You have probably heard about "colony collapse disorder" in bee populations around the world. A group is doing a study on bee populations around the country by enlisting people like you and me to plant sunflowers and take down some simple data on how long it takes five bees to visit the flower. I got my seed pack last week. Here's the link.
Even if you don't participate in the project, it's good for all of us to think about creating a little haven for healthy bees in our yards. Sunflowers are great. Here are some others: Anemone, Anchusa Azurea, Bee Balm, Blazing Star (Liatris), Blackberries, Blueberries, Fleabane (Erigeron), Dahlias, Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia), Geranium (Geranium sanguineum), Lavender (Lavandula), Mallow, Lavatera, Pincushion (Scabiosa), Purple Cornflower (Echinacea), Rhododenron (bumblebees only), Rose (Rosa).
I recommend planting sunflowers directly in the garden at the end of may or beginning of June in Spokane. The pheasant love to nip at them though so give them a little protection until they get 4 or 5 inches tall. And, if you're feeling ambitious, you can try to grow one with the largest head, the tallest, or with the most flowers, and enter it in the Spokane County Fair. It's a great way to get the kids involved in the garden. It's also time to start thinking about growing that Giant Pumpkin. More on that later.