Written, Photographed and Styled by Matthew Mead
While fall in New Hampshire has many folks making a trek to the leafy and colorful slopes of the North Country, it’s actually in the southern part of the state where botanical enthusiasts can find their most sunny autumn fix. Hollis, a vital and vibrant farming community close to Nashua, is the home of Lull Farm, a purveyor of fine local produce, plants and cut flowers. Among their fall offerings: golden fields of the magnificent sunflower.
Lull is a magical spot, a storybook setting with the most beautiful pumpkins and autumn trimmings. Take a stroll on their property and be drawn to the abundant field of sunflowers. People come from all over to visit, take pictures, and even have small wedding ceremonies amongst the blooms, which are reminiscent of the south of France. It’s particularly enchanting just before dusk, when the field glows in golden yellow tones. Flowers bloom into mid-October, and you can purchase cut stems singly, in bouquets or in beautiful arrangements. Specimens vary in size and variety, and can be used in all kinds of ways.
How to Cut Sunflowers for Arranging
- Cut sunflowers early in the morning, just as the outer petals are beginning to rise off the bloom.
- Use a sharp blade to ensure a clean cut, helping to prolong the vase life of your flower. Cut stem at desired length, at a 45° angle, to prevent the stem from resting flat on the bottom of your vessel.
- Strip cut sunflowers of all leaves, except for those next to the flower head. Fewer leaves mean better hydration for the flower.
- Place cut flowers in a container of water immediately after trimming.
- Maintain clean water in your vase, changing water every two to three days to prolong the life of your cut flowers.
Prepare Passing Blooms for the Birds
Cut off the entire bloom when you are ready to harvest the seeds. Next, place it in a net bag or tie a piece of cheesecloth around it before hanging it upside-down from a piece of kitchen twine. The flower head should be hung in a warm, dry place with good air circulation for about three weeks. Seeds will easily drop from the bloom and can be further dried for a week on a a piece of screening. Fill hanging trays or birdfeeders, but beware the bears and squirrels.
Sunflower seeds are rich in nutrients and beloved by the birds. Here’s a list of feathered friends you might attract with an offering of sunflower seeds: Finches, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, cardinals, jays, and even some species of woodpeckers.