Monday, September 20, 2021

Sunny Sunflower Day

When I first returned to Oregon after being away for nearly 2 months, I couldn't wait to return to all the favorite places I'd missed.  However, I didn't limit myself to just the familiar haunts - I also discovered some new sites to visit.

Hello sunshine!

One such place was the sunflower field at nearby West Union Gardens.  I'd never been there before, but my neighbor and photo-mentor Cherri had visited a couple weeks prior.  Impressed by her photos of the sunny yellow blooms I just knew this was someplace I had to see for myself.

Glorious yellow blooms

West Union Gardens is a U-pick farm just west of Portland.  I'd been there in prior years to pick berries, but didn't realize they grew flowers too.  I discovered the garden property included a huge sunflower field that appeared to have been grown exclusively for the photo opportunities.

Photo subjects abounded!

Unlike other flower farms I'd visited, West Union Gardens only charged a nominal fee to photographers for the privilege of photographing their sunflowers.  A half day pass even allowed for sunrise or sunset access.  Of course I chose an early weekday morning for my sunflower experience. 

Someone etched a face in one of the flowers

Well, I didn't quite make sunrise.  As a matter of fact, it was well past 7 o'clock when I finally pulled into West Union Garden's driveway.  But despite missing sunrise, I was still the only person at the sunflower field that morning.

Seed heads starting to droop

The sunflower field was huge!  Rows upon rows of the sunny flowers towered overhead, the area a sea of yellow faces.

Fat bird eating the seeds

Peak bloom had already come and gone, but most of the sunflowers appeared to still be in good shape.  A few droopy blooms were randomly scattered throughout, but they were easy enough to exclude from most of my frames.

Yellow bird getting a snack

The farm management had cut pathways through the huge sunflower field, giving visitors an up-close look at the blooms.  It felt kind of like a corn maze at Halloween, except you were surrounded by sunflowers instead.

Iconic view of the field and an old barn

At one end of the field sat a weathered wooden barn, the perfect compliment to a wide-angle shot of the sunflowers.  I may have shot several dozen images of this scene.....

Happy bunch

Enjoy the next few photos of these bright, cheery flowers!

Extra large seed head

One more shot of that barn

Backlit bloom

I really liked the photos in the shade

After an hour I began to notice huge flocks of birds descending upon the field.  The bids perched themselves on the sunflower heads, pecking away at the seeds.  These feathered friends knew a free meal when they saw one!

Birdie convention

Thinking I'd just be photographing flowers, I hadn't thought to bring my long zoom lens.  So I was stuck trying to capture the birds with my 70-200 lens.

Another bird in the flowers

It wasn't easy!  Those birds did not let me get very close.  Once and awhile I was able to sneak up and catch one of them mid-snack.

Backlit sunnies

I discovered sunflower heads also look cool when you photograph them facing the sun.

Tall flower

After about 2 hours of wandering through the field, I was hot and tired.  About then, other customers finally began arriving.  Having had the place to myself the entire time, I decided I didn't want to share and took this as my cue to leave.

And a zinnia for variety

Before leaving, I decided to check out their farmstand store.  Next to the store was another huge flower field, full of several different floral varieties.  A U-pick bouquet was only eight dollars.  I couldn't resist!  So I spent another happy half hour roaming the different rows, picking out a bit of color for my dining room table. 

Smile, it's a sunny day!

A great way to start a day!  Roaming this lovely sunflower field put me in such a good mood.  I think every morning should begin like this.

West Union Gardens website for my local readers:


  1. Wow I'd love to see a sunflower field, great photos, Fav's are the seventh & last photo

  2. Wonderful fields of sunflowers to brighten the day. The photos are so beautiful, I especially loved the ones of the birds in the sunflowers.

  3. How fun! Sunflowers always bring a smile!

  4. I never knew there was such a place! So cool!

  5. Great pictures! It's harder than you'd think - I've tried.

  6. Gorgeous flowers. Sunflowers have a way of bringing a smile.

  7. What a way to start the day. They are such cheerful flowers.

  8. Wow, gorgeous collection of photos. I love sunflowers, they are a cheery sight to see!
    Take care, have a great day!

  9. Sheer bliss would have shone from your face all morning.
    In thhe photo 'another of the barn', it wasn't the barn I looked at, but the cheeky sunflower popping its head above the others.

  10. So much colour and cheer in your photos! I'm sure you must have been smiling wide the entire time! I could almost see smiles in some of the faces of the sunflowers.

  11. How wonderful and cheerful those sunflowers look. You got great pictures of them. I loved the (backlit) ones a lot.

  12. I love sunflowers! They are such "happy" flowers! I tried growing them this year but the deer ate all but one. It grew to over 10 feet and I saved the head to put out for the birds...and squirrels... in winter

  13. Now that is a perfect sunflower field!! What fun for you!

  14. Wow! I especially love the back view one with the sun shining through the petals. I bet you had a smile on your face the whole time!


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