I haven't grown sunflowers in many seasons. I used to get volunteer sunflowers in the backyard after one season of growing them from seeds. They would do really well because nature knows best when it comes to timing things like germination. One thing I noticed though, was that all subsequent generations of volunteer sunflowers never grew like the original giant, but rather smaller and bushier with lots of side shoots and thus, smaller flowers. They look much like the wild ones we see along the state highways in Colorado.
This spring though, I'm in a growing race with a friend in France to see which one of us gets the tallest sunflower and the first bloom. ^^ She had a head start on me with indoor starts. I was still getting my backyard strip of flower bed ready bit by bit. It's still not as nice as my SFG boxes with lots of organic substances, but the sunflowers I planted in the past always did well without much attention and fussing from me, so I'm hoping that once they get going, they'll do just fine mostly on their own. Anyhow, the packet of Mammoth Russian (or is it Russian Mammoth...?) I had was several years old, but I put them in the ground anyway to see if they'd germinate. I also had a packet of seeds of other sunflowers that are shorter with different colored petals that was a few years old, so I put these seeds in the ground as well. A week later, I saw some sunflower seedlings. The one in the photo above is the biggest one I've seen so far.
These are one of the four large clumps of irises along our garage. They are pretty much left on their own (You can see the old stalks and dead leaves from previous season in the picture.) and the only water they get is the runoff water from the roof when it rains (And THAT hardly happens here in the desert west of Colorado.). They do, however, perform very well every spring, protected by the garage and kept warm from the reflected and radiating heat off the siding.
Here is the photo of one of the roses in my front yard. This one is in the dappled sun from the wisteria vines. I can't remember what the variety was, but I think they look a lot like Angel Face. ^^;
This is one of the hybrid irises I have in our front yard. The heavily crinkled petals give the ruffled appearance. The blue is a deliciously rich shade of royal blue. And the petals glisten in the sunlight. (So many things the camera fails to capture... ^^; ) I can't remember the name of the variety, though.
A slightly different angle of the same iris. It's showing a little more purple than it actually is. The actual color is closer to the first photo.
After the irises are done blooming, with the peonies and bachelor's buttons also done blooming about the same time, I will have a lull in the garden until the roses really pick up. It got me thinking though, because after the first series of blooming by the roses, I will have a period of time where there's no bright color going in my front yard until the canna and cosmos start to flower. This got me motivated to till the small empty space behind the irises in my front bed where nothing is growing at the moment. I'll plant some kind of annuals so weed control will be easier from season to season.