Mr. L came home the other night and I immediately knew something was wrong. He looked dejected. His shoulders were slumping. He had a frown on his face. "It's gone" he said. What? What's gone? "My sunflower. Some stupid ^&%$#$* took my sunflower". And then he slumped in the chair. I understood his pain.
Last summer, on a routine trip to the hardware store, Mr. L came back with a packet of sunflower seeds. Not the kind you eat, but the kind you plant. I have no idea why he bought them, but he was determined to grow some sunflowers. So he went out and got some little seed pots and proceeded to plant a good dozen seeds. But as soon as they started sprouting, the squirrels decided they were fair game. We came home to find dirt and little sprouts all over the patio. Mr. L was not amused.
So Mr. L got inventive. He concocted this squirrel proof netting system full of pots, stakes and several different types of netting. And he babied those seedlings. He continued to put the little sunflower plants into bigger pots as they grew. He mulched. He watered. He moved to sunnier spots. Some survived, some didn't. But his safeguards worked. If the seedlings didn't live, it wouldn't be because of the squirrels.
As this spring rolled around, there were maybe three plants that seemed to have survived the winter. So they were planted in even bigger pots. And Mr. L tended them, trying to coax them to live, watering them faithfully, moving them to the correct sunlight. Alas, two of them failed. So then there was one. One beautiful sunflower plant. Mr. L took it out of the netting, staked it and we watched it grow. And grow. And then....yes, a flower. Beautiful yellow petals beginning to burst forth. And then, before the plant could reach it's full potential, it was cut down.
We speculated what could have caused this disaster. The plant wasn't knocked over. It looked like someone had come, taken a knife, and just cut off the top part of the plant that held the flower. Could it have been birds? We have a family of doves that live in our patio. But no, couldn't be them. We thought maybe a person had come in and taken the flower. But why leave other flowers or items in our patio? Squirrels? But how could squirrels lop off the top like that and not destroy the rest of the plant? It didn't matter. Mr. L sat dejectedly in his chair muttering "It's gone".
The next morning as I was leaving for work I took a closer look at the plant (which you see above). The plant was still standing tall in it's pot, it just had no top. And then I noticed it. Up on the top of the patio wall. Telltale signs of a yellow sunflower plant. And then on the other side of the wall, more of the plant...yellow petals. It then dawned on me. Damn squirrels.
The side of the patio walls are made of a textured material that the squirrels can climb. In fact the entire house is made of this material and we watch squirrels climb up and down the outside walls all the time (can't wait for the first time our kitten sees one running by the window!).
My thought is that the stupid squirrel went at the sunflower plant from up above. It probably was prancing along the top of the wall, looked down, saw the seeds in the middle of the just blossoming sunflower and thought "dinner!". It climbed down the patio wall a bit, grabbed/gnawed the top of the sunflower plant off and went about destroying Mr. L's beloved project.
We have no idea if the plant will grow another flower. We don't have the heart to throw away this topless sunflower after it worked so hard (with Mr. L's help) to survive. I do know that any squirrel that shows his face anywhere near our place in the near future should be very afraid of it's life, because I have a feeling Mr. L will be waiting in hiding. And I doubt he will be giving any quarter....