Cordele-- A Crisp County man believes in making his world a much more beautiful place for himself and hundreds of other people. And, he does with little effort, by the side of a popular road just north of Cordele.
Often we live in the fast lane, going so fast that we don’t have time to stop and see the flowers, much less stop and smell them. But Tommy Hughes always finds time. “I plant them up by the road for the beauty of them and just to give them to folks,” says Hughes as he walks through hundreds of pretty flowers.
Folks like Betty Cape stopped by to get some for an arrangement, as she puts several tall sunflowers in the trunk of her car. “I just think they are pretty,” says Cape just before closing her car’s trunk.
He doesn’t sell the flowers, but gladly gives them to anyone who asks. He’ll even cut them for people. The sunflowers attract a lot of people who see them from the road and want to know more about them.
Hughes remembers one person who stopped by. “Insurance adjuster from Brooks County said he had never seen sunflowers on a stalk,” says Hughes who wondered if the adjuster dealt with crop insurance.
He plants about a half acre of sunflowers right by highway 257 north, a little field where he always plants them every year since 1996 on Mother’s Day weekend. Tommy has almost nothing invested in his sunflower patch because the seeds were dirt-cheap. “I probably get $500 worth of enjoyment out of six dollars worth of seed,” says Hughes.
Not a bad investment, certainly a better return than the stock market gives. “I still got my sunflowers, but you don’t know where the stock market is going.”
He makes a good point. He plants sunflower seeds destined for bird feeders, and they grow quite well. “I do it for the enjoyment in it, and there’s no work.” The sunflowers don’t stay in one place, but move. “In the morning time out there they are headed to the east. In the evening time will be headed to the west, following the sun,” says Hughes.
So, the old saying about sunflowers following the path of the sun has some truth in it. “They are in this field.” The big sunflowers have hundred of seeds behind the pretty yellow blooms, easily revealed by Tommy rubbing his thumb over the flower’s face.
He plans to see more people pull off Highway 257 to take a few minutes to stop and see his flowers. Besides the half-acre field, the Crisp County sunflower lover has 12 more acres growing behind his house where he plans to hunt doves that will fly in and feast on the black seeds.
Most of the sunflowers have gone to seed, their heads drooping from so much rain and reaching maturity.
Tommy Hughes plans to grow more, same time, same place for the same beautiful reasons.