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Hey Windsor: Let's Plant Sunflowers for Ukraine!

Windsor Garden Club is giving away free sunflower seeds for planting as part of its "Sunflowers for Ukraine" project. The club is joining gardeners around the world in the effort to plant sunflowers to show support for Ukraine in the wake of its invasion by Russia Feb. 24. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. The country is one of the world's top producers of sunflower oil, and it's a major component of Ukraine's economy. "We're hoping to get people all over Windsor to plant sunflowers this summer to show support for Ukraine and solidarity with Ukrainians," said Windsor Garden Club President Teresa Hendrix. The flowers are easy to grow and require only average amounts of water - a good thing in a dry year, she said.

The club is offering free packets of Eden Brothers Sunflower seeds: "Sunspot," a dwarf variety (grows to three feet high) with yellow flowers, and "Mammoth Gray Stripe," a 6-footer with a giant yellow flower. They're free to Windsor residents as long as supplies last. Both should be planted in full sun. Planting instructions are to: 1. break up the soil to a depth of two inches, 2. place the seeds one inch deep and cover with soil. (The freshly broken up inch of soil beneath the seed will make it easy for the seed to sprout.) Be sure to cover the seeds with at least one inch of soil, or the birds are sure to eat them. Keep the soil moist while seeds are sprouting, water daily while plants are young, and then put them on the watering schedule with the rest of the garden as they mature. The dwarf "Sunspot" variety can be planted 12 inches apart; the "Mammoth Gray" seeds should be planted three feet apart. "Sunspot" seeds can be planted in front of "Mammoth" seeds for a nice layering effect in the garden. Click here for more planting instructions. Windsor's nonprofit garden club will be giving away the Sunflower Seeds at two events through the end of April. The first is at the "Bee Curious event April 16 from 1 to 3 PM Saturday April 16 at Robbins Park. The park is located at 100 Billington Way in Windsor. Look for the Windsor Garden Club Table at the event, which is organized by Windsor Wellness Partnership. Other activities in Robbins Park that afternoon include a tour of its food forest and information and learning activities about bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Windsor Garden Club will also be giving away free sunflower seed envelopes at the Town Green Community Garden's "Open Garden Hours," from 10 AM to 2 PM Sunday, April 24. The Open Garden hours are part of the Town of Windsor's Earth Day celebration. Visitors are welcome to come walk through the garden, check out the beds planted by community gardeners, floral garden and herb borders. Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about planting, organic gardening, and water-thrifty irrigation. Gardeners are encouraged to post photos of their sunflowers after they bloom with the hashtags #windsorstrong and #standwithukraine. About Sunflowers and Ukraine: The flowers were introduced to Ukraine in the mid-1700s and have been grown there ever since. The bright yellow flowers are a feature of Ukrainian embroidery and part of traditional floral headdresses worn during celebration. The Ukrainian flag is said to be modeled after the Ukrainian sunflower fields: bright blue sky on top, sunflower yellow underneath.

At anti-war protests and rallies for Ukraine across the glove in the month since the Russian invasion, participants have been carrying sunflower bouquets as a sign of support. The sunflower planting movement was kicked off by a viral video posted on social media the first day of the invasion, featuring a Ukrainian grandmother swearing at a Russian soldier for "occupying" her country and attempting to hand him sunflower seeds. "Put the sunflower seeds in your pockets, please," she shouts at him. "You will lie down here with the seeds." Some translations of the conversation have her adding "and sunflowers will grow from your grave." Check out the video here.


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