Well. actually, there aren’t. At least, not last time I looked, though I am not at all certain just what it is I should be looking for. What we do have is a sunflower at the bottom of the garden, that much is certain. Not only that, we have another sunflower at the top of the garden, a third somewhere in the middle and, not to miss the point, practically a forest of sunflowers everywhere we look. 

Now this is odd, since we haven’t planted any. Not one. Not a single seed. However, I do believe I have correctly analysed the appearance of these rather mysterious plants. It is tempting to invoke intelligent design, but I doubt it. It is tempting to invoke the power of modern Science, but I doubt that as well. To explain the matter, I feel the need to go back in time, about a year ago.

It was just last late summer, when we had the builders in to repair and renew the under-house water drainage system, the old one having broken down, leading to mini floods in the cellar every spring when the snow melted. We have rather large amounts of snow in this part of the world, and drainage systems work hard for their living. 

An enormous trench was dug around the house, reaching well underneath the foundations, old piping replaced with new, and the trench duly filled in again. Some 32 cubic metres of soil was spread on top to replace that which had been scraped off and lost in the process of the work. Soft soil. Genuine soil, bearing little resemblance to the usual growing foundation for what laughingly passes for grass. The problem there, you see, is that the house and garden are built on the sea bed, and no, this fact does not directly account for cellar flooding, as we are actually on solid ground. The country I live in is still rising from the last ice age. 300 years ago, the sea stood where our house rests now. We are, in fact some five metres above sea level, so rapid is the land movement. Fortunately for building purposes, but unfortunately for gardening, our old sea bed is composed of rock, or rather, rocks. Note the plural form, and be patient. I’m getting there.

At the moment, then, until the rocks start moving upwards again, which they most assuredly will during the next winter or two, we have light, friable, and above all, soft soil around the house, spread out over about a quarter of an acre.

Did I mention that we feed the birds in the garden? Well, we do, and not only birds are attracted to the offerings we make, but also squirrels. Red squirrels. Squirrels in large numbers. We have identified at least ten of them. All are permanently hungry. All are permanently angry. Not one will allow another to steal their precious food, so what a squirrel cannot eat immediately, it buries in our soft soil. Before the building work, it would have needed claws of steel to get through the rock, but now, the job of making stores against the winter is easy. What do we feed them on? Right first time. Sunflower seeds, so where fairies are shy, secretive creatures, never seen by my eyes at least, it’s a bit difficult to miss hundreds of sunflower plants thrusting vigorously towards the sky.