted in the ground! I was furious but held my temper as I knew they did not know any better. I informed them that most birds do NOT dig up buried seeds from a garden but do eat tons of bugs that are bad for a garden! Oh, they said. I never planted sun flowers in the Gartenplatz again. That was too sad for me…. A few other incidents such as this and we had to do something. We finally came to an agreement, we tend to what we plant and you tend to what you plant. It worked out great the remainder of our time in Germany. This agreement was made once I went to pick my zucchini and it was all gone! They later bragged that they had a freezer full of zucchini but did not know what to do with it as they had never seen zucchini before… Argggggg, after a few weeks I gave them a zucchini casserole recipe. I told you it was a Patience experience for us!

  2. Oh my goodness! Your gardening neighbors were pretty bold to remove all of those sunflowers you took so long to hang! I would have been "upset" too. That's funny. Birds are always good for the garden and do eat a lot of insects-but they do dig up seeds. I had planted a few trays of gourds and other things on my deck last summer hoping for a good crop. No way! The finches had dug up all of the seeds and knocked stuff over. I know it wasn't a squirrel because I saw them there and in the vegetable garden. I like to try to plant a few extra seeds for the critters as well as for me. It usually works out. I haven't had bad luck this year though. Did they really pick all of your zucchini then brag about it?! Good thing you all came to an understanding.

  3. Well, let me explain a bit on picking the zucks... They were our partners in the garden experience. In the beginning we had a group of 7 of us that decided to get a Gardenplatz. So the German of the bunch, Maria found one for us and did what all it took to acquire the place, like the communicating! Then we all would evenly pitch in on the money aspect and plant whatever we wanted to. Well, her daughter decided she was in on the venture also (without paying for anything of course) She took it upon herself to tend to other peoples stuff without their approval. We all had it in mind to plant what you like and tend what you planted, well, except for them. They had never done such an adventure before so did not understand how it worked. It was pretty much an unspoken thing amongst us as we all knew how to share in a garden. Steve was proud of his tomatoes until they heard about suckering them. Maria “suckered” them back to nothing more then one long stem with no leaves on them! She striped them clean of leaves! He was so mad that he bowed out of the garden and only showed up for grill parties. Dave and Lynn’s corn was mildewed from them over watering so they too bowed out… They slowly but surely ran everyone off one by one by doing such silly things. They saw my zucchini which they thought to be ready so they picked it all and then stuck it in their freezer. In their minds, who ever picked crops, got to keep them. I had to explain to them that we were all in this together as paying partners but we should all tend our own plantings and only reap what we have sown. They then got it, we did share with them as they with us but we had to teach them that! Arggggg. One time they dug out my beautiful wildflowers so they could plant grape vines! That really made me mad as did the time I went out there and found my 2 Rose of Sharon trees in the compost pile! They said they were dead from the winter so they dug them out and composted them. I had to explain to them they were dormant for the winter! Duh… Was frustrating but we got it all worked out. In the end we lost on the entire thing as we invested a ton of money in that place and we left Germany leaving it behind to them and them alone. But they still enjoy it and have learned from it so I recon we did our part in making some good German-American relations….