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Sunflowers at the Allotment

A lot growing at the allotment

Refuge and therapy.  Social and plant history.  Vegetables and fruit. Vegetables and flowers. Flowers and flowers- although sometimes not in the allotment rules. Happily in my allotment there are flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs all jostling for position.  

Magic Roundabout Sunflowers

Mists of time

The beginning of the allotment goes back in the mists of time to the 16th century, but they were in demand in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution and the move to the cities caused a need for land for growing food. During the 20th century allotments were made available to all, the amount of land available coming on in leaps and bounds. Now, depending on your area, there may be a waiting list of a decade years in some areas.

Velvet Queen

Sunflower style

What to grow at your allotment now you have the key to the gate? Time to choose all your personal favourites.  Butternut? Pumpkins? cornflowers? sunflowers?.  One allotment vision that springs to mind immediately is sunflowers arm in arm with sweetcorn with pumpkin vines twining about their feet.  But not only ten foot tall and deep yellow sunflowers following the summer sun on it’s arc across the sky, the smaller and many flowered velvety red, fluffy yellows, bi coloured red and yellow with names such as Magic Roundabout and Velvet Queen.

Loved by slugs

The vision of the rows of sunflowers at the allotment can sometimes be clouded by the reality.  While young seedlings are loved by all slugs, it is young sunflower shoots that they seem to love the best.   Protect the shoots the most at this time, using your most effective slug defence, otherwise the slugs will leave nothing at all behind to grow tall at the allotment.

Sunflowers also herald autumn as much as summer, with the changing light and the fading summer flowers, they are the start of the end of the allotment summer heyday.  After the sunflowers there are still the pumpkins to harvest and seeds to collect and hope that next year will have just as much sun and as many sunflowers.

A vase of sunflowers is always a real delight.  Immortalised by Van Gogh in their golden summer splendour in a stylish earthenware pottery vase, sunflowers go with lots of different vintage vases, especially that old friend of flowers, the blue and white vase.

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