Vibrant butterflies and busy bees glided over rows of stunning sunflowers Thursday afternoon at The Sunflower Garden just off Md. 27 between Westminster and Manchester.
Gardener Dave Diggs has planted sunflowers on the property for roughly two decades, but the recent trend is for people to stop and take selfies with the flowers.
"Facebook has been really helpful because it spreads the word," Diggs said. "People really like to take selfies and schedule photo sessions, and it's helped increase my revenue. You can't beat a picture with a bunch of flowers in the background."
He charges $25 for a photo session and $12 for a bouquet from the pick-your-own garden.
"Half of the fun is just the picking part," Diggs said. "It's nice and relaxing if you take your time. I like to garden so it's really grown over time. Each year I've added a variety or two."
"He enjoys it and it makes for a busy spring and summer," added Diggs' wife, Tracey.
According to the online flower encyclopedia The Flower Expert, sunflowers make up the genus Helianthus. In Greek, helios means sun and anthos means flower. The genus, which contains about 67 species, is thought to be native to the Americas and were domesticated around 1,000 B.C.
The sunflower blossom is composed of yellow ray flowers and a central disk, according to The Flower Expert. The central disk is composed of either yellow, brown, or purple flowers, depending on the species. The flower is actually a head of numerous flowers crowded together. The outer flowers on the sunflower are called ray florets and can be yellow, maroon, orange or other colors. The flowers that fill the circular head inside the ray flowers are called disc florets.
Diggs planted three acres of flowers and vegetables this year. He also grows other flower varieties like zinnias, snapdragons, salvia and cockscomb to add to the bouquets.
"We save a lot of our seeds to plant," Diggs said. "This year we planted 10 varieties of sunflowers that come in at different times."
Diggs starts direct seeding after Mother's Day, aiming for the sunflowers to be ready in the second week of July "if Mother Nature cooperates."
"It's been a good year for sunflowers because we've had warm weather and lots of rain," Diggs said.
Customer Katherine Gorelick, of Manchester, described the garden as "a little piece of heaven in Carroll County."
"I just love it," Gorelick said. "He does a really good job of making you feel welcome. I go up once a week to make bouquets for friends, family and for my house."
Leah Seeling, of Hampstead, has visited the garden for her daughter's last three birthdays.
"It's become a tradition," Seeling said. "It's a neat opportunity for photo ops. I like that it's not a big corporation, it's a hometown local business."
Stephanie Rieger, of Taneytown, described the garden as "just a happy place."
"It's absolutely beautiful," Rieger said. "It's definitely something special. It's a good place to take photos of my children and they love to go there to catch butterflies. It's nice to go there and just forget about everything else."
If you go
What: The Sunflower Garden pick-your-own flower garden
Costs: $12 for a bouquet and $25 for a photo session.