Another Summer Ends

Sunflower

Another summer ends, apparently. The leaves are changing colors (yes, we really do have a fall in California). We have had our first rain. The nights and mornings are cool and moist, wet even.

And the last sunflower has bloomed and faded.

This sunflower was still in all of its glory just a week ago (this picture is from a few days before that).

Now? Petals nearly all gone and the head is losing the pollen bearing fuzz to reveal the seeds underneath.

This particular sunflower is growing in a sunny patch at the front of our house right by the curb. The original seed was planted about 3 years ago by our neighbor’s five year old son, now Roger’s best friend, Paul.

The seeds didn’t sprout until late july and the plant didn’t bloom until September. And just about the same time the flower faded, fall started.

When the seeds matured, Paul and Roger spread seeds in the same little flower bed and — sure enough — a half dozen sunflower plants popped up the following summer.

And again this year.

And hopefully next.

Because this grand plant, so far, has been a better predictor of exactly when the weather is going to change than any weather forecast or almanac.

Bee Working a Sunflower

Sunflowers are prodigious producers of pollen. When cutting earlier blooming sunflowers from the garden, we have often ended up with actual piles of golden pollen under each bloom on our table. We try to pick a table cloth that matches.

With pollen comes bees. Now, if you follow such things, you would know that the honeybee population in North America is at serious risk.

Fortunately, our bees seem to have avoided the mites or fungus that has devastated the populations elsewhere.

Seriously Pollen Laden Bee

Not so much last year, but this year we have had a very healthy population of the fattest, hairiest, bees around.

They get so laden with pollen, it is sometimes amazing to see them fly so nimbly on such stubby little wings.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure this is a traditional honey bee. The proportions are closer to a small bumblebee.

In any case, this guy and his brethren have worked our flowers hard, carrying loads of pollen between all day long.

Hopefully, the cycle will continue next year.



4 Responses to “Another Summer Ends”

  1. John C. Randolph says:

    Those wings really look disproportionately small. Are those bees really healthy?

    -jcr

  2. Barry Wise says:

    In theory bees’ wings can’t support their bodies in flight … but they do! Great pix.

  3. franco says:

    i have a little garden with a few sunflower seeds and they attract bees constantly, is there anyway i can see produce a successful seed without having all these bees around or are the bees essential for the integration of the flower and seed?

  4. Franklin says:

    That is some seriously beautiful photography… I’m not one to comment on blogs often, but I had to after seeing this. Absolutely stunning, what type of camera did you use?

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