Keep Your Sunny Side Right Side Out
Very often the details that make or break a garden are the small ones, the ones that might not occur to you as obvious, until it is too late. I like to remember this, by looking backwards to the much forgotten past, in the power of an Irish poem:
“No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look that she turned when he rose.”
It serves to me as a reminder of my first big gardening mistake. It seems I overlooked one small detail when I planned and planted it. I was unaware of one small significant fact — just like your clothes have a wrong side and a right side — so do plants. If you fail to take this phenonemon into consideration, you’ll be learning that the scientific term “heliotropism” (turning towards the sun) is something you’ll not forget the next time.
The technical explanation in botany for “plants turning towards the sun,” and not being aware of it can leave the best of garden plans in ruins. The first garden that I planted was on a lot that faced east. I thought it best to confine most of our flowers on the sides. I even dreamed at night how lovely my garden would be in full blooms looking out my bedroom window. Surprise! Surprise!
At first, my north flower border was looking pretty good, in fact I thought my every blossom was a prize winning “star.” However, soon I realized that something was amiss, especially on the south side of the garden. Sure, there were plenty of flower, but from my window and balcony, they didn’t look the way I dreamed they would.
The morning I realized that, I stomped out in my nightgown to investigate. Every flower had turned their faces from me and only my neighbors on the south had a view of their beauty — all I was destined to see was the backs of their necks. Now, a few brave flower souls were still my friends, they showed their pretty faces from most any angle.
Well, lesson learned, the next planting of my flowers, I have taken the time to make lists of which flowers were “sun-following” and which flowers were “impartial.” Just as important I learned from that first garden that a second set of considerations in flower garden design — sun-loving vs. shade-loving were equally important.
The best part of this whole experience is that I learned a lot about heliotropic plants. I’m not the only one. Today, there is such a thing as the biomimicry of heliotropic plants that have taught scientists a lesson from nature that could be replicated in the storage of solar energy.
If You’d Like To Know More About Heliotropism