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When summer is in peak, so are the sunflowers in all their colorful glory. According to my research, there are about seven different places close to DC where you can enjoy this flower. We visited the McKee-Beshers WMA field this summer and were not disappointed. Hopefully, we can make it to another one from the list below.
Here is a list of the all the sunflower fields I know in the DC vicinity
Pick your own sunflowers! But not yet because they are currently closed due to a delay in the planting schedule. To stay updated on the peak bloom, please do not forget to visit their webpage. They also have sunflower mazes, a jump pad, a bouncy house, cornhole games, and many other family activities.
Clear Meadow Farms
This is a beautiful field, but unfortunately, you are not allowed to pick the sunflowers. They are harvested for their seeds. They were planted in July 17th, so they will not be in bloom until mid-September, when the weather should be nicer anyways. This is perfect for people that dislike the July-August heat or missed the mid-summer peak blooming. You can visit their website to stay updated. Besides sunflowers, they have a variety of agricultural products available.
Maryland Agricultural Resource Council
Typically, the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council celebrates the sunflower bloom with a Sunflower Soiree. This year, it was scheduled for July 28, but it has been cancelled due to the weather. They just planted a second crop that should be available in the fall. The Sunflower Soiree includes live jazz music, wine tastings, and sometimes they allow you to pick the sunflowers, depending if they are ready by the time of the festival.
McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area
Each year, the staff here plant thousands of sunflowers to attract game birds (hunting). The sunflowers are planted in nine fields and cover an area of 30 acres. This year, some fields peaked by July 22-23, and others may peak by July 29-30. I believe that picking the sunflowers is not permitted. To follow updates on when will they be in full bloom and to find directions on how to get there, please visit their website.
Rocky Point Creamery
Say no more! Ice-cream is just what you need after spending a few hours in the heat photographing sunflowers. They host a pick-your-own sunflower field, with all the proceedings going to the St. Jude’s Children Hospital. It looks like the sunflower peak bloom should be July 20-30, but you can also follow them on facebook to stay updated.
The Sunflower Garden
If you missed the McKee-Beshers WMA peak bloom, do not despair! The Sunflower Garden’s peak for the sunflowers is scheduled for August 15. This is another pick-your-own flower farm. They also have other wildflowers available, chickens, a pet bunny rabbit, and a veggie stand.
Maryland Sunflower Festival
Although it takes place in the Verdant Valley Farm, the farm’s management is not responsible for this event. The festival takes place in September, but I could not find the exact date on their website. I suspect they are waiting to see when the peak bloom might be. The festival offers great food and beverages, live music, and many other activities. They begin to sell tickets the first week of September and I hear it gets sold out quickly. Follow the updates on their website to stay on top of it!
Fun facts about sunflowers
- There is a Greek myth that says a nymph, Clytie, adored Apollo and he loved her back, briefly. Of course, Apollo being Apollo, fell in love with someone else, Leucothoe. Clytie, in jealousy, told Leucothoe’s father and he buried her alive. Apollo in anger, turned Clytie into a flower but even in flower form she still loved him, actually, I would say she was still obsessed with him. So she would spend her days watching him as he moved the sun across the sky in his chariot, just like sunflowers. There are many different versions of this story though!
- Speaking on scientific terms now, the act of the flower to follow the sun from east to west is called heliotropism.
- The genus name of the sunflower is Helianthus, which is rooted in two Greek words: “helios” meaning sun and “anthos” meaning flower.
- Last year, Science published an article which said that heliotropism can be explained by circadian rhythms.
- The turning is a result of different sides of the stem elongating at different times of the day. Science released an animation video to illustrate the phenomenon, and you can watch it here.
- Mature sunflowers, however, respond differently to the sun, by reacting more strongly to the early sun-rays and it gradually stops moving westward during the day.
- East-facing flowers attract five times more pollinators than west-facing flowers. This is because east-facing flowers heat up faster, and bees like warm flowers.