Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sow the Seeds of Summer; We've Enjoyed the Huge Smiling Faces of Sunflowers All Summer and Even Though the Season's Changed, Their Story Is Far from Finished

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sow the Seeds of Summer; We've Enjoyed the Huge Smiling Faces of Sunflowers All Summer and Even Though the Season's Changed, Their Story Is Far from Finished

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

FROM children and artists to birds and bees... who can resist the everpopular sunflower? In the post the other day came an envelope with several packets of seed, including some new sunflowers. There was a time when sunflowers were a standard yellow and the story stopped there. But now they come in every imaginable shade of yellow - from the palest cream to a vibrant chrome.

Plus, there's an enormous range of other colours - crimson, mahogany and 'art-shades' mixtures that have striped and bicolour blooms.

Sunflowers also used to be big.

That was the whole point - they were as tall as could be.

Schoolchildren everywhere would take part in competitions to see who could grow the biggest, tallest sunflowers around. They still do.

And it is surely one of the best ways to get children excited about the idea of growing plants from seed. Although I am not much into competition when it comes to gardening, it seems that what children most enjoy is nurturing their own plants.

And there is a lot more that sunflowers can teach us.

If you grew them this year, have you saved their seed? Having grown a plant from seed, what could be more exciting for small children - and adults come to that - than to save the seed from them and grow new plants from them next year? I learned recently from a professor of botany - who I met standing in a swamp in Korea dissecting water lilies - that it is primitive flowers whose stamens and petals are arranged in a spiral.

We were looking at water lilies for our new programme - Plant Odysseys. They are among the very oldest flowers on earth and were at the very beginning of the evolution of flowers.

In a sunflower, any child can see or even feel the formation of that spiral. And looking at the centre of a sunflower could inspire all sorts of mathematical and artistic endeavours.

One of the most famous paintings in the world has sunflowers as its subject. In fact sunflowers were among Vincent Van Gogh's favourite subjects.

He found them to be a symbol of hope and happiness. And in Dutch literature, they symbolised loyalty and devotion. …

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