Creative Writing,  Creativity

Learning from Sunflowers

Prince Edward County, 2016.

For the love of sunflowers

This morning I am reading about sunflowers. It’s on my bucket list to grow them in my yard. I’ve read the best time to plant the seeds is in the spring, two weeks before the last frost. Maybe a reminder on my calendar would help?

This is a great time of year because I can find sunflowers everywhere. On Labour Day weekend I was driving through the Warkworth area with a friend when we noticed a farm having a sale. The sign read something like “Neat old creative things.” The lawn was a collection of antiques and paintings on repurposed wood–all of the paintings were sunflowers. The fields surrounding the farm were also scattered with sunflowers. Such an inspiring setting! I could have explored all day.


Sunflowers everywhere

In my home, I have something with a sunflower on it in nearly every room. The kitchen is painted sunflower yellow. A sunflower wreath hangs on my door. One day I’ll wake up and like the lady who doesn’t realize she’s acquired so many cats, I’ll notice that the sunflowers are everywhere. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Or maybe I’ll be living inside a sunflower. Can you imagine? A circular, spiral home with rooms placed like seeds.

(Okay…I know. Imagining a sunflower home may be going too far? I googled “sunflower architecture” and found this amazing house in Spain designed to optimize the views and the light. Wow. If I win the lottery I want one of these!)


Inspired to paint

This winter I want to learn more about sunflowers. I want to be ready in the spring so I don’t miss the opportunity to plant them. I’d also like to be more like the man in Warkworth and paint sunflowers, lots of sunflowers, sunflowers for everyone. My first step will be to learn how to draw a sunflower. Any tips?

From standing in a field of sunflowers in Tuscany to gazing on their complexity through Van Gogh’s art in Amsterdam and Paris to driving past sunflowers every day on my way to work, I’ve been lucky to find sunflowers in many places.

Cheery, complex, beautiful sunflowers.


Which flower has found its way into your imagination?

Sunflowers in Tuscany, 2006.

The mathematical poetry of sunflowers

Leonardo Pisano Bigollo was a prominent Mathematician in the Middle Ages who was born in Italy and educated in North Africa.

He was known by his nickname, Fibonacci, a name made famous for a sequence of numbers that demonstrates spiral patterns in nature, including those in shells, pineapples, pine cones, and sunflowers.

The head of a sunflower has many spirals moving to the right and to the left, clockwise and counterclockwise, with seeds growing in logarithmic shapes that get wider as they move away from the centre. If you count the spirals in each direction of a sunflower you will find they often add up to numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…).

The Fibonacci pattern is simple, each number is the combination of the two numbers before: 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, and so on. Each new seed appears in relationship to the one prior. A sunflower could have thirty-four spirals clockwise and twenty-one spirals counterclockwise; or maybe fifty-five spirals clockwise and eighty-nine spirals counterclockwise. The number of spirals changes as the sunflower grows.

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