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This garden club held what is called a ‘small’ flower show rather the the standard flower show. Many clubs take advantage of this type of show because it doesn’t demand the same number of entries. For example a small show needs only three design classes rather than five, or a total of 12 designs rather than 20. It is very intimidating to make a design that everyone will see and has been judged. The show “Quilting Bee” was held at a local church during the Ludington Sidewalk Sales Days. The room was full of quilts made by a local quilting group. They were awesome! I hope people walked one block over to see this excellent one-day show.

Succulent garden

While not winning a blue ribbon, I loved the succulent garden in this piece of wood.

Blue ribbon winner in design class "Log Cabin Quilt"

Blue ribbon winner in design class “Log Cabin Quilt”

Blue ribbon winner in design class "Mariner's Compass Quilt."

Blue ribbon winner in design class “Mariner’s Compass Quilt.”

Blue ribbon and Award of Design Excellence in the design class "Flower Basket Quilt."

Blue ribbon and Award of Design Excellence in the design class “Blazing Star Quilt.”

There was a fourth design class but my photo was bad. Here, however, is another entry in the design class “Flower Basket Quilt.” It is a beautiful mass (type of design) design of summer flowers. Beautiful!

The ribbon you earn doesn't necessarily reflect on the beauty of the design.

The ribbon you earn doesn’t necessarily reflect on the beauty of the design.

Horticulture is a show has to match what is in bloom at the time of the show. This consideration often affects the time a show is scheduled, but when clubs want to attract audiences, they often have to co-ordinate with local events in their area.

A blue ribbon winner in the Annual Flower Section.

A blue ribbon winner in the Annual Flower Section.

Blue ribbon and Award of Merit , which is the best blue ribbon winner in the Annual Flowers.

Blue ribbon and Award of Merit , which is the best blue ribbon winner in the Annual Flowers.

This was the Award of Merit winner in the Bulbs, Corms, Tubers and Rhizomes section, and also earned the best specimen in the show with the Award of Horticultural Excellence.

This was the Award of Merit winner in the Bulbs, Corms, Tubers and Rhizomes section, and also earned the best specimen in the show with the Award of Horticultural Excellence.

This was a wonderful small show. I was pleased to have been asked to judge it. It will also be the last flower show I judge as I asked to become an Emeritus Judge (a judge who no longer judges.) I will still participate in flower shows, in fact my garden club will be giving a show next June 4th. You’re welcome to come to Cadillac and see it.

It has been a cold and wet late summer September so far. In a few days fall starts and the trees are just tinged here and there with color. My sunflowers had not bloomed and I thought they might not — that the puckered blossoms would just stay curled up in tight balls. I didn’t plant them until the beginning of June because of the weather vagaries of this past spring. Some grew to an amazing height. Finally the tallest one opened, a bit bedraggled by rain. I had to stand under it and aim the camera into the sky to get a photo. Then, all of sudden they were all open. By sheer size sunflowers have to be one of the most spectacular flowers.

Russian Mammoth Sunflower 10' tall

Russian Mammoth Sunflower 10′ tall

Chianti Sunflower

Chianti Sunflower

Chianti usually have multiple blooms.

Chianti usually have multiple blooms.

This year I planted ‘Van Gogh’s Mix’ but only one variety of the mix came up. They finally bloomed this past week. I expected short, but they’re seven feet at least, but shorter and have a more pure yellow petal than the golden yellow of the Russian Mammoth I grew last year. They still provide exceptionally lovely flowers for the end of the season.

Everything in the vegetable garden had a hard time this summer. I’ll have to do some reading to discover why. The tomatoes are finally coming in. This seems to be the norm this year as I’ve talked to other gardeners. Perhaps the nights were too cool and the days too warm. Don’t know.

Nice sunflowers although I expected a wider variety.

Nice sunflowers although I expected a wider variety.

Sunflower

At last, my sunflowers have bloomed! If you live south of my location, yours have probably come and gone and are already producing seed.

These huge, geometrically structured annual flowers vibrate with color, and never fail to grab attention. Over the last few decades they have have become iconic in nature, decorating many household and clothing items. According to Allan M. Armitage in his Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials (Timber Press, 2001), this is due to a few factors. Armitage states the first acclaim for the sunflower emerged upon the ‘centenary of van Gogh’s death in 1990′ and the subsequent promotion of his art.’ Van Gogh is famous, of course, for his paintings of sunflowers. Another event Armitage mentions is the introduction of a pollenless hybrid from Japan at about the same time. I don’t know about that. I have always loved sunflowers and gladly put up with the pollen falling from the flowers onto my tables, but I suppose florist found this a welcome trait which probably led to the flower’s greater use in professional arrangements and a wider exposure to the public.

Named after the Greek sun god Helios because the flower heads seem to always face the sun, it is myth that the flowers actually follow the sun across the sky. Some claim they only face east, but mine face south. It may surprise flower lovers to know the genus also includes many perennials. (Jerusalem artichokes, anyone? Very tasty!) However, it is the huge flowers of the annual species, Helianthus annus, that arouses human adoration, and this species originated in North and Central America where the Aztecs first venerated them. The Spanish took seeds back to Europe where growers developed flowers with spectacular results.

The plants grow from three to twelve feet tall, depending on species and cultivar, and the flowers may be a few inches in diameter to as much as a foot or more across. Newer cultivars may be shorter in stature, but the flowers come in amazing colors ranging from lemon yellow through gold and mahogany colored rays. They are well worth the effort to grow. Needless to say they make a statement in the garden or a flower arrangement, and a field grown for seed production is a stunning sight.

Online you will find herbal remedies and all types of lore, legend, and myth about sunflowers. Some witch and pagan oriented sites speak of the flower’s ‘energy.’ How could a genus that provides such beauty, food and oil with such little care not engender legendary acclaim?

Sunflowers do best if planted directly in soil at or just before the last frost date in a site chosen for its sunny location. Once established the plants do well for themselves, but fertilizing every two weeks or so helps them grow to their full potential. It is amazing to watch them grow to the heights they can achieve, but beware! Deer love sunflowers, too. The stalks are often thick and fibrous, especially with the very tall growing types. It takes strength to hold those large flower heads so high! The leaves correspond in scale and size to the flowers. Do to their size they look coarse and ungainly, and can sometimes irritate a susceptible person’s skin. Another warning: bees often hover in the flower’s central disk. Despite these few drawbacks, if sunflowers don’t make your heart glow with warmth, you might not be human.

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