Over the summer I planted a small patch of sunflowers in my yard. I started them by sprouting a handful of sunflower seeds from the birdseed that I keep in my bird feeder, then transferred the seedlings to a fresh patch of dirt near my fence where they would get sunlight almost all day. Most of them grew big and strong, and the largest three had huge flowers as big as a tea saucer! (I nicknamed them Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal, after the dragons on Game of Thrones.)
I love sunflowers for lots of reasons. I love that a small plain little seed can grow into such a big, tall, impressive plant. I love the huge, bright yellow flowers that brighten up a summer garden and feed the honeybees. And I love that they produce hundreds of nutritious and tasty seeds.
Sunflowers are a great example of the abundance of the universe! One seed produces a plant with flowers that provide lots of nectar and pollen for insects, as well as food and shelter for other bugs in the leaves and stems. When the flower is done, it matures into a seed-head with hundreds of new seeds that can either produce an entire crop of new plants, or they can provide a valuable and nutritious food source for birds and other animals. I love watching wild birds picking seeds from the dried flower, knowing that the food the sunflower provides will give them energy for the long journey south, or fatten them up to survive the coming winter. All this life-giving abundance from one tiny seed!
Even after the seeds are all gone, the plants themselves provide food for my chickens. The gobble up the leaves, and love to pick at the heads for anything the songbirds might have missed. Sunflowers give joy and life at every stage in their lives.
I plan to plant even more sunflowers next year, hopefully all along the length of my fence!
What are your favorite summer plants?
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