Hello again!
Looking at our selection of seeds in the store earlier in the week I was impressed by the almost 20 types of sunflowers we offer. That then got me to thinking ‘When is Kansas Day?’ I knew it was in January, so I did a quick internet search… ‘Ope!’ It’s the 29th! This search led me down a rabbit trail to see our official state symbols.
State Tree - Eastern cottonwood - Populus deltoides. While this may not be the best landscape tree for urban landscapes, the tree has played an important part of our state's history. Growing up to 100’ tall in wet locations, the eastern cottonwood produces large quantities of lumber. Several species of butterfly feed on the tender foliage. I’m sure you’ve seen the decades-old cottonwood on K-96 on the way to Hutchinson. The 'Lucky Tree', 'Wishing Tree', 'Honking Tree', and just 'that old tree on K96', it has many different names. People honk as they pass it going either direction on the highway for good luck, and if you have a chance to pull over far enough and meet it up close, you'll find ribbons from lost loved ones, memorials, and one strong tree that has withstood the test of time.

State Bird - Western meadowlark or Sturnella neglecta is a familiar songbird of open country across the western two-thirds of the continent. In the same family as blackbirds and orioles, adults have a black and white striped head; long, pointed bill; yellow cheeks; bright yellow throat; and a distinctive black "V" on breast. The western meadowlark is often seen perched on fence-posts in grasslands and agricultural areas. 
State Animal - The magnificent American buffalo Bison bison was recognized as the official animal symbol of Kansas in 1955, and in 2016, was designated as our national mammal. Native Americans pursue a herd of buffalo on the Kansas state flag and seal, and a buffalo is featured on the U.S. Mint's bicentennial commemorative Kansas quarter
State Flower - Wild native sunflower Helianthus annuus was designated the official state flower and floral emblem in 1903. The sunflower is also featured on the Kansas quarter, state flag, and even in the nickname for Kansas, "The Sunflower State."
State Insect -The honeybee (apis mellifera) was designated as official state insect in 1976, in response to a petition signed by over 2000 Kansas schoolchildren to make the honeybee the state insect. A quote from Kansas House Bill 2236; "... The honeybee is like all Kansans in that it is proud; only fights in defense of something it cherishes; is a friendly bundle of energy; is always helping others throughout its lifetime; is a strong, hard worker with limitless abilities; and is a mirror of virtue, triumph, and glory.”
Kansas has its fair share of famous personalities, sports figures, celebrities, and locations (Largest Ball of Twine, anyone?) Hopefully this weekend we’ll have a Super Bowl Champion with our name on it, too!!

Your friend in the garden,
Marty
Owner - Johnson's Garden Centers