Find what is important to you. Cultivate it.

Sunflower seed from the Ghetto Melrose garden. © Ryan Schierling

We've had the tiniest garden in downtown Seattle for a few years now. A four-foot by eight-foot patch of dirt has provided us with little tomatoes, little peppers, little cucumbers and little herbs. Surrounding the wee plot have been gargantuan sunflowers, originally seeds planted from D. Landreth Seed Company and followed up in subsequent years by volunteers and intentionally-sown next-gen seeds from the dinner-plate-sized heads of the 10-foot-tall beasts that pushed themselves out of the ground, imitating the Space Needle a few blocks over.

Our growing season is historically short. Plants that have survived have done so because they had to, there was no other choice. There have been disappointments, withered runts, plants twisted and dying in the limited two months of summer heat that Seattle offers. But the sunflowers have always thrived, from April to September, which never fails to surprise me.

(L) Sunflower head, 16" across. (R) Harvesting seeds to plant next year in Austin. © Ryan Schierling

In less than a month, we move across the country to Austin, Texas. In my pocket are keys to a little house with a big yard, big enough for a proper garden and a tall row of sunflowers along the fenceline. The long, sere summers are hotter and certainly less forgiving.

But I have no doubt these seeds from Seattle – from the Ghetto Melrose garden – will thrive, thrusting out of the ground with their leaves, and eventually, their giant faces toward the bright light and summer heat, producing seeds and propagating for years to come.

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