Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. You can show your sympathy and support for the struggling Ukranian people by planting sunflowers as encouragement. Photo: Dobra Kobra, depositphotos
By Larry Hodgson
I’m not a very political person, other than that I always vote for the Green Party. (Hey! We have a planet to save and they seem to be the only ones willing to do anything serious it!)
But, like many people, I’m sick over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia or, more specifically, Vladimir Poutin’s army. (We all know many Russian citizens are horrified by this invasion!) It just seems so much like Hitler’s Germany grabbing its neighbors one by one when my parents were young, leading to the Second World War. So, in sympathy and in support of the Ukrainian people, I’ll be planting sunflowers in my garden this summer.
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is the floral emblem of Ukraine (which is also the world’s major supplier of sunflower oil, so expect problems getting your hands on that too this summer!). It also features in the colors of their national flag: sunflower yellow and sky blue. They use their national flower everywhere: in fields and gardens, in flower arrangements and garlands, and cooking. This summer, given the circumstances, they may not be able to grow any.
Across the world, sunflowers are being painted on protest posters and pinned onto clothes to show sympathy for the Ukrainian people. Even the American first lady Jill Biden has been spotted wearing a mask embroidered with a sunflower. One Ukrainian woman is claimed to have shoved a handful of sunflower seeds into the hands of armed Russian soldiers, telling them to carry them in their pockets. That way, when their bodies fall to the ground, sunflowers will grow. Heavy!
I think gardeners should climb on board and sow sunflowers this summer. It’s so easy to do: just dig a shallow hole ¼ to ½ in (6 to 12 mm) deep in a sunny spot, drop in a few seeds, cover and water once. Dig, drop, done! The plants will be up and blooming in no time. Plus, sunflower seeds are inexpensive and widely available. And yes, you can grow them on a balcony too: you just need a big pot. So, no excuses!
You can learn more about sunflowers and growing them in the article Year of the Sunflower.
Just make sure your garden features sunflowers this summer. Let’s show Ukrainians the world is behind them!