Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Hope Springs Eternal Bamboo and Sunflower Farm

We have some friends who own a florist's shop on Memorial (The Family Flower Shoppe, if you're in Tampa and want to send Dad some baby's breath and tulips on Father's Day -- well tulips might not be in season, so you might want to stick with a more masculine flower like some pretty pink gerber daisies) and we found out that their son Jayson (who graduated from high school last night -- collective "whew!") was planting sunflowers in a little garden by their house for his mom to use in her shop.  Apparently one sunflower fetches $1 in the florist business.

Well, I love sunflowers -- any flowers really, so after discussing it with Flamingo Joe (by not actually saying anything to him about it at all), I told Jayson's parents that if Jayson wanted to plant sunflowers at our house and get more bang for his buck, he was welcome to.  [Now that I'm recalling how this happened, I am not altogether certain if that's how the conversation went -- it's completely possible that Joe offered our house for sunflower growing without discussing it with me but when I asked him just now if he remembered how it all went down, he got that look on his face that means he's not sure where I'm going with this and said, "Whatever."  So my version sticks.]

Pardon this short digression, but in addition to the many convoluted and possibly untruthful paths the above paragraph takes, I rashly declared a love for "any flowers." Not altogether true.  Several weeks ago Casey helped me pick out some flowers for some flower boxes on our porch and he chose these:

For some reason, these flowers make me think of sea monkeys, which doesn't really make sense because I don't think they look like sea monkeys, but they look like something else from the same era that you could grow underwater.  Does anyone remember what that was called?  

The real problem with those flowers is that they end up looking like this:

Or worse . . . this:

Ick.  As I recall, that's what always happened to the sea monkeys, too.

But back to my story.  Jayson and his dad, Jamie, liked the idea of growing sunflowers out here and promptly ordered sunflower seeds.  While waiting for the sunflowers to come in, Flamingo Joe and Jamie prepared the plot:

"Preparing the plot" meant Flamingo Joe dug soil up from one area of our property and moved it to another area with the tractor.  No one bothered to remove the weeds and grass (I use the term loosely) from underneath the area where the new garden was going, so weeding the area is going to be a problem that I will gladly allow Jayson to handle.

If you are familiar with our little piece of land, you will recall that there was once an oak tree here:

That oak tree died, so Flamingo Joe decided to cut it down a couple of weeks ago.  At the same time, though, he needed to cut down a smaller oak across the driveway.

This is where the smaller oak was:

And this is where it ended up after Flamingo Joe went after it with his chainsaw:

It suspended itself in the dead tree and refused to come down.

Joe kept trying to pull the smaller tree out of the dead tree by hooking it up to the tractor with the chain, but that little tree was desperate to stay upright and wouldn't let go.  Flamingo Joe kept having to cut sections off the bottom of the tree until he could get it down.

But this post is about the new sunflower division of the Hope Springs Eternal Bamboo Farm.  Two weekends ago, Jamie and Jayson came out and put the seeds in the ground.  Last weekend, I noticed quite a bit of squirrel activity in that general area.  Too much for our Anti-Squirrel Repellent System (Campbell) to handle.  I asked Joe if he thought the squirrels were digging up the sunflower seeds and eating them.  He said no.  I think he was mostly right.

When I went out to inspect the sunflowers that started sprouting up at the beginning of this week, I noticed that there were some sprouts with no leaves (just a little tiny stem sticking up out of the soil with nothing on it) and also some brand new sprouts that still had part of the shell on one of the leaves.  So I think that as soon as the sunflowers sprout, the squirrels are attracted to the part of the shells that are still on the leaves and nibble off the shell and inadvertently take off the leaves.

But it does appear that we may have some sunflowers that may make it past their first day from the soil:

The sunflower is the sprout in the middle.  My vision of an entire yard filled with sunflowers is probably not going to come to pass, unfortunately.  Most of my landscaping visions fall short in the actual execution of them, though.  In this case, at least, someone else is doing all the work.

Flamingo Joe has started making noises about a koi pond -- currently there is an oversized goldfish occupying our small aquarium, waiting for his new habitat to built out in the yard.  I don't hold out a lot of hope for the successful breeding of koi, but I'm supporting Flamingo Joe's newest dream.

I need a place to raise my sea monkeys.


  1. That thing from the Sea Monkey era you were trying to recall the name of. Was it the Rock Garden? That flower thingy reminded me of one of those.

  2. Magic rocks - put them in water and they grow...they have a bunch at glo


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