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)