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Garden journal entry


August 13, 2017. Mexican sunflower was one of the first annuals I grew from seed indoors. That spring, nearly 20 years ago, I transformed a guest room into a plant nursery (several years before it became the other kind of nursery), hit the seed catalogs, and tried out some new plants. My co-conspirator was Amy, then my girlfriend, soon to be my fian̤̩e. Among the new plants to try was Tithonia rotundifolia Рnot uncommon by any means, but not sold at nurseries. The plants found a home in the newly created side garden of our Pennsylvania home, and did marvellously, treating us to a continuous show of cheerful orange sunflowers all summer. When we scheduled our backyard wedding for mid-September of that year, we decided all guests would enter through the side garden, so it became my mission to keep the flower show going. I meticulously deadheaded and kept things fertilized, and sure enough, the Mexican sunflowers and their neighbors looked wonderful on the big day. Ever since, Tithonia has had a special meaning to us, and we grew new plants every year from seed collected the previous year. When the side garden became shadier, they moved to the curve garden, but they were always part of the garden.
Having moved to Houston, seed starting wasn't very high on my to-do list, and I have yet to re-establish any kind of nursery operation. But I did try to grow a number of favorites by direct-sowing into our newly established borders – and one of them was tithonia. It was one of only a few varieties that decided to send up seedlings, and it seemed to take forever for them to grow to a reasonable size. But now, finally, we are rewarded with those familiar orange flowers. It seems fitting that they have followed us here to the Gulf Coast, descendants of our original crop of wedding ornamentals.

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Last modified: September 09, 2009
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