by Claudia Sutton
“How wonderful the colour yellow is. It stands for the sun”
[Vincent Van Gogh]
As Summer Fades…….into Autumn, with cooling temperatures and richly coloured leaves, we find ourselves here at the nursery scurrying to finish up the garden and greenhouse chores of snipping and pruning perennials to prepare the gardens for their winter’s sleep (leaving some for the birds to perch on in the cold months), gathering ripened tomatoes, putting aside garlic, and, harvesting herbs, most of which will be kept aside for the herb dryer. The herbs that cannot tolerate cold are brought inside such as Rosemary, Lemon Verbena and Scented Geraniums. The Lemon Verbena is dried for a calming tea and baking and lavender flowers put aside for bath salts and potpourri. Before we know it, the gardening seed and flower catalogues arrive and we sit in the garden enjoying the last hurrah of warm sunshine while we pour over ideas and dreams of next year’s bounty of flowers, vegetables and herbs to sell.
One way we have found to keep summer alive is to plant sunflowers, which are not only cheerful flowers as they follow the sun’s path as it crosses the sky, but being the bird lovers that we are, we are able to collect the seeds not only for our feathered friends, but roast in the oven for a snack on a chilly autumn night. In the Circle of Friends garden, the sunflowers tower over the Helen’s flower and nod at us cheerfully with the autumn breezes. It stands to reason that in the Language of Flowers, sunflowers represent happiness.
When we first started on our journey of running the nursery, there was really only one variety of sunflower, but over the years this has stretched to at least 33 varieties, with varying colours and height. Did you know that the head of a sunflower is made up of 4,000 tiny flowers that become the sunflower’s seeds?
A homemade bird seed recipe that we have used includes one cup of black oil sunflower seeds, 1 cup of chopped plain peanuts, 1⁄2 cup of striped sunflower seeds, 1⁄2 cup of cracked corn and 1⁄8 cup of dried fruit, such as raisins, dried apples or cranberries.
During difficult days, sometimes we just need to stand tall and press our face to the sun like the sunflower does
Here is some advice from the stately sunflower –
Be bright, sunny and positive, Spread seeds of happiness. Rise, shine and hold your head high.