The sunflowers in the backyard are blooming! They are such happy flowers, with their round faces that almost seem to smile. And I am so amazed that I actually managed to grow them.
Sunflowers are easy to grow, of course. They have big, fat seeds that will sprout just about anywhere. This spring I seeded an entire flat of them, with several different varieties. Some were short, to be added to the vegetable garden. Some were multi-stemmed so that the bloooms would last longer. Some were the enormous variety–King Kong–said to grow more than 12 feet high.
They began to sprout. Hallaujah! Their little green heads were encouraging and the kids were excited. It also meant that my strategey of sowing them indoors was successful–the seeds didn’t get eaten by the birds (that’s what happened last year). When most of them had germinated, I moved them onto the back deck so that they could get more sunlight. They would be ready to transplant quickly.
The next day, just as I was going out onto the back deck to water my little seedlings, I caught sight of a black squirrel scrambling down off the table where my seedlings were perched. Squirrels are not unheard of around here, and I sometimes see them scamper along the back fence. Seeing them that close to the house, however, is odd. As is turned out, it was odd in a bad way: when I went over and looked I discovered that the little rascal had eaten every single sunflower!
After a few choice words in the squirrel’s direction, I sighed and resolved to start again. I bought more seeds–I even found the King Kong variety–and planted them up again, another whole flat. This time, I guarded them closely. When they needed to be set outside during the day, I actually babysat them, staying nearby in case of an expected squirrel attack (I can’t believe I did that). Once they had germinated and grown true leaves, I rejoiced. We made it!
I carefully planted every single flower in the garden. Some were in the front vegetable beds, some at the side of the house, some at the back near the clothesline pole. I also planted a large number in the new daylily garden along the fence. I thought it would add some nice colour to a border that won’t bloom until next year. I watered them all in. Whew.
Alas, when a week or two later I went out to closely examine their progress, I was crestfallen. Almost all of the little shoots had been nibbled off just above the ground. Someone had eaten every leaf–and I had a sneaking suspicion who that might be. Stupid squirrel.
The good news is, a few hardy seedlings survived the attack (my theory is that they were bigger than the others and didn’t taste as fresh and tender). This morning as I looked out into the garden I saw them: big, bright yellow blooms! They are the King Kong sunflowers and although I haven’t measured them, I would say they are well over ten feet tall. I love them.
I only have one complaint: they don’t face the house. The blooms face away from the house, and instead look over the fence and out onto the street. They have their backs turned to me so it’s impossible to see them in all their golden glory. I know that it’s because their blooms follow the course of the sun, but still…
Then again, those blooms are probably a nice gift for the people who are outside my yard. Drivers going by in their cars can see them. Kids walking to the park can see them. There are even a few houses on the street that will be able to see them if they look out their window.
And maybe that is enough. Maybe it is enough to grow something beautiful just to have others enjoy it. Maybe it’s not only the beauty of the flower that matters but the warm feeling inside that comes from sharing something nice with my neighbourhood. Yes, I think to myself, maybe that is enough.