Although I grew up in a farming area of Missouri I did not pay much attention to sunflowers. It was not until years later when I went off to take a cooking glass in the central part of France that I fell in love with the fields and fields of Turn Sol ( meaning turn to the sun- the french name for sunflowers) that their big graphic faces began to fascinate me. Perhaps seeing the huge volume of brilliant yellow in fields after field is what finally caught my eye. I could envision the slightly mad Vincent Van Gogh gazing out at those same fields and expressing his fascination in his iconic painting of them. Whatever, since that time they have been a part of my gardening and flower decorating lexicon. I used to grow lots of different varieties but as I started to spend late summers in Aspen it seemed a waste to grow something that I never saw bloom. Until this year, when I decided that once again I would plant them because along with old fashioned hollyhocks they just belonged in my garden even on a limited bases. I have recently changed my travel pattern a bit to see my summer garden as well and when I was there last week they were just starting to bloom. The focus of my gardens at Weatherstone these past years have been spring and early summer blooms when I am there. But these last two years I have once again started planting my beloved dahlias, sunflowers,rudbeckias, cosmos and zinnias which I encourage my mother to take to the local retirement center in CT. Then I feel that these livery summer stars are not going to waste.
I think I have written about the fact that I do not have a garden in Aspen—-Weatherstone is so labor intensive that I want to be” garden free” in the mountains and I merely let mother nature be the gardener –other then a few wild flowers my friend Simon sprinkles out amongst the aspen forest directly next to the house. So where do I buy my flowers?—– at the local grocery— so pickings are slim unless the summer farmers market occasionally has something.
Above is mother nature’s garden of sunflower type blooms in the mountains of colorado.
My new small crop of sunflowers in the vegetable garden at Weatherstone—the brown ones have not started to bloom as yet but I love how tall they get —-makes me feel like a kid!!
The veggie garden in CT. when I arrived home last week.
I took this photo of the back of a sunflower-isn’t it beautiful the detail on the back as well as the front –nature is the best designer ever!!!!
In Aspen I love using sunflowers for easy and instant decoration—here the grocery story specials for a late August dinner in the mountains
Above and below the big room at Westbury in Colorado.
While I normally use sunflowers alone they mix well with other flowers as well. To create some large volume in the double height ceiling living room at Westbury I mix a sprinkling of sunflowers with the changing Aspen leaves for a September party.
A matching big bouquet on a side table flanked by apples and leaves.
Above and below: for the dining tables, two 60″ rounds, I mixed sunflowers and gerber daisies from the grocery with dahlias which I did get from a farmer in Grand Junction. Then surrounded these bouquets with Meyer lemons and lemon leaves also from the grocery.
Besides the obvious use of the sunflower in decoration the mighty sunflower has been a source of inspiration for painters, textile designers, and jewelers. One of the most beautiful objects designed by the incredible Jean Schlumberger is the magnificent sunflower in a terra cotta pot. I wish I had a side view photo to show the beauty of the movement of this amazing piece but you can view it on line.
Sunflower in a terracotta pot designed by Jean Schlumberger 1960
And finally ” my ” sunflowers as I am trying learn to watercolor by copying from the master botanical painter Alexander Marshall( c. 1620-1682).
c.roehm after A. Marshall
c. roehm after A. Marshall
Artist from all time have learned by copying the masters—now I am getting ready to spread my wings and do an original painting of sunflowers from my garden -wish me luck! —-cr
Off to Charleston next week to do finishing touches to Chisholm House finally the chinoiserie fireplace surround is installed and being painted—- so news on that front to come–see you soon.