I Have Sunflower Envy

Illinois, we have a problem.

Remember my last sunflower update?




That would be our 11.5 foot-tall sunflower. We’ll have to zoom out to see the full effect.


Apparently, having stalks thicker than my arm is not enough to keep the larger sunflowers from drooping over like Peter when it’s past his bedtime. I’m not sure if this drooping took place before or after most of the sunflower petals shriveled into a crispy brown fringe.

I took this picture of the tallest sunflower head a few days ago. Rest assured it is now as brown and desiccated as its shorter brethren.


Bloomin’ ugly, I say.

Whenever I risk a slipped disk craning my head back to see the sunflowers, I can’t keep my envious eyes away from our neighbors’ gorgeous sunflower patch. I haven’t taken a picture of it, but it looks similar to this:


A full collection of well-formed flowers at respectable heights. No scraggly, view-blocking leaves or absurd stalk-to-flower ratio. In other words, sunflower success.

And so, yes: I have sunflower envy.

Where will it end? Shall I covet my neighbor’s mailbox, or the way the sidewalk is perfectly straight? How about the extra millisecond of rain they get during a dry spell?

The more I think about envy, the sillier it is. So what if someone achieves greater success, whether growing sunflowers or grabbing that fabulous job opportunity? “Success” is such a subjective term. What if a sunflower’s success is measured in height and the brownness and crispiness of its petals? I would be the biggest success on the block. (And I would have the best advertising slogan ever: “Jessie’s Sunflowers: The World’s Only Fried Chicken Petals”.)

Truth is, success is so personal, it’s meaningless as a objective evaluator of a person’s worth. It’s much better to be adventurous and to learn from my mistakes. Because my only competitor is myself.

What about my horizontally-challenged garden? The giant sunflowers were a fun experiment, one which won’t be repeated. Growing them has helped me learn I don’t favor plants taller than our house. And so I’ll try something else next year.

Maybe a nice corpse flower.

P.S. Today’s reflections were inspired by this cartoon – a little awesomeness for your weekend.


  1. WOW!!!!!!! These sunflowers are soooooooo tall! It’s quite amazing to see the height in your backyard. Maybe you can use the sunflowers for decoration or a book collection?

    1. That’s a great idea!

  2. That corpse flower is phallic. Grow one of those and you’re sure to incite envy from your neighbours.

    You should ask your neighbour for seeds from their sunflowers and save them for next year, should you decide to grow some again.

    1. Ha! Thanks for BOTH suggestions, Samantha.

  3. Three things I love about your post:
    1. Your flip-flops. 🙂
    2. Your reflection on envy/competition.
    3. The cartoon you shared. The man’s a genius.

  4. Oh wow! Maybe there’s a golden egg laying chicken at the top 🙂 Nature isn’t meant to be tamed anyway 😉

    Have a splendid weekend, Jessie!

    1. Haha, love it! Have a great weekend, Lucy!

  5. I loved this post, and most especially that Bill Watterson article! I absolutely loved Calvin and Hobbes when I was a kid, and it was nice to remember that world for a while 🙂
    I think a healthy dose of envy, as long as it is followed by the realization of the silliness of envy, is a good way to keep us grounded at times. And your sunflowers are actually something to be proud of- I’ve never grown anything to that height before!!

    1. I like your view! 🙂

  6. You’ve got some tall sunflowers!

    In all my years of gardening, I have encountered my share of weird and not so pretty or ” not normal” plants. I’ve decided to call them all unique. 🙂

    Happy weekend, Jessie!

  7. Too funny (yet…sad..sorry…but I’m definitely laughing). I would have though sunflower would look much better too (but to be honest, I also have some envy for our neighbors because their garden ALWAYS beats ours!! darn it, I guess it helps to be retired and have all day to work on the garden). Do you at least get seeds from the sunflowers??

    1. Not yet (the bees have to work first), but I’m expecting handfuls of roasted sunflower seeds come Fall! 🙂

  8. Simply Life says:

    Oh wow! I’m just impressed that you can grow sunflowers at all!

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