Midas, the Sunflower King

Grandson Jude and King Midas

It started growing all on its own in the garden path, kind of in the way, right? Judith, the angel of kindness in the garden put some bamboo stakes around it. “Let’s see what the little sprout wants to do…” she said. So we tilled around it—didn’t really water it or fertilize it. When it was knee-high it was clear it was a sunflower.The other sunflowers growing up one terrace were doing OK, but this one started shooting up and developing a hefty ankle-thick stalk. It seemed like it was something special, maybe an alien invader like in the Sci-fi story THE DAY of the TRIFFIDS, ready to take over the planet. Then thinking in a practical way we freaked, “Oh, NO! maybe we have a leaking water main. AGAIN!” We’d had one of those expen$ive leaks a couple of years before. Our water main is 200 feet long from the road. The way the leak sleuths found it last time they drained the pipe and filled it with pressurized helium. Then, they put the electric bloodhound to work able to sniff the rising helium and found the leak lickety-split, Oh, jeeze, not again. Some heavy lifting was required in the cash department.

This sunflower seemed like it was from the Cretaceous, and with so little tending! Land of the Lost. I mean we weren’t really watering it much—the drought and all…So we called MMWD (our local water utility) to come and check our meter. We are super careful with our water use—low flow toilets—save a lot of grey water in pickle barrels for summer watering, etc. So they came out to our place and it turned out there was no leak, but the thing was standing at 9 feet. By the time this photo was taken it had topped out at 11′ 2″ and the head, sans petals was over 2 feet across. The head began to droop loaded with giant seeds. Oh boy, we can corner the market for SGV (San Geronimo Valley) Brand® giant sunflowers. The guys from MMWD said we should charge a fee just to gawk at the thing. A roadside attraction.

We’ve all read The Old Man and the Sea. The heart break of the poor fisherman, finally, after days of nary a nibble, 84 days—no fish—finally catching a gigantic Marlin. So big it couldn’t be hauled in but tied to his boat. You know the rest…sharks devour his prize. Well, like Santiago’s great fish, the Blue Jays and the Crows started circling. We covered it with paper bags—no good—pecked apart. Now there was blood in the water so to speak, burlap no good, ripstop nylon no good. By the end of September it was a bony, seedless carcass, seed husks piled all around. All we could do is tell the tale and maybe gold-leaf the best thing from the garden last year.

We did manage to save a scant few seeds—Spring planting is just around the corner…


On display at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, March 1-28.

We hope you can join us for the reception:

Working from Home

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang

Sunday, March 12, 2017       4-7 PM

San Geronimo Community Center

6350 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

San Geronimo, CA


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