Tag Archives: sunflower

Seniors, School Boards and Sunflowers

Well that title certainly should catch your attention.  What could they possibly have to do with one another?  Nothing much except the first two has been needing my attention a lot lately, keeping me out of the garden.

The “seniors” refer to my twin boys who are seniors in high school this year.  With that comes the college adventure; trips, research and then applications.  We’ve been all around looking at schools for them this summer and fall.

Georgia Tech Walking to the Sky

UW Madison University Maryland College Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read everything under the sun to hopefully find just the right matches, and now it’s time to buckle down and get those applications out.

“School Board” refers to what happens when you get a low turn out for a local election during a teacher contract year.  Long story short, there was a lot of friction between the board and teachers, leading to a potential teacher strike threatening to derail my kids’ senior year, college application process and XC running season.  Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time writing emails and attending school board meetings.  Looks like we have a solution, still crossing my fingers unit the contracts are signed.

Sunflowers, well, they just make me happy and they’ve been a fun addition to my garden this year.

I thought I was going to be able to save some heads for some winter bird treats after the bees and butterflies were done with them.

Sunflowers

 

Tiger Swallowtail

 

Tiger Swallowtail

But a couple of weeks ago, the seed-heavy heads just started disappearing.

Sunflowers

In only a few days they were all gone.  Cleanly cut as though they’d been harvested with shears.  I would love to know where they went, since earlier in the summer if one was taken down, whatever the critter was tended to set it next to the garden and shred it to pieces.  These were hauled away for winter storage no doubt.

So, after looking at the headless stalks for far too long (see reasons above), I figured I’d better cut them down.  I hadn’t realized how thick giant sunflower stems are.  I needed to head to the shed to get some bigger clippers.

Sunflowers

And a bigger shovel.

Sunflowers

The sunflowers are done for the year.  I’m looking forward to them again next year.  Are you starting to remove things from the garden yet?

 

 

August Sunflowers

In the back of my new raised beds, I planted a row of sunflower seeds. They have grown like gangbusters.

Sunflower

I love looking out the kitchen window and seeing these cheerful flowers lining the view behind the zinnias and marigolds.  The summer vegetables are hidden in between.

Sunflowers

Not sure why, but over the last couple of weeks many have tipped over.  Maybe not enough fertilizer to help grow strong roots, too close together, too windy or stormy?

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

But no matter, the flower heads keep facing the sun, despite the odd positions they find themselves in.

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

I staked some of them up so they didn’t lay on the ground.

Sunflower

Sunflowers

At at least 10 ft tall, I had to get creative with this giant one.  It was too tall for any of my stakes, so I got it nice and tangled in the tree branches.

Sunflowers

While the birds, chipmunks and squirrels have enjoyed the summer treat, I hope I have some heads left to put out this winter.

Summer Sunflowers

Normally this time of year, I would be commenting on how the summer heat has been taking its toll on the garden.  Not this year, though.  The gardens have responded to these cooler than normal July temperatures by being one explosion of color after another.  Right now it’s the sunflower’s turn to show off.

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

 

IMG_8568

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

While we were enjoying the beauty of the sunflowers, others were enjoying them in other ways…

Considering how far these were dragged, I assume the squirrels feasted on these two heads.

Sunflower

And the birds have been frequent visitors to this “bird feeder”!

Sunflower
 

 Photo credits:  All but the last 2 photo were taken by my husband, Steve!

After Vacation

Stephi Gardens

After a wonderful beach vacation and some college tours, we’re finally back home. As expected, the weather has been crazy while we were gone. The temperatures were just about average, but rainfall was almost double the normal amount. Included in this total was a single storm that dumped almost 2 inches of rain in under 2 hours and knocked out our power for almost 15 hours. Nothing like being on vacation and getting the call that the basement is flooded. Thank goodness for friends who went above and beyond to help.

So how did the garden fare? Quite well actually. With the fairly constant rain and average temperatures (and in some cases even a bit below average), I came home to a bit of a jungle. The last few years, by July we’ve been struggling with hot/dry conditions and the plants begin struggling. Not this year! I think I’ve had the sprinklers on once and that was just to test the system. Here’s some after vacation shots…

Many of the flowers are in full bloom and flourishing with the moderate temperatures and plenty of rain.  Although, I did miss most of the asiatic lily’s blooms.  They are mostly finished for the season.

zinnia

Notice how beautiful the creeping thyme looks (Problems with Creeping Thyme).  Still waiting for the hummingbirds to find my flowers and feeder.

Stephi Gardens

The Purple Rooster Bee Balm is still blooming and attracting bees.   But now the accompanying Jackmanii Clematis and Pardon Me daylilies are also blooming.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

 

daylilies and Russian sage

With all the rain , this garden is doing well despite the change from full shade to full sun.

annabelle hydrangea

The sunflowers have become gigantic!  Before we left they were probably only about 4 ft tall (see Before Vacation), now they are easily 7 ft-8 ft and attracting lots of bees.

sunflowers

The vegetable gardens are flourishing, but need some attention to prune back some of the wildness.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

I have a nice bunch of bush beans to harvest.

bush beans

The lettuce is still hanging in there. My idea to plant them in the partly shady corner of the garden has paid off.

lettuce

First time for cabbage and they’re looking great.

cabbage

Cucumbers were slow to get going, but I’ll have plenty soon enough.

cucumber

Zucchini and summer squash are plentiful.  Hoping to get some small tender ones harvested before they turn into baseball bats (see Giant Zucchini).  Somehow I’ve lost the garden markers labelling the squash varieties, so it’s a bit of a mystery what all the different squashes are.

zucchini

So, overall, I’d say everything fared pretty well this year (definitely better than the basement).   Looking forward to the continued blooms and vegetable harvests!

Me and my giant sunflowers!

sunflowers