Monday 25 July 2011

Ollie's Sunflower

The sunflowers I've grown this year are very special indeed. Let me tell you all about them. Earlier on this year I mentioned that I was going to have a go at growing mange tout for the first time. I received an offer of some seeds from Bilbo Waggins from The View From Bag End. The seeds were Stephens and Robinson, both of which are actually peas but can be used as a mange tout, and both have performed very well. Enclosed in the parcel were some Ollie's Sunflower seeds which I've felt very privileged to be able to grow. Ollie was Bilbo's Bearded Collie, a once in a lifetime dog, and he sadly passed away in August 2009. On that very same day, a bird sown sunflower bloomed for the first time in Bilbo's garden. She collected seeds from the plant and whenever she sends seeds to anyone, she also includes some of these sunflower seeds in the parcel too. What a wonderful way to keep Ollie's memory alive. If you'd like to read about Ollie, you can visit Bilbo's blog via the link, and you will find the label for Ollie down the right hand side.

I got my leeks planted out yesterday, there's fifty four of them in total, so they should see us through the winter months. We also planted out another sowing of dwarf French beans and climbing beans. The first sowing are just starting to come in to flower now so this second batch should extend the season. I'm hoping to be able to freeze plenty. I also lifted my shallots and they're now drying.

All the brassicas which I sowed a few weeks ago have been devoured by slugs. I'm having lots of trouble with the little blighters this year. I was hoping to have plenty to plant out for winter, so I'll have another go at sowing them this week, though I might be a little late now, only time will tell.


  1. Sunflowers are so bright and cheery. What a lovely idea of Bilbo's. Ollie looks a super boy!

    What a shame about your brassicas Jo - my broccolli did really well - except that they weren't the sprouting kind so they are all done and dusted now! Made lots of soup though which is delicious.


  2. Love the Sunflower seeds idea.... My newly-planted brassicas (PSB and Cavolo Nero) seem to have been attacked by Cabbage Root Fly. They are all wilting.

  3. Oh no you're being attacked by slugs and snails too - the copper tape mentioned in Martyn's blog seems to have given them a problem for now so we'll have to see how it goes.

  4. Jo, thank you so much for remembering my boy - I'm sitting here snuffling with a tear in my eye, you've written some lovely words in this post..

    Your sunflowers look like they have done well, as has all of your lottie.

    once again, thanks and hugs, Bilbo, x

  5. What a beautiful way of remembering a dear four legged companion and oh what cheerful sunflowers.
    Must be more organised and do leeks next year.

  6. AnonymousJuly 26, 2011

    What a lovely story about Ollie and the sunflower seeds, they are a very pretty sunflower too.
    A thrush keeps scuttling out from underneath one plant or other in my garden, so she is helping out in the slug control department but sadly one isn't enough, I keep telling her to bring her friends!x

  7. AnonymousJuly 27, 2011

    A poignant post and a lovely photo! xx

  8. Ollie does look like a lovely dog, Jeanne. I think this is such a great way to keep his memory alive. The brassicas which are planted out are doing well, I'm harvesting calabrese and cavolo nero at the moment. I was hoping to get more in for the winter months but we'll have to see how they do now that the slugs have eaten the first batch of seedlings.

    I've heard of planting a flower in memory of a loved one, but never collecting seeds like this, Mark, such a good idea. What a shame about your brassicas, it seems there's always something waiting to thwart us gardeners.

    I've never had as much slug and snail damage in the garden before, Sue. I hope the copper tape works for you, fingers crossed.

    You're welcome, Bilbo. I've enjoyed growing the sunflowers, it's always so much more interesting when there's a story behind a plant, especially one as lovely as this. Ollie was such a special dog and it's a privilege to keep his memory alive in this way.

    I think this is a very fitting way to remember Ollie, Anna, I'm pleased that I've been given the chance to do so. Leeks are so easy, I just sow the seeds in a plantpot and forget about them until it's time for them to be planted out. We love leeks, so I'd hate to be without.

    The sunflowers are very pretty, Bluebell, a very fitting variety for the purpose. It's nice that you have a thrush helping you out with slug patrol, I've seen more thrushes than usual about this year, though sadly, none are keeping the slugs at bay here.

    Thanks, Flighty. I was very touched to be asked to grow Ollie's Sunflowers.

  9. Jo, hope this isn't gate-crashing. If any of your friends/readers would like some of Ollie's seeds I have plenty to spare.

    Contact me by clicking on BilboWaggins above this message and there is an email link on my profile.

  10. Of course it isn't gate grashing, Bilbo. What a very generous offer, I've really enjoyed seeing Ollie's blooms this year. I'll mention your offer to my readers in my next post.

  11. What a lovely story about Bilbo....I really enjoyed this.

    Sorry your brassicas got of the cons of growing your own I suppose...but I think you still have time to grow more.

    Good luck with your next set of beans...mine didn't germinate!!

  12. It's lovely to grow something with a story behind it, Tanya. My beans have germinated and are growing well, I'm just hoping that there's enough time left this year for the beans to set.


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