21 September 2010


Sunflowers now growing ragged in our garden
Back in April, I bought a 35p packet of sunflower seeds from Lidl. Having never attempted to grow sunflowers before, it would be another experience I could tick off on my "Things to do before I die" list. Forget driving a Ferrari, swimming with dolphins or bungy-jumping from the Kawaru Bridge in New Zealand. My list includes such items as - carving a wooden bowl, reading the Koran, making a homemade rice pudding and returning to Spurn Point - the teardrop end of Yorkshire.

Anyway, I sowed the sunflower seeds in little pots. Five survived, poking their heads towards the window and just begging to be planted out. I prepared a little plot in a sheltered gap near our great hydrangea bush and like a good father pressed my little plants into the soil. In dry times I watered them. Sometimes I fed them liquid fertiliser and as they grew, I protected them with little stakes. Gusting winds did their best to snap the little sunflowers so I replaced the stakes till each plant ended up with a six foot bamboo stake.

I am six feet tall myself and each one of the sunflowers has grown taller than me but there is one which has grown to over eleven feet, having reached up much higher than its protective stake. I named it Lofty. It took a long time for the flower heads to emerge. At first they were quite small, as if this particular variety of sunflower could only produce small flowers but gradually they expanded. The flowers are all a bit ragged now - past their best and it's hard to show Lofty's tallness in a photograph. Relatedly, did you know that the film actor Mel Gibson is only 5'9"? Squirt!
Below "Les Tournesols", near Pamiers in southern France (2005)


  1. Don Estelle was also called Lofty and he was only four foot nine. Another Mancunian prone to exaggeration.

  2. Squirt is the name of a lemon-lime carbonated drink in the U.S., a sort of 7-Up ripoff, and Lofty is a word found only in the fourth verse of the Christian hymn "Sweet Hour of Prayer":

    "...till, from Mount Pisgah's lofty height..."

    I thought you would want to know.

  3. SHOOTING GROUSE Are you saying that Mel Gibson is a Mancunian?
    RHYMES WITH RAGE Doh? can't see the connection between "Squirt" and "lofty".
    But I thought you might like this biblical quotation in which you get a mention...
    “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.”

  4. The connection between "squirt" and "lofty" is that you used both words in the final paragraph of your post. the tall sunflower is lofty and Mel Gibson is a squirt at 5'9"...don't you read your own posts?

  5. I like the forced connection between you and Mel... There are other parameters, y'know...

    Having said that; quite tall, aren't you? Don't worry, you'll shrink as you get old.

  6. Is this National Smartass Day? Another holiday that would have slipped by me, were it not for the internet.

  7. Woah! Van Gogh would have loved you! But what's with asking Carolina for a massage, all the way from Holland?! Time was, I could have obliged much nearer to home, as I had a massage table, complete with a hole for the face to fit in... I eventually gave it to somebody who had started a college course on massage, but I have since regretted my generosity, I must admit...

    1.RHYMES WITH Nope. I never read my own posts.
    2.KATHERINE Smart for spotting it - Kawaru Bridge I mean. Wonder what these other "parameters" are.
    3.JAN BLAWAT The smartass inventor of National Smartass Day.
    4.JINKSY Shhh! Telling everyone about my massage request! Without your massage table surely we can compromise? A bed perhaps?

  9. Elizabeth12:11 am

    “The gaudy leonine sunflower
    Hangs black and barren on its stalk,
    And down the windy garden walk
    The dead leaves scatter,- hour by hour”

    - Oscar Wilde. xx

  10. Not too far west of where I live is an agricultural area known as the Darling Downs where they grow this pretty crop. I love the way the flower holds its face towards the sun and follows the sun across the sky.


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