Another one of the "happy accidents" in our garden are sunflowers planted by the birds. They pop up in many spots, particularly mulched areas around trees, where birds perch to eat the seeds. It's always fun to see them show their heads and start blooming.
I've grown many different hybrid sunflowers, but when they go to seed and come up on their own, they tend to revert to giant plants with big yellow heads that produce a lot of seeds.
Before I came to my senses, I had a huge cutting/vegetable garden about 25 by 50 feet. There I would always grow about 15 or 20 sunflowers of different kinds at the back. (I gave it up because it was too much work: by June it was always the straw that broke my camel's back.)
From this start, thanks to birds dropping the seeds, we now have sunflowers in many spots on our acreage. Usually they grow where the self-sown plants were the year before, but often appear where I don't expect them.
The gorgeous one shown above popped up this summer in one of our shrub borders, which is quite a distance from where sunflowers grew the year before. It's about 9 feet tall (I went out and measured).
When I gave up the big cutting/veggie garden, I regretted losing space for sunflowers, but I need not have worried. As long as we don't weed them out, we will always have a lots of cheerful sunflowers around.
I leave the plants up well into fall until the birds have eaten most of the seeds, and that seems to ensure their spread. When they come up in late spring, I sometimes I move one or two seedlings into gaps in the garden.
If you've never grown sunflowers before, they are quite easy from seed and great for kids' gardens.
I'm a keen gardener and garden writer and photographer, living on a country property of 10 acres near Hamilton, Ont.
I love ornamental grasses and easy-care, contemporary garden styles. In my garden I try to work with nature, instead of fighting it.
To email me, just change "at" to the usual: country.gardening[at]gmail[dot]com