Sunny side up
Sunflowers which do better in cooler, northern summers have been revealed after three years of trials at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire. More than 50 varieties were planted in 2015 to celebrate the garden industry’s Year of the Sunflower and 30 were chosen for planting.
Dwarf and compact varieties, no taller than 1.2m (4ft), have done particularly well, with golden ‘Little Leo’, 45cm (18in) tall; red and cream ‘Ms Mars’, 60cm (2ft) tall; semi-double, yellow ‘Garden Statement’, 90cm (3ft) tall, and lemon ‘Wahoo’, 1.05m (3ft 6in) tall, leading the way.
“We used dwarf varieties as we’re on an exposed site and to reduce staking,” said curator Paul Cook. “We also planted two groups of tall, large-headed sunflowers, like ‘Velvet Queen’, tied to frameworks in our fruit cages. They’ve done well, but we avoid heavy-headed, show-stoppers in favour of multi-flowered types due to the weather.”
Spent flower heads are hung on structures around the garden for birds to pick the seeds.
Award-winning, dwarf, multi-headed sunflower ‘Wahoo’ has performed well at Harlow Carr
Tall favourite ‘Velvet Queen’