Sunflowers more diverse than you thought

Image - Lisa Crouch.

By Beatrice Hawkins

I am on the email list for a seed company in the USA, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and while I have never, and will never, buy anything from them, it is interesting to see what is available over there. The current one has a vast array of Sunflowers on offer.

Now, we live on the sunflower route, and on a farm we had at Narromine over 40 years ago, we grew one of the first broad acre, dry land, crops in that area. Small acreages of irrigated crops were relatively common but my husband was always a progressive, forward thinking and innovative farmer and, when seasonal conditions prevented planting of our usual cereal crop, he decided we would put in a large area of sunflowers. It was very successful and, if we had stayed in the area, would have been repeated.

I loved to drive past them on the way into the house and delighted in seeing them follow the sun. So you can see I have a long history with, and an appreciation of, sunflowers as an oil seed crop, but this American seed company is supplying a huge range for the cut flower trade and this is something very new to me.

The colours and styles are amazing and I hope we have room to show you a range. There are green, purple, brown and multi-coloured ones. Burgundy, chocolate and cream, mauve and lilac, almost white and many different shades of yellow and orange and an almost blue variety. They come in singles and doubles and there is even a fluffy one they call “Teddy Bear”! The centres are not always the brown/black that we are used to seeing in the paddocks as we drive around our area, but can be yellow and even bright green, they can be single stemmed or branching… the variety of colour and form seems to be endless.

These may be available as florist flowers in this country but I have not seen them. If ever I could be tempted to import seeds from overseas it would be to give these a try. However, having been a farmer’s wife for many years, there is no way I could be convinced to import any seeds or plants that I purchased on the internet from overseas.

Remember – “a weed is only a plant out of place” – and I have seen far too many of these and spent too much time and money trying to eradicate things that were brought in and have gone wild. I am sure you could name many from blackberry, St. John’s Wort, bracken fern, Johnson’s grass… the list is endless and the damage and cost to agriculture immense.

Since sharing pictures of these delightful flowers with a friend she has provided photos of some spectacular ones she grew here in Warwick. She got the seeds from an Australian e-bay site so maybe I need to try there.

I will, over the winter months, endeavour to find what is available for purchase here from local seed merchants and have some to try and grow for fun next season, not the huge oil seed varieties, but some for flower arranging.

The next event for the Horticultural Society will be on Wednesday, June 26th, in the CWA rooms in Grafton Street when Brian Sams will again be giving us the benefit of his knowledge, expertise and experience. He is an extremely informative and entertaining speaker. This is a free information night so mark the date in your diary and plan to attend.


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