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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

A Mutant Grows in Kansas: Update

by KC Compton

Tags: At My Place, Record-Breaking Sunflower, Swallowtail Butterfly, Sunflower, Giant Primrose Sunflower, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, Container Garden, KC,

KCI think I have now figured out the identity of the giant sunflower in my backyard (see previous blog post). I believe it is the ‘Giant Primrose’ variety that I bought at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Although that variety isn’t supposed to grow taller than 12 feet—and this one is at least 16 feet and still going now), it now has graced me with three flowers and I believe the 'Primrose' variety looks closest. They are way up there, so I couldn't really study them closely (let's hear it for ye olde Canon zoom lens).

My Giant Primrose Sunflower 

I hope I can cadge some seeds from it before the birds get to all of them, although I don’t know if I should encourage its hyperactive ways. The idea of making a sunflower fort for my grandson someday (courtesy of a reader whose post I can’t find now) is appealing, however, and I did promise seed to a few folks. So I’ll wait until fall and chop it down and hope the Jolly Sun Giant doesn’t come fee-fie-fo-fum-ing after me.

Sunflower Going Up 

The bottom of this photo is a little taller than the top of my head. I am 5'4", so you see what I mean when I say this is an impressively tall plant.

We are definitely in the waning days of summer now, even though the temps here in eastern Kansas are in the 100s again this week. It's a little sad to behold what remains of my much-utilized parsley plant in the kitchen container garden. The swallowtails have landed and I now have parsley sticks, with one tiny, hopeful leaf at the very bottom of the plant. Next year, I’m planting an entire garden bed for them. I hate not having fresh parsley, but I love how much the swallowtail caterpillars love the plants. They’re also fond of fennel and dill, so that ought to be an easy-to-grow, if not entirely attractive, little patch in the Back Forty.

So funny, isn’t it, that I feel fond toward the caterpillars that completely stripped my parsley plants, but I wanted to take a shotgun to the tomato horn worms—also merely caterpillars doing what caterpillars do—who decimated my tomato plants earlier in the year. For some reason they were so icky they made my skin crawl, but the swallowtail caterpillars evoke kind, maternal feelings.

Do you have warm feelings toward any members of  the insect world?