After a challenging time this past 18 months, many of us are looking for something to do that helps celebrate life, and the feeling of re-emergence and joy we feel.  A group of residents at Kendal at Longwood, including Judy Hinds and Lynn Williams, began to think of some way to create a common garden, having many residents participate, that would bring this sense of joy. After meeting with Martha Stephens, horticultural director at Kendal-Crosslands Communities, the group decided on planting a large sunflower garden.

When we heard about the project, we were reminded of a great quote in the movie “Calendar Girls”:

“I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun, but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

photo by resident, Judy Czeiner 

And just like our greater community, there are so many varieties of sunflowers as well- different colors, different heights, some better for seed, some better for cutting. Sunflowers are a great metaphor for everything we’ve been through this past year. We were able to “Bloom where we were planted”, and persevered even when things seemed bleak or frustrating. And each step of the way, we were able to nurture each other, bit by bit, and emerge ready to take on the world again.

2021: Year of the Sunflower

This idea of the Sunflower as a great metaphor for what we’ve been through seems to be catching on! The National Garden Bureau has designated 2021 the Year of the Sunflower

It’s hard to not love these lovely flowers. Practically speaking, very few plants are as heat-tolerant, resistant to pests, and simply beautiful. Sunflowers also make excellent cut flowers, which we will be able to share with residents who may not be able to see the garden in person. Sunflowers are also very attractive to bees and birds, making them an excellent addition to the habitats here on campus. Plus, at the end of the season, we may be able to harvest sunflower seeds for replanting, or to help feed the birds in the many feeders located throughout campus.

Martha Stephens, the Horticultural Director at Kendal-Crosslands is excited. “We’ll have a mix of direct sow plants, and plants that the residents will start in peat pots, and nurture before being added to the field. There are a variety of sunflowers being planted as well, which should make the garden lovely and varied, just like our residents!”

This will be the first year to try to grow a sunflower field, so we’re not entirely sure whether nature will cooperate, but we are hopeful that the field will grow and by late summer, a field of wonderful flowers, nurtured by the community, many one plant at a time, will be able to be enjoyed by all. We will keep you up to date with pictures of the field as it progresses, and we can all share in its progress.

Learn More About Kendal-Crosslands Communities

You can find out more about our community by downloading our digital brochure, by clicking below. Started in 1973, Kendal-Crosslands Communities has been transforming the experience of aging for nearly 50 years, and projects like this one are just one example of how we strive to work together to make our community a happier and better place to live.