Enquirer Herald

A burst of the sun in McConnells

Louis Jones promised his 2-year-old daughter, Lauren, flowers.

And on a recent sunny morning, he made sure she got them - at least 20 acres of them.

The Jones family visited Draper Wildlife Management Area on Brattonsville Road near McConnells, where a massive field of sunflowers sits hidden off the beaten path. The brightly colored flowers are only in bloom for the next couple of weeks.

Anyone can stop by Draper to view and walk among the sunflower fields while they last. Admission is free.

Cherie Jones said they once planted a sunflower in their garden at home.

"It became taller than" Lauren, she said. "Since then, she's loved them. We wanted to make sure she saw the sunflowers."

The best times to view the sunflowers will be this week and the next, said state Department of Natural Resources biologist Jeff Witt.

Witt recommends visiting the sunflowers between 9 a.m. and noon when it's not as hot and the flowers are less droopy.

"It's beautiful," he said.

Generally, sunflower season depends on how early seeds are planted, he said. Draper Wildlife officials planted the seeds in April in the area's dove fields.

"They take a good while to bloom," Witt said.

By September, they're hoping the seeds will be attractive to the doves.

The York County legislative delegation helped buy the 800-acre Draper wildlife property from the R.F. Draper estate in the mid-1990s. The area also features 10 miles of trails and two stocked fishing ponds.

Draper Wildlife is open to the public from dawn until dusk.

To get there from Rock Hill, take S.C. 322 (McConnells Highway) for about 10 miles. Take the turn on the left for Historic Brattonsville. The Draper property is on the right. Drive down the road, keeping to the right. The sunflower fields are on the left of the parking lot.