Helianthus annuus, now and then

SUNFLOWERS are the true American beauty. They have it all: stamina, fast growth, architecture, fecundity, attitude and, above all, color. The proportions twixt stem and head are so sweetly comical that all it takes is the sight of a sunflower display at Trader Joe’s to defuse the rage that brews daily in its parking lots.

In the wild, sunflowers are so stunning that driving down the 110 past Dodger Stadium, it is hard not to crash as one catches sight of a freeway verge studded with gold. As L.A.’s hillsides turn brown in late summer heat, somehow wild sunflowers still glow from the brush.

Click here to keep reading about how the only thing different from the sunflowers that you buy in Trader Joe’s and the wild type that you see to the freeway (and in the photos, left), is 4,000 years of cultivation. It’s not a recent Dry Garden