PHOTO: Rachael Dupree
Rachael Dupree
August 17, 2018

No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve loved to plant sunflowers. Their big, cheery blooms are the epitome of summer charm, and they’ve always been a favorite. I remember begging my parents to plant them along our fence line growing up, and they happily obliged. Then I grew them in my small garden in the city, and when we moved to our farm, I’ve continued to plant them here.

While I usually intend to grow sunflowers for seeds or for indoor bouquets—they brighten up a room like no other flower can—I’ve never been able to bring myself to cut one because the wildlife’s love affair with them. And to be quite honest, watching how the wildlife appreciates them makes me love them all the more.

When I began planting sunflowers in town, I noticed that goldfinches were attracted to our yard.  A goldfinch’s diet consists mostly of seeds, so anyone wanting to attract these pretty yellow birds would be hard-pressed not to include sunflowers in their garden. And those goldfinches, being the avian equivalent to sunflowers in my eyes, made continuing to plant the flowers a requirement for years to come.

I usually plant the sunflowers outside the house, so I can watch the birds flit and flitter outside of my window. This year, however, I planted them in our vegetable garden, located at the base of our driveway, down the hill from our beehive. This is bit of a walk from our house, so I haven’t been able to watch goldfinches from the living room, but we do get to have the big ol’ blooms greet us as we return home each day.

One morning, I was taking a barefoot walk through the garden before the dew had dried, and I heard a buzzing sound coming from the vicinity of the sunflowers. As I neared the stalks, I saw blooms, each at least 8 inches in diameter, covered in bees. While it was mostly honeybees pollinating the flowers, a closer look revealed at least three different types bees enjoying a feast, all at the same time: honeybees, bumblebees and another smaller bee I can’t yet identify. It was a beautiful sight.

As I continue moving through our second year here on the farm, I’ve given quite a lot of thought to where I want to put my energy regarding the land. I’ve pondered the things in the garden and around the property that I enjoy doing, as well as the things I don’t. I’ve considered the things I do well and the things I don’t. As I think about next year’s garden plan as well as ideas I have for other farm projects—such as bringing some animals to the farm—I try to keep these things in mind. There’s so much to do and so much we want to do, prioritizing according to our passions and gifts is key. But one thing is for sure, sunflowers will always be part of the equation.


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