Here comes the sun (and I say, it’s all right)

What is it that is so inherently cheerful about a sunflower? This one bears no resemblance to either of the varieties I ordered from Sarah Raven last spring. It should be killing me with its sinister ring of dark bronze juxtaposed with bright yellow. It has an uncanny likeness to Sauron’s glaring eye. And yet I smile whenever I see it.


Checking back in my records, the variety was supposed to be either the deep red ‘Claret’ or the soft brown and crimson ‘Double Dandy’. I planted a row of each; the slugs ate the back row but somehow spared the front row, which grew into these. Grumble grumble: at Sarah Raven’s prices, one expects the correct wares. But I say, it’s all right. Any flower this sunny can’t put me out of sorts for too long.

I’m thinking of writing a review of all the annuals I’ve grown over the past two or three years: which are reliably successful, which are less so, and which I can’t live without. I think sunflowers may just turn out to be something I grow every year. Borage is an annual that I never need to sow afresh these days: it simply pops up everywhere and anywhere. It’s a wonderful thing to find an annual you like that likes you back with equal enthusiasm. I’d love to know what annuals you sow faithfully each year, which are more miss than hit, which you’ve given up on, and which are reliable self-seeders.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I recommend visiting her page to see what she and other garden bloggers around the globe have found in the garden to put in a vase today.



14 thoughts on “Here comes the sun (and I say, it’s all right)

  1. that’s a lovely sunflower and I agree it’s most annoying you didn’t receive what you ordererd. I’ve tried sunflowers a few times in my north facing, rubbly Manchester garden, but no joy so far. I’m going to try again next year. I’ve got petunias in my vase as i’m full of a cold. Love Bec

    1. The rubble probably wouldn’t put them off as I’ve seen self-seeded sunflowers growing out between rocks. The north-facing garden though? That’s going to be more of a challenge! If you have a south-facing window ledge, try a window box. My neighbour has shortish ones in a window box and they look brilliant.

  2. That is a beautiful sunflower but I have to agree that it is frustrating to order a specific flower and end up with something else. I got the wrong Dahlia but loved the mistaken flower much more than the correct one the nursery sent me in apology the next year. I don’t do many annuals or seeds but the one that I’ve ended up with is Perilla, an herb with purple leaves. Very identifiable when it’s tiny, so it’s easy to pull out where you don’t want it.

    1. I had to look perilla up – it’s very pretty isn’t it. How lucky about that dahlia – the same thing happened to me but the mistake was definitely NOT more attractive. Annoyingly it’s also extremely vigorous and I can never get round to digging it out.

  3. I love cosmos and while they do self-sow, it seems they always get mildew or mold and even with staking, will find a way to flop. I like self-sowing annuals that I only have to thin as they plant themselves… calendula, cleome, nigella, nicotiana and ‘Grandpa Ott’ morning glory. Good friends!

    1. What a wonderful list of self-sowers – you are lucky! Of those, the only ones that self-sow for me are the calendulas. Cosmos do require staking, unless you can get your hands on some of the shorter, bushier varieties, or pot varieties. But I like the way the tall ones (like ‘Purity’) collapse and twine through the other plants. I have to sow it each year though, and usually the snails get it.

  4. I have had a ramdom mystery sunflower here in the nursery, self seeded and like no sunflower I’ve grown here. It’s been huge and fabulous. I love sunflowers and luckily they are coping with our clay soil here, so many other annuals to choose from too, I just don’t have time to grow them all! Borage is a must though for that vivid blue and for the bees.

    1. Yes, borage is a must, I agree – not that I have much choice about it personally since it pops up everywhere. The blue is amazing, isn’t it. I suppose worse things happen at sea than mystery plants in wrong seed packets, especially when they are interesting in themselves.

  5. Not funny is it. I have Anise Hyssop flowers over three beds. What’s wrong with that? – They were meant to be Bergamot! A replacement packet of seeds from Jeeka’s was small compensation. I will have to wait for next year to see if they got it right this time. The only plus is that the bees are keen on the hyssop.

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