by Dr. Dave Bradshaw, Professor, Department of Horticulture, Clemson University
We're here at the Fran Hansen Discovery Center in the South Carolina Botanical Garden and I like to stand back and get the bigger view sometimes, so look across the valley there and see the Hansen Center perched on top of the hill. But I want to focus on all that yellow there in the midst of one of our nature-based sculptures. The sculpture itself is named the "Dedication of the Sunflower" so we chose a special little plant, the African zinnia, to take these harsh, dry, hot conditions and make a splash of color representative of the petals of the sunflower. So let's go down and take a closer look at this special little plant. We've come here to the "Dedication of the Sunflower" nature-based sculpture to take a close look at the little African zinnia, Zinnia linearis. Now, this is a little-used plant, certainly not used as often as the plant would merit, but this whole mound, minus this little bit of crabgrass, is one zinnia plant. They don't do well at garden centers and nurseries in the cell packs because when you buy a cell pack that's about all you'll find and that's a very vigorous one in a little cell pack and it probably doesn't even have this flower on it and it's often weeping and stringy. So people walk along and see a 6-pack of these little plants and don't even give it a second view, but I'm just telling you before the summers out you'll have a great mound of yellow flowers that'll bloom all summer and they'll bloom right on until the frost. But give those little stringy plants a chance and they will make a magnificent color as shown here in the South Carolina Botanical Garden.
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