I’ve planted giant sunflowers for years, trying different varieties and various locations. I love sunflowers for their impressive height and their bright, cheerful blossoms, which remind me of miniature suns. This year I got a late start on planting. When I realized I hadn’t purchased any sunflower seeds, I thought, why don’t I get some from the LCLS Seed Library?
The Seed Library of Laramie County was started in 2017 in partnership with the Laramie County Master Gardeners. The goal of the project is to introduce local residents to gardening and provide education on seed-saving and sustainable organic gardening. This past year the library offered 80 varieties of flower and vegetable seeds and five pre-planned gardens. I “checked out” a packet of the Titan variety of sunflowers.
Sunflowers require abundant sunshine, so I planted the seeds in a flowerbed that gets a lot of sun. I sowed the sunflower seeds in open places between my perennials and ended up with six seedlings, which dwindled to four plants as my lilies, daisies and black-eyed susans battled with them for space.
Sunflowers take 75 to 100 days to bloom and that’s if circumstances are ideal, which they rarely are in Wyoming. This summer our neighborhood experienced seven hailstorms, which left all of my bigger plants looking tattered. Despite the holes in their leaves, the sunflowers kept growing and by early August the sheer weight of the buds caused the plants to start to collapse. I propped them up as best I could, but my battle against gravity was only partially successful. One of the buds/blossoms sank so low that the neighborhood squirrels managed to sever it and carry it off. I went out to water one day and realized here was nothing left but the stalk. The other three plants bloomed spectacularly, even if their sunny faces eventually ended up turned toward the earth rather than the sun.
After the squirrels and the finches, I feared I wouldn’t have any seeds to collect, but one blossom had quite a few. I brought most of them to the library. Next year I hope to utilize the Seed Library even more. I would encourage anyone interested in gardening to explore the Seed Library. There’s something there for everyone, from beginning gardeners who barely know the basics, to experienced ones who are searching for the ideal mixture of blooms to provide color, fragrance and food for pollinators throughout the summer and fall.
If you’re a practical sort who wants a more tangible reward for your efforts rather than pretty blossoms, the Seed Library offers dozens of vegetable and herb varieties. Nothing tastes as good as a succulent homegrown tomato or a salad made with fresh-picked vegetables. And dried seasonings from a jar can’t begin to compare to the enticing flavors and aromas of savory herbs grown in your own garden.
Next year’s gardening season is still months away, but you can always dream. The Seed Library is located on the 3rd floor, near the Ask Here Desk. So come check it out and begin planning for next year.