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Bring me sunshine.. ON STALKS; Gardening.

Byline: with Adrienne Wild

EVEN the tiniest garden can grow giant sunflowers.

With the right variety and a little sunshine you might even need a stepladder to reach those dazzling, daisy-like flower heads.

Plant-breeding wizards have also worked their magic so they come in almost every shade and combination of red, orange and yellow.

Being a popular choice with flower arrangers, they have created some firstrate cutting varieties that last at least two weeks in a vase. Just make sure you change the water regularly.

Many varieties, such as Velvet Queen, produce multiple stems of lovely red flowers. Firecracker produces five to 15 medium-sized red and gold flowers per stem and apricot-coloured Apricot Twist has no powdery pollen to make you sneeze or mess up your decor.

To recreate Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, though, grow Vincent's Mixed. You will get a variety of flower colours and sizes to keep your vase filled with sneeze-free blooms all summer long.

Sunflowers can be used in flowerbeds or to create a temporary informal hedge or screen to distract your eye from messy areas.

Eclipse

For this purpose, try the variety Jammie Dodger, which produces single, double and semi-double flowers in a beautiful combination of red and gold on free-branching plants.

Best for bold borders is Ruby Eclipse, which bears red blooms edged with yellow all round its stems.

Or try Ginger Nut, which has fullydouble flowers up to 30cm across on 1.5m tall plants and Valentine with its bright lemon yellow flowers and dark centre.

Dwarf sunflowers are also a useful ingredient for late-summer containers and Teddy Bear has the cuddliest petal-packed blooms.

If your plan is to break records, then you must grow Titan, the true giant of all sunflowers.

It grows up to three metres tall and produces stunning flowers up to 60cm across that twist and turn to face the sun. Pump in plenty of water and feed to fuel these hungry plants and you will not be disappointed.

Plants will flower in as little as 60 days from sowing.

They can be sown now, in a sunny spot in the garden where you want them to flower.

Expect blooms in late summer that last until the frosts kill them off.

Try toasting the seeds for a healthy snack - but pick them early because the birds love them too.

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2017
Words:391
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