Of all the sunflowers that I planted last year, the one that flourished most was a surprise to me. I transplanted a handful of seedlings to the yard. They grew and grew. They also became tasty treats for grasshoppers as evidenced by the holes left behind in the leaves. One day, I noticed one plant’s stem was sawed in half. It was hanging on by a thread.
“What did this?” I wondered and felt sad for the little plant.
My neighbour suggested it might have been a cutworm. I didn’t have the heart to pluck it out of the ground. So I left it.
Gradually, the plant formed a scar at the cut and the stem became thicker there. The stem formed a right angle and continued to grow up. The stem became thicker than the other sunflowers that grew tall but were thin and flimsy.
The plant eventually recovered and produced more flowers than any of the others. The cut, the scar, the regrowth and regeneration of the plant actually seemed to make it hardier and more resilient than the others. What a lesson!
This year, it was the same routine. I transplanted seedlings to the yard outside my window. There was another plant already starting to grow out there. At first I thought it was a weed but suspected it could be a sunflower so I left it. And indeed, to my delight, it was a sunflower! Now this sunflower that planted itself from last year’s seeds is doing brilliantly. It exceeds the others in height and number of blossoms. Nature has produced something more amazing than I could have planned or prepared myself.
I don’t consider myself a serious gardener. I put seeds or roots in pots and see what I can nurture into life. This is what the garden teaches me: to be humble, to be open to surprise, to respect the land. It is always an experiment full of surprises and lessons.