Last month when I walked over to see the sunflower patch, the majority were only knee high and still had a long way to go, except for a handful that had broken ranks and shot up to be in full bloom.
Today it was a very different sight that awaited me as I returned to see how the sunflowers were coming along. All of them are standing up proud at over 5ft as their heavy heads stand above me pointing in the direction of the sun.
All is quiet apart from the sound of donkeys braying in the fields behind and the buzz of foraging bees busy gathering the nectar that these sunflowers are providing to take back to their hives. You can get up close and watch the bees reaching inside probing for the nectar which is then stored in a honey sac, a second stomach, until they return to their hives.
Look closer and you can see bees covered in pollen. Here's an interesting fact... bees produce static electricity and attract pollen to their bodies and fur which helps them carry the pollen from one plant to another to help pollinate flowers and plants. In fact, bees can detect flowers based on the nature of their electric charge and can use as a detection sensor and navigation tool.
As an animal lover and someone who cares for the environment, it's wonderful to stand in this sunflower patch and marvel at the wildlife that is helping to support the lives of so many creatures that call The Donkey Sanctuary their home as well as our long-eared residents.
Later in the year, these sunflowers will also provide a good source of food for the seed-eating birds that also live in harmony with our donkeys.
If you’re visiting over the coming weeks, why not take a walk over to see this stunning display of colour and wildlife attraction. Pick up a Walker’s Guide from the Visitors’ Centre and follow the walk around Dunscombe Field (page 19) and follow the public footpath through towards the line of willow beds which we use to disperse collected water from our donkey yards. Dunscombe Field is rarely used for donkeys, yet it plays a vital role at the Sanctuary as it is used as a source of hay to feed the donkeys.