A few years ago, we decided to grow a sunflower house for our grandchildren in the spring. We used sticks and strings to map out a section of ground for the tiny house, leaving a clear space at one end for the door.

We cleared out the grass and rocks and dug a small trench underneath the string. Then we planted two rows of giant sunflower seed about six inches apart so that the sunflower walls would be thick. Finally, we watered and mulched them and watch them grow.

When the grandchildren visited in the summer, they were delighted to find their own sunflower house to play in. They loved it, and so did the birds.

They have mostly grown out of playing in sunflower houses, but they still love to help in our garden and pick the wild sunflowers that grow in our yard.

There are three groups of sunflowers; tall sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, colored sunflowers. There are also over 50 varieties, ranging from the common sunflower that sometimes grows without an invitation to the tall sunflowers grown as decoration in private gardens that usually only have one flower per stem.

One of the rarest types of sunflowers, Schweinitz’s sunflowers, was named after Lewis David von Schweintz, a botanist who discovered the species in the early 1800s. They can grow to be about 6 feet tall.

Sunflowers are universally loved, representing happiness, optimism, honesty, longevity, peace, admiration, and devotion.

With their round face and outstretched petals, they look like a burst of sunshine, turning their faces to the sun.

They are hardy plants that are drought-resistant and have deep roots that represent vitality and longevity.

One thing most people don’t know is that sunflowers are also symbols of nuclear disarmament. I know. That sounds weird. Right?

However, a little-known fact is when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, the new nation of Ukraine held the third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. In 1996, Ukraine committed to complete nuclear disarmament.

Representatives from the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine planted sunflowers in the previous nucleus missile location to honor the occasion.

But why did they plant sunflowers? Not only are the bright yellow flowers symbols of peace and optimism, but they also possess the ability to absorb radioactive isotopes.

Sunflowers have been planted at both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disaster sites because they help clean the environment of radioactive toxins.

Sunflowers have the power to soothe troubled souls. One of the most famous portrayals of sunflowers in the world is Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork. The troubled painter traveled to Arles in the south of France for the landscapes and bright sunshine. Painting the sunflowers brought him a level of peace and serenity.

One of the most beautiful sunflower fields I have seen in a while was when we visited the Southern Grace Farm, named after Gracie LeAnn Demit, this last weekend.

Along with friends and family, her mom and dad planted 250 pounds of sunflower seeds to remember their daughter, Gracie, who died last year.

Her mother said she was concerned that the flowers were not as vibrant as they should be because of the drought. I listened as she talked about her amazing daughter, who loved sunflowers. It seemed like the powerful description of the sunflower reflects the testimony of this beautiful young life.

Nature is one of God’s beautiful creations. Through nature, God teaches us, speaks to us, and provides for us. It has a way of soothing our souls by reminding us to look to the Son. He knows how to heal our hearts, give us peace, and give us the strength to go on, even when there is a drought in our hearts.

If you think you missed your chance to plant sunflowers this year, don’t worry. Even though the best time to plant them is in March or April, you can still plant them right now to enjoy in the fall.

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