Last autumn I cut down the giant sunflowers that had grown in the garden. They were definitely past their best by this point. The petals had wilted away and the seeds were ready for harvesting, so down they came. I chopped off the heads to dry out the seeds and trimmed the leaves off the stalks. Then I left them in the shed over winter.
By late spring it was warm enough to hang our washing outside again. This is one of my guilty pleasures. Not so much doing the washing or even hanging it on the line, but the fact that I don't have to see wet washing drying on every radiator in every room of the house. Something that comes hand in hand with winter over here.
However we needed a new pole to lift and support the washing line and I knew that one of the dried sunflower stalks in the shed would do the trick nicely. I actually ended up using the very one in the photo above as it was the strongest looking.
Once the stalks dry out they become very hard, (no sniggering at the back please) and depending on the size, they can take on the strength of small tree branches. The fact that they are so straight make them perfect for all kinds of things. I've used smaller dried stems to stake beans, peas and even other sunflowers in the garden.
So there you have it. If you grow sunflowers and have the space to dry them out, I would definitely recommend giving it a go.