Does any flower say "summer" better than sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)? These giants, with names like "Skyscraper" and "Mammoth," are awe-inspiring. From heights far above eye level, bright yellow, pizza-sized flowers turn their dark, seed-filled centers to follow the sun as it rides across the sky. Sunflowers need plenty of space and, of course, tons of sun. They also need staking and protection from wind, so plant them near a sheltering fence or wall.
Now, clear your mind for a moment and imagine red sunflowers. Or dwarfs with white, daisy-like petals. Or double forms with hundreds of petals crowding toward the center. These are sunflowers, too, with edible seeds and heliotropic habits (which means they turn toward the sun). The smaller varieties perform well in borders and don't require a ladder to harvest. The double and red sunflowers are fun for their diversity.
Speaking of diversity, if you've ever entertained the idea of creating your own, unique flower, see the next page.