Today marks 2 months since we lost Michael. As time starts to pass I have been thinking a lot about his legacy and how to keep his spirit going in everything I do.
I’m going to start a sunflower growing challenge in his memory using the hashtag #growsunflowersformichael and I’m hoping you might join in! Sunflowers were Michael’s favourite flower as they are so cheerful and uplifting. They are also the perfect representation of his positivity and courage – I found a quote on Pinterest recently which read “I want to be a sunflower so that even on the darkest days I will stand tall & find the sunlight”, and this is exactly what Michael did.
Michael loved gardening and it was a hobby and passion we shared together. When we left London in 2012 and moved to Nottingham, we rented a huge 1930s house with a beautiful but slightly wild garden. As with everything he did, Michael approached the garden with a boundless enthusiasm and soon had a vegetable patch cleared and dug over and a greenhouse full of seeds ready to plant. In every house we moved to after that, Michael’s first priority was always to plan the garden. He was happiest with his hands in the soil and dirt on his nose.
By and large, Michael grew vegetables and I grew flowers, but there was one exception to this – sunflowers. He loved sunflowers, and last year we made a dedicated border to grow as many as we could. When Gardeners’ World gave away some free sunflower seeds last summer, we applied and received a few extra varieties giving us an abundance of seeds. Seizing on this opportunity, we popped some in the post to Michael’s Grandad (from who he inherited his love of gardening) and started a competition to see who could grow the tallest sunflower. We thought we would likely be at a disadvantage due to our more northerly climate, but Michael was determined to win. Our tallest sunflower was 9 foot 3! It was great fun and a lovely way for Michael and his Grandad to connect.
Michael had ambitious plans to grow even more varieties this summer, and so now I intend to carry them out and do him proud. Since he enjoyed our sunflower growing competition so much, I thought it might be fun to turn it into an annual event. To start with, I gave out packets of sunflower seeds at Michael’s funeral to carry on the competition and encourage all of his friends and family to grow sunflowers in his memory. My aim is for everyone who knew and loved Michael to always think of him and smile whenever they see a sunflower. As all of my IG friends and lovely blog readers have been so kind and supportive, I’d like to open it up and see if anyone else might like to take part?
The idea is simple – buy a packet of sunflower seeds, plant them, look after them, and see if you can grow the tallest! And I’d love it if everyone who would like to take part in the challenge could use the hashtag #growsunflowersformichael to share their progress on Instagram. It would be so wonderful if we could use the hashtag to create a virtual field of sunflowers, all grown for Michael.
I’m also very willing to share some of the wide variety of seeds we have collected, so if you would like to take part but don’t have any sunflower seeds to grow you can drop me an email at email@example.com with your name and address and I will pop a few seeds in the post to you.
Happy growing, and may the best sunflower win!
[Sunflower brooch by Hello Sunshine]