Sunflowers have always held me spellbound. They grow in patches that seem to stretch on forever. When I’m out driving and spot a voluptuous sea of bright blooms billowing in the distance I scour the roadside for a safe spot to pull over. Then I get out and gaze to my hearts content.
I don’t know how the fascination started. I only know that they beckon me with some irresistible force I find hard to explain. A few years ago driving back from Oxford with Mike Driscoll (Old Dog Photography) I spotted a field of the beauties, and cried “STOP!”
Spur of the moment “tog” that he is, he didn’t think twice. We each enjoyed in our own way, he snapping away and I wandering in blissful communion for I don’t know how long. (Another sweet sunflower attribute: their striking splendor seems to make time stand still. )
While there are no scientific studies I’m aware of proving that sunflowers possess aphrodisiac properties, I spontaneously gathered a bit of anecdotal evidence after experiencing a fairytale moment – an impromptu kiss amidst the blazing golden patch.
Last year, Emily’s Produce (https://www.emilysproduce.com/)a now iconic garden/farm spot located between Cambridge and Church Creek currently celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, featured a sunflower maze and we made sure to visit. Returning this summer I discovered another reason to love sunflowers: Emily’s was donating the one dollar maze admission fee to benefit Patriot’s Point, a nearby outdoor recreational facility for “our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families. (https://patriotpoint.org).
I was satisfied that our sunflower season observance was behind us. But in late September I stumbled upon a friend’s Facebook page adorned with pictures of sunflowers tinged with autumnal touches of orange and crimson. She’d gathered them at Taylor’s Produce Farm on Dover Bridge Road in Preston, and they were free for the picking!
Matthew Taylor belongs to the 5th generation of a family that has been farming on Maryland’s Eastern Shore since his grandparents, Noble and Flora, began back in 1928. Starting in 1990, Taylor and wife Debby and family have operated 6 area produce stands in Caroline and Talbot Counties, and Sussex County, Delaware. (http://www.taylorsproduce.com/)
Five years ago Taylor decided trying to grow sunflowers on site at his Preston farm location on Dover Bridge Road. A dedicated but time limited dove hunter Taylor spread a few “rounds” of sunflower seeds, hoping to bring his winged quest within reach of his home turf. (This year, for the first time, Taylor used Sportsman’s mix Autumn Beauty seeds featuring orange and crimson shades instead of the usual yellow.)
As a bonus, the floral bounty became a hit with Taylor’s Produce customers. “The response was so great we planted them again the next year,” Taylor explained. It’s a safe bet that they’ll likely continue to do so each year in late July and August, in the spot where the sweet corn grows, once it’s growing season is done.
The idea to let people pick the flowers for free sprouted after seeing so many folks stopping to take pictures in the patch. It didn’t seem right to charge money, Taylor added. “It’s a nice way to say thank you to the community and our customers.”
Taylor, who remembers his grandfather growing gladiolas, snapdragons, and zinnias, now also offers a free zinnia patch in the summer months. “A lady from down the road comes by and picks bouquets she takes to nursing homes, which is pretty great.” Taylor said.
Right after spotting the news about Taylor Produce sunflowers I made plans to visit. On a gorgeous Saturday following my October 9 birthday, Mike and visually feasted on our second helping of sunflower magic, and wanted to share the beauty. Enjoy!