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Whitehurst Diaries: Sunflowers are opening in Heat wave

Sunflowers, cherished by her Grampa Mac in Vermont and thriving plants in the high desert of her gardenless Wyoming, are bursting forth in full glory now in this torrid July of Gradyville, KY
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By Sharon Whitehurst

Sunflowers have begun to open in the heat wave.

The small, many branched natives were one of the few flowers which could thrive in the heat of Wyoming's high desert, sprawling along the dusty edges of a tarred road; during our dozen gardenless years there my appreciation was deepened for a plant I have always enjoyed.

My Grampa Mac grew them in his Vermont garden, cutting the heavy ripe seed-heads at the same time he harvested pumpkins and Hubbard squash.

I was given seed this spring for two classic tall varieties of sunflowers.

These were planted at the back of Mr. Rogers' stone-buttressed raised bed.

Last year this south-facing space was a tangle of self-seeded morning glory and Sweet Annie [artemesia annua.] Both these plants belong in the polite category of "invasive."

Son-in-law Matt tackled the raised bed with the tiller, I crawled back and forth clawing out fleshy white roots of what we here call Johnson grass.

The raised bed is too wide to reach across and work, so another arduous hands and knees weeding was accomplished when the tall sunflowers and the more dwarf gaudy varieties at the front edge were only inches high.

The surviving morning glories have clambered triumphantly up the sunflower stalks, ignoring the dangling remnants of string Mr. Rogers must have placed along the garage wall to encourage them. Rain drops pelt the Sweet Annie releasing the distinctive spicy/sweet fragrance.

The sunflowers are on their own at this point, a towering forest of stalks where only a cat could walk.

I dragged out a milk crate as a precarious perch for taking photos. When the sunflowers gain a few more inches they will be beyond my reach.

I enjoy the cross-hatched pattern of the centers as they open as much as the dramatic dazzle of the full blown blooms. Sharon Whitehurst

This story was posted on 2011-07-12 09:49:35
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Whitehurst Diaries: Sunflower time in Gradyville, KY

2011-07-12 - Old Gradyville RD, Gradyville, KY - Photo by Sharon Whitehurst.
Sunflowers have been source of joy for Sharon Whitehurst all her life. Grampa Mac in Vermont grew them, and they were a welcome scene in the Wyoming desert land where she lived before settling in Gradyville. The flowers above have burst into bloom in the last couple of days with the Heat Wave.

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