I am, I have to tell you, devastated.
Not, however, as devastated as the four giant sunflowers which were growing, tall and
proud, in my back garden until they were cruelly felled by the recent gale-force winds ripping through them. Life has been cruel for my Awesome Foursome.
readers will be aware (unless they have forgotten, which wouldn’t be all that surprising and is, of course, perfectly understandable and forgivable) that for many years I have grown sunflowers from seed with quite remarkable success - though I say so
myself, as shouldn’t. In the early years, it was all about the Annual Sunflower Competition between Mr B and me - I would plant out the four strongest-looking specimens from my seedlings in two extremely large pots and tend them carefully, chatting to
them encouragingly (as you do) and watching out for which would be the first to flower, which the tallest and which would boast the largest actual flower. Despite the fact that I was the one who showered them with love and water, it was invariably Mr B’s
flowers which carried off the honours. There was no prize, of course, no trophy, no winnings - just the pride of knowing that one’s sunflower had proved to be Above The Rest. Not that I ever got to appreciate the heady heights of victory in the Annual
After a while, I started to plant out a Wall of Sunflowers, in addition to the competition plants, naming each sunflower after one
of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren. Some years it was a bit of a straggly wall but it was great when each flower bloomed to inform the grandchild concerned and send them a photo of “their” flower. To be fair, not all of the Tremendous Ten were
as excited as I was and, of those who displayed excitement, I suspect they were putting it on for my benefit.
Last year, during the first Lockdown and its
aftermath, I started putting spare plants out on my garden wall and inviting passers-by to help themselves to some sunshine. So popular were my initial offerings, that the Lovely Kay, who helps me keep my house in order, brought me lots more seeds which she
had painstakingly sifted from her bird seed. This is True Friendship. I calculated that, in all, I gave away over 150 plants which (I hope) must have brightened up many a garden in my home town that summer. Sadly I couldn’t continue the practice this
year due to (i) a significant compost shortage; and (ii) the fact that I had given away all my plant pots.
This year was always going to be different. For starters,
I had to find a new home for the Annual Competition Sunflowers on account of the construction of the Room Outdoors. The pots containing them had to be carefully carried to a new site half-way down the garden where they have been sulking ever since. They are
still growing, which has to be good, but they are definitely not flourishing as they have done every year in their sheltered spot against the garage wall. This may be because, being half way down the garden, they are missing my usual cheery Good Morning every
Alternatively, they may have been sulking because of jealousy that the Tremendous Ten’s sunflowers were planted out in a brand new flower bed,
against the garden fence, where they have grown. Exponentially. (I have been trying to introduce that word into the Daily Blog for some time, ever since it started to take over from that other over-used word, “unprecedented” in the Downing Street
Everyone was amazed at them. One of the District Nurses, on the weekly visit to care for Mr B’s legs, asked if she could take a photograph of
them to show her children who were also growing sunflowers from seed. I was SO proud. I only just resisted asking if she would like my autograph…
comes before a fall, they say. How very true. Returning home after a splendid long weekend with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters - I have many stories to tell you in future blogs - I found two of my sunflowers snapped off and wilting sadly on the lawn.
Despite rescuing them and hauling them into a tub of water, it was too late to save them. I cannot disclose which of the Tremendous Ten’s sunflowers had been so cut off in their prime because I don’t want to traumatise them (the grandchildren,
obviously - the poor sunflowers are already suffering big-time.)
A few days later, after another night of raging winds - two more sunflowers bit the dust.
Or, more accurately, the grass. I am only slightly comforted by the fact that two of the remaining plants have burst into glorious flower and that a couple of stray plants have lodged themselves, inappropriately, in the vegetable trough where they are out-growing
both tomatoes and potatoes.
Even in my sorrow, I realise that there's nobody to blame for the devastation but the Forces of Nature.
Quite simply, my beautiful sunflowers just grew too big for their roots…