The sunflower fields planted at Forks-of-the-River Wildlife Management Area are spectacular this year.
The huge composites are pretty to look at but we are not why they are there. The sprawling former farmland is now state-owned and under the care of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The fields are managed to feed wildlife and that's what the sunflowers will do this fall when they all turn to seed.
According to the ProFlower website, cultivated sunflowers as a food source for people and animals originated in the Americas about 1,000 B.C., and have been cultivated for centuries. "With the European exploration of the New World, the flower’s popularity spread, as the rest of the world began to appreciate its beauty and sustenance." They were made famous by artist Vincent van Gogh, but those flowers planted in Arles, France originated in eastern North America.
Amy Oakey and Eric Johnson, are the volunteer leaders of the Ijams Hiking Club. We hike once a month. Last Saturday they led a Sunflower Saunter to and around the fields, early in the morning before the intense heat that has been with us for the past couple of weeks.
Needless to say, it was a colorful day.
Thank you, Amy and Eric!
- Stephen Lyn Bales