Growing our own Sunflower, Tennessee, USA

Growing our own Sunflower, Tennessee, USA
It was something quite unexpected. Growing our own Sunflower in the garden in Tennessee. Every single day I would put a large glass of bird seed into the bird feeder and it had beautiful, shiny sunflower seeds for all the birds that came to feed at it.

Many common backyard birds enjoy eating sunflower seeds. In fact, the greatest variety of birds are attracted to black oil sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are preferable to birds because they provide the essential oils they need in the winter.

The flamboyant cardinals and grosbeaks, are characterized by their thick, conical-shaped bills, which are designed for cracking seeds. Cardinals are fond of sunflower seeds and the male cardinal is easily recognized by its bright red colour, black eye markings and prominent crest. The female is a dull brown color.

The Carolina chickadee too is frequently seen at the bird feeder, if the naughty squirrel allowed them to get any. But we noticed the large and noisy Blue Jay sweep the seed out of the bird feeder and scoop large helpings into its beak. That’s when the sunflower seed probably fell and germinated in the soil, under the feeder.

So while weeding under the feeder I came across a 2 inch tall, Sunflower plant growing happily in the soil. I was thrilled and pulled it out deciding to show it to Alaina and grow it till it flowered for her. She had been reading all about the flower but had no idea what it would look like in her garden. Most children have seen pictures of sunflowers but do not know much about the actual plant or seen one in their garden.

I put it down in the back yard along with her, into the ground and watered it like mad, every day, till it stabalised. I also gave it a lot of the waste milk and oats the kids would not finish and sometimes shrimp peels as well. I was going away in a few days and I needed for her to see the plant grow. So it needed all the TLC I could give it.

I had forgotten about the little plant because I left for the UK and got busy with that garden.The garden in London is massive and has curved beds all the way down the side filled with plants and weeds as well. The weeds by the time I had reached had become a tangled mess, in between the shrubs.

My fifteen days in the UK sped by and the little girl in the US had been away, holidaying in Portugal for two weeks as well. Then I get this almost ecstatic Face Time call from her, snatching the phone away from her Dad, my son. “ Grandma, grandma I want to tell you that the sunflower has bloomed.” Her words were racing and she had also recorded a video to show me the flower up close!

It was a perfect little organic flower, not the huge and outsize ones grown with fertilizer for the flower shops. This is a delicate little sunflower we grew as kids too in Shillong or New Delhi. Not like the ones we passed on the way to Goa all growing straight and tall.

“Gnama! Gnama! Says this excited little baby voice calling me on Face Time. Let me take the iPad out and show you something you are going to love. ” I can see her racing out the back door to the garden, my fav spot, expecting to see a tomato or a pepper and instead she shows me the beautiful little sunflower. My heart bursts with joy along with her -- me in India and she in Tennessee. Of all the gifts I brought for her, this is the very best. How simple are the joys of a child.

Not the gold locket in the shape of a pussy cat. She loved the expensive books I got her too, but her voice did not rise to a crescendo like this. The soft little doll from Bangkok, yes, it remains a favourite for a few weeks. All the gifts paled into insignificance.

But the Sunflower warranted a little video she made for me, falling over her words, expressing her joy with so much emotion. And then the nerd in her comes out, the little five year old nerd who reads encyclopedias like her Dad did for pleasure -- “ And Gnama! Did you know that sunflowers turn their faces towards the sun and mine has?” And we gaze together at this beauty of nature, with the magic of Face Time, the little flower, lifting it’s face up to the sun.

Oh! The joy of nature can be heard quivering in her little girl voice. Nature has come alive to her and I hope to sustain that like my father did with my son, so she is able to withstand the stresses and strains of daily living. This is a heartless world that she is growing in, and falling back on Mother Nature can help withstand it all.

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