Cult of the Sunflower

Dear Liza,

It is hard to remember during these hot summer days, but for MOST of the year, Portland has very cool, cloudy weather. Besides being chilly, it can cause vitamin deficiencies which effect people’s moods and sleep patterns. Doctors here make sure everyone (even the pets!) get vitamin D supplements, because we miss a lot of sunshine.

So I guess it makes sense that we worship the sun a little. Or, barring that, the sunflower. Yep, these tall yellow beauties are very big here, in all senses of the word.

There is a house down by Seawellcrest Park that perfectly shows this obsession with sunflowers. Not only does it host a forest of the giants every summer, but their shape is echoed in the stones and metalwork decorations. These let you remember, walking by in the winter, to “watch this space” for the next summer’s crop.

We paid a happy visit to the “Sunflower House” on the Fourth, watching the bees do their thing and feeling the sun on our backs.

But sunflowers are not all that easy to grow. I have sown a dozen seeds or more, and they have all died in the ground or just after sprouting. I will chat with my local garden colleagues and find the right varieties for this area, and, as all gardeners say, “We’ll do better next year.”


Grandma Judy

Fall Color

Dear Liza,

In Fall, Portland puts on some really fabulous colors. And today was so bright and chilly that we went out for a walk to enjoy them.

I love walking in the late afternoon because the light pours beautifully through the leaves.

The cosmos flowers one of our neighbors planted have gotten taller than me! They looked so pretty against the bright blue sky.

The last of the sunflowers are still blooming nicely just beside the cosmos.

We were getting very chilly on our walk, and passed by the Nandinas on our way home.

The weather forecast for to night is 29 degrees, just a little below freezing. I have moved the geraniums from Great Grandma Billie’s garden closer to the house and will cover them with a sheet to protect them from the frost.

Our movie for the evening is Cary Grant in “Arsenic and Old Lace”.


Grandma Judy

More Fall Beauty

Dear Liza,img_1184-21.jpg

The sunshine has returned! I thought it was gone until Spring, but this week has been as bright and dry as August in Salinas.

I have pictures but no words, so I will borrow some from the English poet John Keats, who wrote it in the fall of 1819.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness

Close-bosomed friend of the maturing sun

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;IMG_1130.jpg

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel-shells IMG_1187.jpg

With sweet kernal; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells…

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.