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GARDEN SURROUNDINGS: Sunflowers, the Funflowers!

By Francesca Filanc.

(Previously published as a blog online at

Photo credit: Francesca Filanc.
A girlfriend gave Francesca a bunch of sunflower seeds. She planted them and WOW! So much FUN!

Photo credit:
Francesca Filanc paints what she grows.

Sunflowers are so much FUN to Grow! If you have a place where you can put them every year they give so much joy. I smile every time I walk out and look at the field full of these tall prehistoric plants. Maybe that is why we love them so much, they have been around for a long time, and we feel the earth connection all the way back to cave man and beyond.

Photo credit: Francesca Filanc.
"I actually did not know why I had never grown sunflowers earlier!" - Francie Filanc

Photo credit: Francesca Filanc.
It is FUN to sit and paint sunflowers or take pictures to put on Facebook 🙂 or just sit, smile and watch them grow.

In late June of 1996, my husband Peter, daughter Erica and I traveled to Madrid, Spain to see our older daughter Yvette who had been an exchange student from UCSD for the whole year. We all then traveled by Eurail, using Rick Steves' suggestions for lodging and places to visit throughout Europe for one month.

Photo credit: Filanc Family Archives.
Author’s daughters in Provence, France, 1996.

First stop off of the Eurail was the town of Arles, a town rich in Roman history and ruins in the province of Provence, France. We stayed in a small hotel for one week traveling to charming small towns such as Aix-en-Provence enjoying the multitude of nature sites by traveling through the countryside from small town to small town. The countryside was carpeted with fields of sunflowers and fields of lavender. In breathtaking excitement, the girls and I ran into some of these fields and we could not stop taking pictures! It was an awe-inspiring experience.

Photo credit: Filanc Family Archives.
Fran and her daughter Erica in a field full of sunflowers, Provence, France, 1996 .

Several years later, Peter and I moved to a property that had lots of land. I planted a Giverny style garden with nasturtiums lining one of the paths that led all the way down to some horses in pastures far below our home. A girlfriend stopped by one day and exclaimed "Fran, why don’t you grow sunflowers?" I actually had no idea why I had never grown them! Especially since we had experienced the beauty and wonder of this ancient plant in the south of France a few years earlier.

Photo credit: Filanc Family Archives.
Fran and Pete in the sunflowers, France, 1996.

I love the very tall ones. This particular girlfriend gave me a bunch of seeds. I planted them and WOW! So much FUN! The next year I planted a second Parterre of them so that I might still have some when my grandchildren come to visit. After planting the seeds, I cover the area with netting so the crows don’t pull up my seedlings. I put the netting about three feet high on stakes. When the sunflowers reach the netting, I remove it and they continue to grow up to eight or nine feet tall! Inspired by my travels, my friends and my own garden, I buy many different kinds of sunflower seeds online; some for their height, some for their seed production, and some for the mammoth flowers. And then it is FUN to sit and paint them or take pictures to put on Facebook 🙂 or just sit, smile and watch them grow. Have Fun Growing Sunflowers!

Photo credit: Francesca Filanc.
Have fun growing sunflowers!

Want to learn more? Read this fascinating article here: Forty Eight Million Years before Van Gogh – Eocene Sunflowers - Fossils of Ancient Member of the Daisy Family Discovered in Argentina. By Mike, September 29, 2010, for


Photo credit: Francesca Filanc Facebook.

Artist, writer, photographer, fly-fisher woman, Francesca Filanc grew up in old Del Mar and these days lives, paints and gardens in historic Olivenhain with two French poodles.

Find her art and writings here:

She can be found on social media here:

Have gardening questions or want to learn more about Francie’s art? Contact:

Francesca Filanc is a published artist, writer and photographer. Seen here with her Petrea volubilis vine in bloom.


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