DEARBORN, Mich. – The sunflowers surrounding Ford World Headquarters make for a spectacular and welcoming sight.
While the flowers do draw attention each year, some employees might not know when or why they came to be. Laurel Blackwell, a superintendent of Fairlane Grounds, gave us the lowdown on one of the best parts of early fall.
Ford started planting the flowers in 2002 to reduce maintenance costs and to provide wildlife habitat. Nearly 100 acres of sunflowers were planted on four different parcels in the beginning. This year, there’s about 25 acres of flowers. A swath of about 20 acres is at Michigan and Mercury Drive, while about 5 acres are incorporated at the north entrance to WHQ from Hubbard Drive. The planting has been consistent, although the fields sometimes change due to crop rotation or field maintenance.
“Sunflowers aren’t something you expect to see in an urban setting. It’s catching everyone’s attention,” a Ford Motor Land Development Corp. spokeswoman told the Detroit Free Press in 2003.
The sunflowers you see are standard black oilers, a typical bird feeder variety.
Crews plant the seeds in late June or early July so the flowers can provide seeds for migrating birds in the fall.
“Of course, it’s not just birds that benefit from the sunflowers,” Blackwell said. “The fields are full of bees and butterflies, as well as small mammals such as fox, coyote (maybe not so small) and squirrels.”
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