Tuesday, 9 June 2009

#3 Sunflowers

One of the themes that we identified for picture content in Futurescope is growing crops for both their appearance and their food value. Productive parkland if you like.

We have as a family quite a bit of experience of growing sunflowers and first tried it on our allotment at home. My eldest son was four at the time and alongside the onions, potatoes, raspberries, cabbages etc. that we were growing for the table we made him a flower bed full of the kind of plants that like to ‘show off’, pumpkins, sweet peas and, of course: sunflowers. It was a boiling summer and we went away on holiday so when we came back the allotment was massively overgrown. Most impressive of all was my son’s flower bed.

When he saw it he turned round and said that ‘all his plants had escaped!’ The pumpkins had climbed out from beyond the border of the bed and the sunflowers were at least twice as tall as he was. It had all looked very different only a fortnight earlier.

The energy of plants is fantastic and thinking about the idea of plants that could be used as a crop something that would look both decorative and be productive we thought about several for Futurescope like Hybrid Willow and Miscanthus which are grown as biomass crops for carbon free energy production. We thought about rape (and rapeseed oil) and flower cropping. We had discussed sunflowers specifically in relation to our ideas for the greenspace between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

I also remember driving through Italy on honeymoon over 10 years ago and seeing sunflowers grown as a crop for the first time.

During the day their heads would follow the path of the sun and it was almost impossible not to regard them as people with faces. We stopped and took loads of photos.
We settled on sunflowers in the end because they are so beautiful and because we felt that people would think positively about them. Hopefully people will think of them as something decorative and something natural that they themselves might have pleasant memories of.

We see this kind of planting and thinking as being a potential future for the management of urban green space and we think that there is a point where grounds management and productive farming could meet.

We think that this is the future of how the spaces between buildings in cities could be managed and we think that it is a positive future.

We are very optimistic about this future.

We have loads of Sunflower seeds to give away. Please plant yours and when you have photos post them to the Futurescope page on Facebook.

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