Slow Scrapbook: Seeking Sunflowers

Young sunflower heads stand tall, seeking the sun as it moves across the sky. There’s something poetic about these heliotropic flowers, which turn towards the light. From sun-kissed strawberry to burnt umber, they’re joy in flower form. It’s hard not to be enchanted by their appearance – anyone who has planted their own rarely regrets it.

Growing up against the side of houses, or spanning acres of fields, sunflowers are a summer icon. In colour psychology, yellow invokes creativity, happiness and optimism, and is said to be the colour that most captures our attention. This is probably why so many find such cheer in seeing a sunflower in full bloom.

Living with the seasons means embracing the short windows that we get to enjoy certain flowers, produce and plants. Just as many flowers have had their time in the garden, sun flowers are still standing tall, delivering sunny blooms into September. They’re brilliant, bold cut flowers which look particularly striking against dark interiors, or when used to decorate a late summer tablescape in the garden.

This Slow Scrapbook celebrates one of the most joyful flowers of all.

Sunflowers in a basket bag against stone wall

Sunflowers to Grow and Gather

Teddy Bear sunflowers are characterised by their unique pom pom blooms. They’re a bushy, dwarf variety which grows no higher than two to three feet, but delivers new flowerheads for weeks on end. The flowerheads (pictured below) are a warm golden yellow.

Russian Giant sunflowers grow up to eight to ten feet tall with bigger-than-dinner-plate sized flowerheads. As they get taller, their stems become thicker and heavier. These are best grown against a shed or wall to protect the flowers from wind.

For more colour, try deep red Moulin Rouge sunflowers, or Autumn Beauty.

Sunflowers in a field

Saving Sunflower Seeds

Leaving sunflower heads intact after they’ve flowered provides a welcome snack for birds in early autumn. If you’re planning to replant sunflowers next year, collect them when the backs of the flowerheads are brown and the seeds are plump and a little loose. Collected seeds will need to be dried out and then stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

For more seasonal inspiration, don’t miss our guide to slow gardening.