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Rachel Darlington sows the seed of gardening with her small son.
Last Spring, on impulse, I bought the last packet of sunflower seeds on some forgotten shelf. I had the idea to involve my four-year-old in gardening and filter-through from gardening publications had made me aware that sunflowers were the ideal flower for that purpose. So last spring, among my reams of perennial trays, one little tray of annuals squeezed its way in.
We sowed the sunflower seeds in yoghurt containers with holes punctured in the bottom. Samuel carefully sowed three seeds in each container, spoke some encouraging words and hopped away to play while I got on with watering them.
Each morning after that unceremonious beginning, we peered vainly at our sunflowers. But they were very slow to sprout. Indeed, long after all my perennials were in need of potting on, the only sign of life from the yoghurt containers was the white fluff of some mould spores!
And then, one morning, one lone seed decided to make its break for life and poked its nose over the soil surface. The split-seed, perched on the head of our little seedling, seemed like a hat at a jaunty angle, and Samuel said he could just make out a cheeky grin! And that was how Sordibub burst into our lives.
Whether the name ‘Sordibub' was some kind of hybridization between the words sunflower and buddy, or just the name ascribed to this particular plant by my four-year-old, I cannot say. But Sordibub he was and Sordibub he remained. Sordibub quickly made up for lost time and was soon head-banging on the roof of my plastic greenhouse. About two foot in height, I brought him indoors and stood him on the kitchen windowsill. But there was inherent danger in the fact that only one seed had sprouted - Sordibub was more precious because he was one of a kind - but what if he died?
Indeed, not long after his placement in the kitchen, Sordibub started to look the worse for wear. Samuel tried talking extra nicely to him but I feared the worst. I even starting reconnoitring to see if I could find a similarly sized sunflower in one of the shops - just in case.
Whether the name ‘Sordibub' was some kind of hybridization between the words sunflower and buddy, or just the name ascribed to this particular plant by my four-year-old, I cannot say.
But all that was needed was for Sordibub to take his rightful place in the outside world. I confess more apprehension about the process than my four-year-old, who nonchalantly skipped outside with me, chatting to the plant on the way. We planted and staked Sordibub in a flower bed close to the house and kept an eye out for him.
Miraculously, Sordibub withstood the winds and the rain and then, one fine day, a great sunny flower opened up. The flower was nothing like the picture on the seed packet. But I was the only one who could remember that far back. Sordibub gave great joy all summer and then died.
This year I have bought three different packets of the freshest seed, from the most reputable provider. The seeds are large and striped like peppermint - very satisfying for little sticky hands to hold and poke into holes. The packets promised Titans, among others, and produced sixty odd seedlings within a few days of planting. I just hope these ‘sons of Sordibub' will bring as much joy to our garden as last year's brave and lone Sordibub did.