Now that the soil has (finally) warmed up, sunflowers are growing like Jack's beanstalk - you can almost see them sprout taller every day. I love sunflowers nearly as much as the bees that buzz around their cheerful faces and the birds that fight over their seeds in autumn.
There's something so heartening, so iconic about any daisy flower - we respond emotionally to ray-like, dark-centered flower faces almost like they belonged to a baby or a puppy. And sunflowers are daisies on steroids, with wide-spreading silky petals springing out from fat, chocolate-colored centers. Add that to their magnetic powers to attract birds, bees, and butterflies, the totemic sense of presence their dramatic height brings to the garden, and their charming habit of turning their faces to soak up the sun, like the most dedicated teenage sunbather at the beach, and how not to be hooked on sunflowers?
You can grow sensuously dark, silky sunflowers like 'Moulin Rouge' or 'Chocolate Cherry' (left) or the short, shaggy 'Teddy Bear'. Then there's the true yellow 'Lemon Queen' or the 16 foot tall, giant 'Sunzilla'. Check out Renee's Seeds for a great selection - it's not too late to plant for autumn bloom.
Log House Plants in Cottage Grove, Oregon supplies local nurseries with a fine selection of unusual sunflowers...or how about 'Italian White' (left), sweet and delicate for a sunflower, or the first sunflower I've seen with really pretty foliage, the Japanese Silver-Leaf (below) both from Annie's Annuals and Perennials?