Last month I mentioned that I’d been over-optimistic about growing flowers in my backyard. As it has turned out, the sunflowers have provided the evidence for precisely what kind of conditions prevail across my patch during the course of a spring to autumn flowering season. I grew two varieties, Black Magic and Evening Sun, from seed and planted all the seedlings out at the same time in two different aspects.
There were seven seedlings planted at the end of the yard in a bed facing south-east and another seven grown in a narrow strip against the south-west facing fence.
Both varieties were supposed to grow to the top of the fence, about six feet tall, providing blooms that would be easy to cut. The plants in the back bed were weedy and only four made it to flowering, rather disappointing, and it has confirmed my suspicions that the soil in that bed is markedly impoverished. Yet both varieties in the south-west facing strip grew and grew and grew, and it became clear that they were obviously well fed, but was there more to it than that?
They all eventually flowered although the flowers at the top of these nearly 12 feet tall plants have not been easy to cut. Their unexpected height has been mostly due to a significantly richer soil in this bed. However, I can’t help but feel their height has also been as a response to the light shade that occurs during the couple of hours in the middle of the day courtesy of the neighbouring, fully grown eucalyptus tree.
Really, I should not moan as I have never had so many sunflowers all at once – almost enough to sell bunches from a bucket on my front steps!
As is often the way the yellower variety, Evening Sun, nearer to Mother Nature’s original, has grown and flowered more than my favourite the very dark red Black Magic.
Growing sunflowers has been a useful litmus test indicating the quality of growing conditions across my garden. Additionally, it has also turned out that the handful of them planted in the front garden weren’t up to much, but then I had seen what the builders had ‘tipped’ onto that small patch! At least next year I will have a much better idea of what to expect. And, with a bit of luck and after my efforts during this coming winter to improve the soil, I will have a small crop of medium height sunflowers easy to harvest.
Since I wrote this post on Monday the recent storm with high winds and heavy rain has brought down the tallest sunflower. That’s another pot needed then.
12 thoughts on “Sunflowers – A Litmus Test”
What a magnificent display: and lots of useful information for next season to boot.
Ta, the best thing about gardening is there’s always next year!
Lovely, lovely, lovely, your arrangements are a delight to the eyes.
Thank you very much. You can definitely understand Van Gogh’s obsession can’t you?
I love sunflowers and can’t grow them in my yard due to the deer. But I have done so in the past, at our other house, and this post reminded me of how nice it is to see them in a garden! I also found it interesting how you used them as a gauge for the soil conditions. Quite eye-opening. Looking forward to next year.
Yes, deer can be a real nuisance. I have seen the small muntjac ones we have locally leap a four feet fence with ease. Fortunately they are too nervous to venture into the more build up areas.
Our deer are brazen wanderers and will walk along a road (or jump into it into your car, that happens fairly often and the damage can be considerable to the car and of course the deer usually doesn’t survive ). There is no good solution to getting rid of them as controlled hunts can’t be held in the neighborhoods. I used to like deer, thought they were pretty, etc. Now I get very annoyed even seeing them. Anywhere!
Gosh I can see that’s all quite a problem and there’s no natural predators left like wolves roaming around.
Yes. People around here do not like deer anymore.
Well done with the gardening Agnes, beautiful colours.
Thank you. I find gardening very therapeutic.