Sunflowers Follow the Sun

Because I lived in Southeast Alaska for almost twenty years, where it rained nearly 200 inches a year, my growing was limited to shade gardens nestled in terraced beds back of our cabin that faced the sea.

Our Wizard's Cottage in Southeast Alaska
Our Wizard’s Cottage in Southeast Alaska

 

Fern-like astilbe and feathery plumes in cool colors, purple moisture loving primroses, and mammoth four-foot tall and four foot-foot wide hosta sporting a flagpole of soft white blossoms — signaled late summer in Alaska.

 

But, childhood favorites like hollyhock and sunflower I could never grow, because it was too wet.

 

It has been three years since I left Alaska. We’ve bought a farm, refurbished an old barn, built a house, and had one unsuccessful venture growing tomatoes. You may recall the bins I flooded last year by leaving the water on overnight; well, that is not what killed the tomatoes. We are not certain, but we think they were affected by herbicide drift or herbicide residue in the soil we used, because the tomatoes grew deformed, then shriveled, and they never set fruit.

 

It was too disappointing to write about.

 

This year I am trying again. I brought in good soil from Dirt Huggers a local organic soil and compost company, and I’m slowly experimenting (again) with growing tomatoes and flowers from seed.

 

In an effort to do something for the bees and bumblebees, I also planted a garden to feed the bees. The sunflowers in this bee-feed garden are now 8 inches tall, and today I realized that sunflowers follow the sun. They face the sun when it rises in the east, and this is when I see them, because I water early in the morning. Because they were leaning so heavily toward the sun in the morning I feared they would grow bending toward the creek (east), and when they got tall, they would topple.

June 2014 - Mule Springs Garden. It looks a little tidier this year, since we put down bark chips, and we added three more apple bins to hold soil. Eleven tomato plants -- both plum and round slicers. The bins are an experiment-- does the soil get too hot? And what about those black plastic liners? Do those liners leach anything into the soil?  We don't know.
June 2014 – Mule Springs Garden. It looks a little tidier this year, since we put down bark chips, and we added three more apple bins to hold soil. Eleven tomato plants — both plum and round slicers. The bins are an experiment– does the soil get too hot? And what about those black plastic liners? Do those liners leach anything into the soil? We don’t know.

 

Yet, tonight, I noticed, when the final rays of sun struck from the barn side, the young sunflowers were turned in the opposite direction away from the creek (west) and toward the setting sun. When I saw this, I realized that sunflowers must follow the sun.

 

What a wonderful thing. A young sunflower’s green face smiles as its body bows to greet the morning sun and the sunflower keeps on smiling and turning and bending to catch the last bit of sun rays as yellow light dims to orange, then red, and then dips behind the horizon.

Bee Garden-- Bee Feed Mix from Territorial Seed-- "twenty types of flowers specially selected for their nectar and pollen-producing ability." I added sunflowers; it's 2:00 p.m., and they are already beginning to slant away from the creek and toward the barn where the sun will eventually set hours from now.
Bee Garden– Bee Feed Mix from Territorial Seed– “twenty types of flowers specially selected for their nectar and pollen-producing ability.” I added sunflowers; it’s 2:00 p.m., and they are already beginning to slant away from the creek and toward the barn where the sun will eventually set hours from now.