Few things say “welcome summer” like the sunflower. Its bright petals and huge “face” are easily recognizable. I love everything about sunflowers from admiring their beauty to chomping on their seeds. It seems that every part of this magnificent plant is usable. Even the stalk can be dried and used for kindling during the winter months. While Kansas is “The Sunflower State,” here in Bayou Country, we have an impressive trail of sunflowers.
The North Caddo Sunflower Trail is located in and around the small town of Dixie, Louisiana. It began back in 1996 when John Sloan and a friend decided to plant sunflowers for their fall hunting expeditions. Mr. Sloan said that one day it was just the quiet of his fields and the next day he saw painters, photographers, and sightseers stopping to admire his field of happy flowers. Neil Johnson captured the magic of this field in his book, “A Field of Sunflowers.” The massive twenty-acre field is located on the Cairo Plantation, although there are rows of sunflowers along a thirty-mile stretch leading to Gilliam, Louisiana. The friendly people of Gilliam hold a one-day Sunflower Festival to honor this brilliant bloom. This was the festival’s fourteenth year and it is gaining in popularity drawing visitors from near and far.
Our long hot summers are prime for growing sunflowers, since they thrive in full sun,
sandy soil, and are both heat and drought resistant. The trail follows along the Red River and the river soil is excellent for growing not only sunflowers, but also cotton, corn, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. Sunflowers are annuals and planted after the danger of a spring frost has past when the soil temperature is around 55 to 60 degrees. The large seeds are planted no more than 1” deep and 4” to 6” apart in well-dug, loose soil. Planting the seeds over a 5 to 6 week period will enable you to enjoy continuous blooms throughout the summer.
We loaded up the boys and drove the short trip to Cairo Plantation this past weekend. It is our first time to see the trail firsthand. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty, brilliant colors, and enormity of the sunflowers. We saw quite a few birds enjoying them, but luckily, no deer or other wild animals that love to munch on the flowers. The boys had a sniff fest as they kicked up the river dirt while we walked along the trail cut through the field. We didn’t attend the festival due to the extreme heat of the first weekend of summer. You’ll notice both of the boys’ tongues are hanging out of their mouths. When we reached the car, I used my Kurgo Zippy Bowl and filled it once for each of them. They both emptied the bowl when it was their turn. I sit in the backseat with them, because road trips are still new to them. Bentley stuck his head between the front seats and hogged the air conditioning. We did make a couple of more stops for really cool photo shoots and I’ll be sharing those with you in the coming days.
You really don’t want to miss my BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday post for more amazing
Here are some Fun Facts about the Sunflower!
1. The sunflower is actually made of many tiny flowers called florets. The center florets look like a normal flower and the outer florets look like yellow petals. Together they make up a “false flower” and help insects and birds see the sunflower. After pollination, every little floret produces a seed.
2. A sunflower can grow up to 10 ft. tall and the flower head can be an astonishing 11.8 inches wide.
3. In 2012, a sunflower in Germany grew to a height of 27 ft. and made the Guinness Book of World Records.
4. The famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings titled “Sunflowers.”
5. There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil used in cooking, margarines are made from black seeds, and the yummy snack food is made from the striped seeds. The seeds are popular in birdseed mixtures.
6. The sunflower is native to the America's and used extensively by Native American Indians for food, as oil, in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.
7. It is a common misconception that sunflowers track the sun across the sky during the day. While the young flowers do show this movement, a mature flower usually points in a fixed eastern direction.
Resources: http://www.almanac.com/plant/sunflowers / http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20140609/LIVING/306090026/John-Sloan-s-sunflower-trail-now-open / http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/plants/sunflowers.html
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We are joining the fun Mischief Monday’s blog hop hosted by My Brown Newfies, Alfie’s Blog, and Snoopy’s Dog Blog. Have fun laughing along with these other mischievous blogs!