clouds of optimism on the last day of August
On the last day of August I’m appreciating the sunflowers I planted back in April. They are performing just as I’d hoped only more so – more wild beauty, more unflagging cheerfulness, more food for small birds, more screening from the street so I can sit on the porch and feel enclosed in a cloud of optimism. My first herbal teacher, Rosemary Gladstar, used to say that the way to receive the most healing and information from a plant was to sit with the living being out where it grows. The thing I like about these sunflowers in particular – okay, two things – they derive from a native California strain and embody a kind of exuberant independence that those big-headed domestic sunflowers lack. And their multi-branching habit means they keep flowering on and on. The goldfinches arrived for the first ripe seeds three weeks ago and come every morning to check for more. New flowers will keep blooming up until frost. And enough seeds will escape the birds and field mice to bring another flush of eight-foot-tall plants next year. They make me happy.
I’m also cheered by the patch of black-seeded sorghum that planted itself in the wasteland of gravel where I cleaned seed. In good soil these plants would have half-pound seedheads. Here the stalks are slender but many, averaging 30-40 per plant. I hadn’t realized how tough sorghum can be, or how attractive when stressed.
(Laughing Frog’s For the Birds mix offers enough seed to get a big naturalized patch going of both these bird-favorites plus Limelight Millet.)
I’m cleaning and packaging seeds like a Virgo fanatic – so much fun – in anticipation of the Heirloom Expo, September 9-10-11 in Santa Rosa. Last year my mother died two days before the expo, so I passed it by. I’m looking forward to being back this year and to talking with many of you. Please find me at the outdoor farmers market, probably the row near the east entrance to the fairgrounds.