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I’ll Follow the Sun (flowers)

Written, Photographed and Styled by Matthew Mead

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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

  1. Cut sunflowers early in the morning, just as the outer petals are beginning to rise off the bloom.
  2. 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.
  3. Strip cut sunflowers of all leaves, except for those next to the flower head. Fewer leaves mean better hydration for the flower.
  4. Place cut flowers in a container of water immediately after trimming.
  5. 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.

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BRIGHT IDEA
A hand-carved wooden pitchfork makes a sunny welcome on a farmer’s porch while drying the delicious seeds for the birds.

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SUN TEA
Sunflower seeds steeped in water and tinged with honey make a welcome autumn refresher over ice. Add a vintage wood molding emblem with a sunflower motif as an impromptu coaster.

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HERE COMES THE SUN
Create a showstopper with a mix of sunflower varieties arranged in a tall vase. Make it easy by placing a ball of chicken wire in the vessel and adding stems of multiple sizes. Change water daily for the freshest and longest-
lasting arrangement.

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SUN SPOTS
A collection of pottery bowls make a stunning centerpiece down the center of a dining table. Low arrangements make it easy to see your guests and make use of blooms that may be top-heavy with broken stems.

Categories: Fall and Foliage, Family-friendly things to do, Home & Garden, Pick Your Own, Seasonal Guides – Fall, Things to Do

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