Tag Archives: sunflower

Winter seeds for the birds

Sunflower seed head still has some left for the birds.

Sunflower seed head still has some left for the birds.

Last fall, I cut down all the volunteer sunflowers that had grown in my community garden plot, and brought them home. I propped them at the top of the backyard, hoping the birds would appreciate them. This morning, I finally saw that they do! A few chickadees were picking on the sunflower heads. It’s nice to see a natural food source work out.

By the way, you may have noticed that I’ve been tweaking a few things around the edges on this blog. I’ve returned to the original name, “Writing Every Day”.  Since I’ve taken up the challenge to write a story a week, I will blog about my writing. This will continue to be the place where I write about whatever else interests me, such as reading, cooking, and gardening. With one big exception: bees!

I’ve launched a new blog about bees, “Native Bee Ranching.” This is where I discuss why bees are important, how they live, and what you can do for them. So if you’ve enjoyed my previous writings about bees, especially the native bees, I hope you’ll check it out.

In which I inflict a grainy photo of a goldfinch on you

A Goldfinch amid the sunflowers

The sunflower patch is getting so ratty looking, I’m considering cutting them all down. But just when I begin to contemplate such drastic action, I come round the corner of the house and get rewarded by the up and down swoops of a goldfinch flying away. I can’t cut the sunflowers down yet! There are sunflower seeds for goldfinches to eat.

She even came back to eat some more. See? I know it’s a “she” because female goldfinches have the same patterns on their wings as males, but where the boys are golden, the girls are dusky brown.  Actually, by now, the male goldfinches aren’t golden, but more of a greenish lemon color. And they both like sunflowers.

Sunflower weather

Now that the heat has hit, I can barely keep up with the flowers. This sunflower bloomed a few days ago, and today already the flowerhead is busy making seeds. The bees have done their work.

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Traditional varieties of sunflowers are great bee flowers. They give so generously of their pollen, that bees get covered with it, going round and round collecting all that delicious (to bees) gold. The little pollen-covered bee is Halictus ligatus, which I like to call “saddlebag bee”. They have a rare talent for finding the flowers with the most pollen and filling up the pollen baskets on theirs legs so much they stick out like little saddlebags. The green bee is my garden stalwart, Agapostemon. They show up like flying emeralds all summer long.

As for what kind of sunflower this is, I think it’s descended from the black oil sunflower seeds that I feed the birds. Seeds get into the compost, I spread the compost, and in the sunny spots, sunflowers volunteer, year after year. My kind of flower.

Wild harvest

Half-eaten sunflower

Poor old Sonny the Sunflower! Somebody knocked him over and chawed his face off.

Maybe the raccoons are peeved that the bird feeder is empty at night.

Sunflower buffet

Want to eat from the sunflower? Take a number!

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Pretty, pretty sunflowers

The sunflowers are so pretty right now. Some of them are dressing up in russety orange. Honeybees come and meticulously work their way around the rings, getting every bit of pollen and nectar from the flowers. And when the sunflowers go to seed, forget how ratty they look. Goldfinches will arrive and it’s pretty all over again.

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Bee approved, mystery plant

There is no more doubt about the mystery plants. It’s a sunflower. Several sunflowers, that is. Everything about them says “Sunflower”:  the broad leaves, the flat yellow disks, the mathematical spiral in the centers, the honeybee, the green Agapostemon bee, and more bees to come.

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Mystery Plants

Got a couple of mystery plants. One is new, one is old. I have a guess for both, but I’m never sure.

Mystery plant

The new one is a several ones all sprouting near where a small sunflower grew last year. Is it another sunflower? Or a Black-Eyed Susan? It might even  be a coneflower. Or something else, eager to prove me wrong. I will wait for it to flower before I call it.

Mystery shrub

The old one is a shrub flowering very prettily as it does every spring. It’s clearly one of those robust varieties that have been around for years. It grows in a corner that it really hard to get at, so looking at it from a distance and wondering if it’s a mock orange is the closest I can get.

Who knows?

Living on thin moss

Sunflower on the rocks

Sunflower on the rocks

Some sort of sunflower appears to have found just enough of a foothold in the moss on a stone wall. I’ve been wrong before about “sunflowers“, but it’s too high up for me to see anything but a yellow composite flower.  It might as well be a sunflower. It even seems to like the heat!

Sunflowers keep on giving

Sunflower

Sunflower

I come to praise my sunflowers, not to pull them up and compost them. When they were blooming, the sunflowers offered pollen to the bees. When they were dying, seeds to the goldfinches. The plants have finished dying and dried up, but they’re not done.

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