Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Fallen "Volunteer"

Top-heavy with seed heads, this big sunflower tipped over in last week's heavy rains. Its shallow root system could not counterbalance the weight of its flourishing leaves, flowers and developing seeds. This plant was one of those volunteers that just show up, often in wrong places.

The tall sunflower and a shorter one decided to flank my topiary basket and were actually overshadowing it. Now I'm inclined to move the smaller one and let the basket star on its own.
I saved two big seed heads for the goldfinches that have enlivened the yard with their bouncing flight habit and cheerful calls. About a dozen sunflowers have grown up along a back fence and are now going to seed, so the goldfinches will still have plenty to dine on. All those sunflowers are tied to the fence and are less likely to topple over than the freestanding ones by the walkways.
Seed heads can be removed and stuck on top of a fence or be made into wreaths for the birds, thus relieving the weight on each plant. The goldfinches are very clever about finding them and eating the seeds. They will hang on upside-down if necessary to get every last one.
--Bernice Paglia


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