"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Thursday, 28 August 2008

"Oh, I'm as happy as a big sunflower...


...that bends and nods in the breeze, Oh! That bends and nods in the breeze, oh!"

I first came across this cheery little song in one of the Little House on the Prairie books. Laura calls it Pa's "trouble song" because Pa sings it when he's worried about dying crops, cyclones, ravenous locusts, or any of the other nasty hardships those poor folks faced in the wilderness. Why someone would sing a happy ditty about sunflowers when they're facing dire circumstances is beyond me. But then again, I've never had to fend off hungry locusts.

I've never had much luck growing sunflowers in the city. They'd wither up or tip over or not bother to sprout at all. The chosen few plants that did make it to maturity were mercilessly decapitated by squirrels or crows, usually the day after I'd rapturously marvelled at the sunflower's bright, friendly face. But a happy accident occurred this spring on Someday Farm: a messy bird spilled a bunch of black oil sunflower seeds from the birdfeeder, and voila! 10 sturdy sunflowers took root, right beside our back door. No decapitations, no squirrels - just golden, joyful looking flowers that really do bend and nod in the breeze, oh!

As much as I've loved seeing them every morning as I come out the door, I've come to realize that while sunflowers in their prime are a thing of beauty, a sunflower slowly rotting on its stem is a true study in blechiness. Ah, but that is the essence of gardening, isn't it? Plants and flowers that were once so pretty and vibrant turn crispy and vile, seemingly overnight.

I thought that at least I'd harvest the seeds to repay the kind birds who'd helped me plant my sunflowers. You can imagine my yelp of disgust when I tried to pry them out and was met by an angry army of meal worms, ants and earwigs. Apparently I don't get to keep the sunflower seeds - the bugs have claimed unequivocal rights. Oh well. At least I haven't seen any locusts. Or cyclones. Yet.