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Sunflowers: Origin and Impact

My interest in sunflowers began with a casual look at Van Gogh's work. The Dutch Master is a favourite as are sunflowers

Sunflower and Friend

Sunflower & Friend

Sunflower & Friend

Sunflowers Inspiration

Sunflowers inspire me. What began with an appreciation of the work of Vincent Van Gogh, has blossomed into a deep awareness of this iconic plant. The sunflower's beauty is a lure. Pollinators are attracted by the bright yellow flower. This relationship is how it all works

For a brief overview of the Sunflower, visit this hub,

Back to Van Gogh, his Irises were the first flower paintings to capture my focus. I use the word focus because I like taking photos of sunflowers on both my smartphone and my DSLR.

This Iris journey took me through a trip to the National rt Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

Sunflower History

Sunflowers: How to Grow


  • Sunflower Possibilities
    From children’s forts to cleaning up radioactive waste, sunflowers are a very versatile and beautiful plant.

Mammoth Sunflower

The Mammoth Sunflowers that are growing in My Small Graden came from both volunteer plants and the seeds that I saved last year. Those seeds were purchased from a heritage seed company, Heritage Harvest Seeds.

As a seed saver, collector and sharer, I am interested in a plant's tale, its history. The Sunflower originated in Mexico and/or Central America about 3,000 BC. It was the middle ages before this beauty reached Europe. According to the National Sunflower Association, the Sunflower was commercialized in Russia, in the 1500s, before spreading throughout Europe and back to its original home.

Over the years, I have planted a few hybrid varieties because that was the look people wanted for their gardens but when planting my own, the seeds that I saved are best. If I have no seed, then finding a source as close to my garden as possible, is what I will do.

How to Grow Sunflowers


Why do I enjoy Sunflowers? Besides their versatility which ranges from providing food for many beings to being proud and beautiful, Sunflowers radiate hope.

Over the years, I have designed gardens of all sizes, from containers on a deck to a small acreage, (4 acres) to community gardens. Many of these had Sunflowers incorporated into the overall design.

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I have always planted Mammoth or, erroneously named, Russian sunflowers. I prefer to work with seeds that I have saved but will buy or swap them when necessary.

Great sources for obtaining seeds and meeting like-minded people are Seedy Sundays or Seedy Saturdays. A seed library located at the public library or elsewhere facilitates seed swaps, Check with the local library or community garden to find out if they are aware of or are interested in setting up either, a Seed Library or a Seedy Saturday or Sunday. This is a great method to help build community.

Please drop me a comment and let me know if you have done either, set up a Library or Seed Event. Sharing helps us all.

Nature Working

Nature Working

Sunflowers and Beyond.

For the past three years, I have grown sunflowers as part of my three sisters' garden. Corn, beans, and squash are the traditional three, however, the history of the sunflowers makes it a perfect fit.

The sunflower has other properties we need to know. For example, Sunflowers are hyperaccumulators which means they are plants that have the ability to take up high concentrations of toxic materials in their tissues. This is why the sunflower is able to play a crucial role in cleaning up toxic waste sites.

We have explored the versatility of the Sunflower and found that it, indeed, is a plant that does so much more than dress up the garden.

One of the uses for the head of the Sunflower was introduced to me by a neighbour. She removes the sunflower head when the seeds are ripe. Of course, the birds may have beaten her to the goodies, the seeds.

Over the winter months, she and her partner enjoy watching the birds appreciate the meal.

We watch the blue jays fly back and forth from my Small Garden which, this year, is predominately Sunflowers. Their squawks flow through our kitchen window. Our other neighbours have mentioned how much they enjoy the Jays and the Sunflowers.

Sunflower Uses

Where The Sunflowers Grow

Where The Sunflowers Grow

© 2021 Bob Ewing

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