Today Ms. Jeannie started planting her summer garden.
It’s been a very mild winter this year in the South, so she could have started much earlier, but every once in a while, a folklorish sounding thing called blackberry winter hits our region, which sort of fools you into thinking that spring has sprung. But then a wicked Mr. Frost comes calling, and knocks out all the early garden preparations. Usually this happens around Eastertime, if it occurs at all, but this year Ms. Jeannie is throwing caution to the wind and planting early. Hopefully it will all work out.
Ms. Jeannie likes to order seeds from her favorite company, Botantical Interests. They have a lot of heirloom varieties, organic mixtures and seeds that always sprout. Plus they have marvelous looking seed packets that contain all sorts of fun growing information. They contain drawings of what the seedlings should look like too, which is helpful if you have a weed prone garden or aren’t quite sure what is what!
This year Ms. Jeannie is keeping things simple by just planting sunflowers and herbs. She will leave her vegetable growing to the local farmers and just shop for them at market each week.
Ms. Jeannie always likes to be a little out of the ordinary, so she has ordered 4 different varieties of red sunflowers, two fuzzy yellow sunflowers and one white sunflower. Ms. Jeannie finds red sunflowers to be most elegant in a bouquet and since many people aren’t familiar with them, she enjoys a bit of the surprise element!
Urn style planters serve as great vases for sunflowers. Their tall yet curvaceous lines balance the bold roundness of the sunflower face. Urns are usually heavier too, which is good, because some mammoth varieties can reach heights up to 9′ feet tall!
The botanical name for sunflower is Helianthus, which comes from the Greek word “helios” which means “sun” and “anthos” which means “flower.” Although native to North America, sunflowers were first discovered by European explorers in South America, but Native American tribes had been growing, cultivating and defining them from the beginning. Native American tribes used the flower petals for dye, the seeds for food, the oil for ceremonial body painting and the stalks for fiber.
Explorers brought seeds back to their native countries, so that by the late 1500’s sunflowers were a common site throughout Europe.
By the 18th century though that Europeans began cooking with sunflower oil. If you have never cooked with sunflower oil, it is supposed to contain the highest levels of Vitamin E, of all the cooking oils. It is light in taste and color. and is low in saturated fat. Learn more here.
Sunflowers can even be used as birdfeeders! Thanks again crafty Martha for supplying us with this pretty feeder idea:
To make your own birdfeeder like this one click here.
Because of their warm, cheerful coloring and their dramatic size and shape, sunflowers have been a subject for artistic study for centuries. Probably, the most recognized paintings of sunflowers would be those of Vincent Van Gogh:
While Ms. Jeannie does love all these paintings, she does wish that Van Gogh had painted more red sunflowers! As a gift recently, she did receive the new Vincent Van Gogh biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith…
…perhaps she will learn more about the inspiration behind all those sunflower portraits! Maybe he’ll even address the red ones! If anyone has already read this book, please let Ms. Jeannie know what you thought of it. She always enjoys a good book review.
On Etsy, there is a glorious amount of sunflower-related items, but red sunflower items are a little more niche. Ms. Jeannie was happy to come across these items:
Ms. Jeannie couldn’t resist these yellow sunflower items either:
Ok, garden. Ms. Jeannie can’t wait to see your pretty faces. So start GROWING!
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you.”
~ Maori Proverb