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Have you seen the sunflowers in the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden this month? Let’s take a closer look to see what’s going on.

PHOTO: Sunflower nodding down toward the ground.

Many of the blossoms have lost their yellow petals and are bending down.
We need to take a closer look.

PHOTO: Very close up picture of a sunflower.

Just a little closer …

PHOTO: Extreeme close up of the middle of a sunflower, showing the tiny florets and sunflower seeds.

There!

Now you can see that one sunflower is actually made of hundreds of very small flowers. Notice the tiny, yellow, pointed petals of the individual flowers. Each blossom produces one seed. You can see the seeds where they have matured at the top edge of this sunflower. Can you find the spot where one seed is missing? Perhaps it fell out or was eaten by bird.

Sunflowers are what we call “composite” flowers, so named because they are composed of many florets growing so close together they appear to be one flower. If you look carefully at the arrangement of the flowers and seeds, you might notice a spiral pattern.

Other composite flowers you may know are daisies, dandelions, and mums. There are many composite flowers blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden right now. Come for a visit to check it out, and bring your favorite magnifier so you can take a closer look at the real thing.

Visit chicagobotanic.org/learningcampus/growinggarden for more information on the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden.

Boyce Tankersley, Director of Living Plant Documentation, takes us on a tour of what’s blooming in the display gardens on the first day of fall.

Sweeps of perennials on Evening Island, the cascading mums on the Visitor Center bridge, and masses of mums in the Crescent Garden, are found in the boundaries of our formal garden areas. Our show doesn’t end there, however — find gorgeous asters and sunflowers in the English Walled Garden, Japanese anemones and Endless Summer hydrangeas in the Waterfall Garden, mums mixed with later blooming annuals like zinnias and rudbeckia in the Sensory Garden, and an amazing array of colorful annuals in the Circle Garden.

We only visited six of the 25 display gardens, so come out to see them all this fall! Visit chicagobotanic.org/inbloom/ for more information on what’s in bloom.