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Missing: One Sunflower
by Eleanor Tylbor
by Eleanor Tylbor


Eleanor Tylbor has been a freelance writer and columnist for more than twenty years. A resident of Laval, Quebec, Canada, she began her career as a columnist writing for weekly papers and continues to freelance a column covering local news for “The Chomedy News.”

She has also freelanced articles for Internet sites in addition to providing human-interest pieces for various dailies, and is a monthly contributor to the site, sharing her humorous observations and gardening-angst with gardening aficionados.

She is now into balcony gardening.

Blog The (Somewhat) Complete Gardener

September 22, 2002

Once again, I'm mourning the passing of yet another garden companion. This one hit me particular hard because its arrival was totally unexpected and its sudden departure took me entirely by surprise. As difficult as this is to even write - I get choked up thinking about it - my beautiful, miniature sunflower has disappeared. To the best of my knowledge the guilty party absconded with the bloom in the middle of the night, under the light of a full moon. The only momento of what could have/would have/and should have been, is a broken and weather- withered stem lying in the exact position as it was discovered, where a sunflower once thrived. As is my practice I allowed myself to become emotionally attached to a favored plant, with heartrending results.

It was towards the end of July that the flower appeared seemingly over night, laying down roots in a dahlia bed. Over the next few weeks it grew by leaps and bounds producing tight green petals that slowly changed to a lemon yellow, and finally metamorphosed into a sunflower, although I didn't know it by name at the time. By horticultural standards the plant was like any other, maybe a touch on the smallish side, making it all the more appealing. Neighbors walking by always noted its presence, which should have told me something.

Vanity thy name is Eleanor!

Towards the end of its blooming period I still hadn't identified the specie. A little research in some of my gardening books would probably have solved the mystery, but when does logic enter into the picture where our gardens are concerned? It was so much more exciting imagining that this was a new genus, never before seen in nature. My next door neighbor, Kathleen, put an end to the speculation of its lineage one sunny August morning, during a discussion over the garden fence.

"What you got there is a sunflower," she commented, matter-of-factly. "A miniature one but a sunflower, none-the-less."

She went on to point out that she kept an ample supply of sunflower seeds on hand during the winter, to feed the various bird species. One of the birds, she hypothesized, must have dropped the seed in my garden while doing a fly over. Her theory that it was a common, everyday, run-of-the-mill, re easy to grow plant was difficult to accept initially, but it definitely had some validity. Still, its petite stature made it a very appealing plant, especially when Kathleen mentioned in passing that they are favored among plant fanciers.

"It probably sells for close to ten bucks," Kathleen estimated, but I had the makings of many more, at no personal cost!

Meanwhile, there were plans to sow the seeds in the autumn in a newly planned bed, against the garden fence.

Oh the best laid plans of mice and men...

At the point where the sunflower pods were filled to overflowing with black seeds, tragedy struck. One night the sunflower was there - and the next it was no more. A close examination of the stalk indicated the top had been crudely ripped away, and everyone was and still is a suspect. My feeling is that it might have been an act perpetrated by a party or parties who covet sunflowers, or possibly Ms Know-It-All-Neighbor who makes a point of pointing out the flaws of various gardens, telling anyone within an ear shot that only she can grow the best varieties in our neighborhood. And thinking back she did examine the plant from all angles, for an unusually long period of time... Since there is no proof and fingerprints are non-existent, one can only speculate as to the real culprit. I mean - who else would steal seeds? Birds? Squirrels? Neh!

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