Sunflower Jade Hybrid
Sunflowers (Helianthus annus) are popular annuals because not only do they provide beauty to a garden but they also serve as a food source for animals like birds, squirrels and humans. They also seem to have a special place in the hearts of people who don't even garden and be found replicated in many mediums from t-shirts to paintings. They've even sort of become the icon of Green ideology. This spring my sister gave me a packet of sunflower seeds she received at the gas station when she filled up her gas tank at BP.
Unless you're a gardener you may not know that there are many varieties of sunflowers available besides the generic orange or yellow colored flowers are so common in florist shops. One of those newer varieties that I grow is the Jade hybrid. I'm not sure which two were crossed to form this flower but I love the lime green color of this flower. My biggest pet peeve with this sunflower though is that is seems so susceptible to black spot. By the time the plant is in full bloom the leaves look so ugly that I want to tear it out of the garden. Of the two varieties I grow it is the fastest to bloom and set seeds. The early bloom and seed production seems to be appreciated by the American Goldfinch in my neighborhood. I've lived in Chicago most of my life and I've never seen this bird before I started growing sunflowers in my garden.
The Jade hybrid has blooms that span four-five inches across and grows to about five feet tall. I find that the smaller proportions of this sunflowers make it suitable for mixing in a garden bed. Since it is a hybrid I haven't tried to save seeds because I figure next year's crop won't resemble the parents so I've just bought a new seed pack every other year.
If you don't grow any sunflowers in your garden because you aren't aware of the different varieties available take a look through some seed catalogs or websites you may just find a perfect one for your garden.