"Every year is a good year for sunflowers," said Jon Traunfeld of the University of Maryland extension service, and he was laughing.
He was responding to a question I posed from Garden Variety readers. Several, including Linda Nelson, daughter of Colt great and barbecue purveyor Andy Nelson, wrote to say their sunflowers seemed especially tall this year and the seed heads especially heavy.
"As long as they get the heat they want and the moisture they want, they are happy," Traunfeld said.
Sunflowers are native to the high plains states, where it is hot and dry. They are used to drought conditions. When you get a rainy summer, as we have had here in part of the Mid-Atlantic, sunflowers go crazy.
Even in Hampden, where Laura Durington says her sunflower seem to grow inches every time she looked away.
While Linda Nelson used her father as a measuring stick, Laura used the 6-foot fence in her yard. She thinks her flower is more than 15 feet tall.
She can thank the rain, not the rat poop, which was one of her theories about why a sunflower grew so large in the city.
"It is a big plant and it needs lots of moisture," said Traunfeld. "But their production can really increase with good rainfall."
Photos courtesy of Matt Durington and Linda Nelson