Sunflowers: a feast for your eyes, and for pollinators | Alys Fowler

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Now’s the time to sow these jolly giants, our gardening expert says, but beware: bigger isn’t always better

The annual sunflower needs no introduction; it is a thing full of cheer, always turning its head to the sun to entice the bees. It is as marvellous in seed as it is in flower and, if left in place, will have songbirds flocking to enjoy its bounty all autumn long.

The brilliant yolk-yellow sorts are well known – every supermarket, garden centre and hardware store will have a packet of some super-sized version for growing to towering heights (they can reach four metres or more). ‘Mongolian Giant’, ‘Giraffe’ and ‘Kong’ are all best if you want such things, but you’ll need scaffolding to go with them, otherwise the plants will tumble.

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