Oh, To Be As Tall As A Sunflower

By Laura Miller | April 24, 2022
Image by PaulMaguire
by Laura Miller
April 24, 2022

I’m not short. I’m vertically challenged. On a good day, I stand 5 foot 1 ½ inches (156 cm.) tall. (Can’t forget that ½ inch!) As the average human goes, I fall well below the middle mark when it comes to height. 

Gardening While Short

And being vertically challenged is, at times, challenging. I’ve had to ask total strangers if they could help me get items off upper grocery store shelves. I’ve always had to sit in the front row on picture day. And I have to buy my jeans in the petite department of clothing stores, even though my waist is nothing near what one would describe as petite.

Aside from these minor inconveniences, vertically challenged gardeners are at a disadvantage. I have to stand on a bucket in order to pound five foot (1.5 m.) tall tomato stakes into the ground. Same when picking figs from the higher branches of my container fruit trees. Can’t reach ’em without a stepstool.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve dumped water on myself instead of into my hanging baskets of flowers. And all but the lowest branches on trees are out of reach when I prune. Yet, my biggest complaint is with tools. Hoes, rakes and even my rototiller have long handles which are clearly made for taller gardeners.

Plants come in various sizes as well. The taller plants always get first dibs on the sunlight, which seems unfair to me. But as gardeners, we are the great equalizers. We plant those taller annuals at the back or northern edge of the flowerbeds. While this allows the more vertically challenged flowers to feed freely upon the sunlight, inequalities still exist.

Tall Tall Sunflowers

Yes, those tall flowering plants catch our eye much quicker than the low-lying blooms. I notice this as I walk to my vegetable patch which lays at the back of my long, narrow, two-acre property. Before my tomato, pepper and zucchini plants come into view, I see the bobbing heads of the sunflowers.

These quintessential flowers of summer are like sentries overlooking my garden. They turn their sun-worshipping faces to the dawn every morning and follow their path of sustenance as the star of our solar system bisects the sky each day. 

These majestic flowers tower over me. And I’m jealous. Yes, if I could be like a flower, I would choose the sunflower. To be taller is a wish of mine that can’t come true. Sure, I could don a pair of stilettos, but just try gardening in high heels. Oh, to have the tall, slim body of a fashion model is a trait which these mere flowers hold and I covet. 

Of course, there’s no sense wasting time on what we can’t have. So with a sigh, short little me simply plants my sunflowers at the back of my garden each spring. And for at least a few weeks, I tower over them.

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