Suddenly in this sorry summer, it’s sunflower time. And a little masked joy for the big blooms is in order at area farms.
Helianthus is the proper name of this category of large flowers with the daisy-like face. Fun fact: Except for a few species in South America, all Helianthus species are native to North America and Central America (but also popular in Germany).
Judging by the summer foot traffic at Buttonwood Farm on Shetucket Turnpike in Griswold, you might think sunflowers are native to that eastern Connecticut town. (Of course, the ridiculously good Buttonwood ice cream doesn’t hurt.)
And there’s a charity connection in coming weeks. Each year Buttonwood plants more than 14 acres of sunflowers and harvests about 300,000 blooms for visitors’ viewing pleasure and (for about $10 a bunch) to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, the nonprofit organization dedicated to granting wishes to children with critical illnesses.
There are also tractor rides and other activities for the family during the eight-day event ending Aug. 2. (As with any event these days, bring a mask and keep social distance.)
Middlefield’s Lyman Orchards has a Sunflower Maze that will likely open from Saturday, Aug. 1, to Aug. 30, according to a receptionist.
Families take the challenge to avoid getting totally lost among 350,000 blooming red and yellow sunflowers. This year promises a “Back in Space” theme. Fun trivia clues will help guide the way through the maze. Also for charity, $1 of each admission is donated to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The Sunflower Maze has raised over $107,000 for Connecticut Children’s Hospital.
In the Litchfield area, try Freund’s Farm Market on Norfolk Road in East Caanan, which has cut-your-own flowers daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., along with edible items from donuts to tomatoes and squash.