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Giant sunflowers bring neighbors together
Turlocker finds passion in backyard gardening
sunflower pic
Susanne Bolin checks on one of the 14-foot sunflowers that grows in her backyard garden. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

What started as a tiny seed has flourished into a 14-foot towering sunflower that has become the pride of Susanne Bolin’s backyard garden.

“My daughter’s boyfriend gave me the seeds for Christmas,” said Bolin. “When I planted the seeds back in March I knew they had a reputation of growing tall; but when the month of May hit and I saw its size, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

The mammoth sunflowers that adorn Bolin’s backyard have attracted all kinds of people into her garden.

“I’ve had neighbors that I don’t even know come over to my house just to see my sunflowers,” said Bolin. “It seems to give people joy. If my sunflowers give others happiness and joy, I will grow them all year round.”

Sunflowers aren’t the only thing taking off in her backyard. Bolin discovered her green thumb when she moved to California with her family in 2011.

“It’s a wonderful blessing discovering this hidden passion,” said Bolin “I didn’t realize I enjoyed gardening until I moved to the area. I used to live in Nevada County with my family and the seasons get cooler sooner and the grounds are harder. It’s difficult to maintain a garden in those conditions. Once I moved to California, I began my small garden. Before I knew it, I was growing tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, green peppers, broccoli, corn, watermelon and chilies. It’s outrageous how much I’ve grown and how many people I’ve fed through my small garden.”

Although her backyard is only a quarter acre long, Bolin grows dozens of fresh fruits and vegetables and even has her own lemon, orange, fig, nectarine, mandarin, plum and peach trees.

“To have this much activity going on in my tiny backyard is outrageous,” said Bolin. “I want to grow more produce though. This year I want to grow some lettuce.”

For now, Bolin continues to maintain her garden and is getting ready to harvest her sunflowers.

“I keep learning more about nature and its fruits every day,” said Bolin. “I love putting my seeds into the ground and watching them blossom.”