Gardening with Micki: Sunflowers carefree, easy to grow | Lifestyles

I’m tired of the gray wood picket fence that frames the west side of the back lawn. So, I’ve decided to plant sunflowers to perk up this area of the garden. Why sunflowers? They are easy to grow, and ever so dependable season after season.

I’ve always been partial to sunflowers because golden yellow is one of my favorite colors, especially in the garden. Besides, they are a big fat flower and they will take up a lot of space along the fence. The fence hides an open field and a small lake. The sunflowers will also provide a great color contrast to the numerous mature trees that line the back side of the fence. Those trees also help cushion some of the noise from a nearby turnpike.

Sunflowers also play well with other flowers and other seasonal plants that are now regular attractions in the garden. They are also a rather carefree plant, unlike some others that require tedious nurturing.

I learned to have more appreciation for sunflowers from Linda Vater, an Oklahoma City garden guru, who uses sunflowers to grace an old weathered gate at the entrance to her small but lavish back garden, which she calls a “potager,” in her book, ”The Elegant & Edible Garden.”

Author Jeff Bredenberg, in his book, “How To Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work,” says sunflowers are also a perfect way to introduce children to gardening. He suggests making a sunflower hut as a place for children to play. It looks like a triangle with sunflowers framing the walls of the play area. Letting youngsters help plant sunflowers is another way to spark their interest in gardening.

They are also a perfect gift for ill friends. Nothing brightens a day like a bouquet of sunflowers that say “Get Well Soon.”

Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.

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