Shanks got more than they bargained for in Antrim Township garden

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Gerald and Ruby Shank stand next to a six-foot sunflower plant, which has taken on a bush-like appearance. It is no where near their flower gardens.

Gerald and Ruby Shank don’t have to get very specific as they direct people to their Talhelm Road home. They can just say, “Look for the sunflower.”

Or flowers, to be more accurate.

The couple noticed a stray plant growing in their prolific vegetable garden this spring. Out of curiosity, they left it alone. It started as a single stalk. When it was about four feet tall, they realized it was a sunflower.

“We didn’t plant it,” said Ruby. “We’ve never had sunflowers. The neighbors do, but not the same kind.”

They chalked the seed drop to a bird.

The annual bloomed in early July. Then it just kept going.

“It was the one clear at the top,” said Gerald. “But there were buds.”

By now they figure 40 flowers have opened, and more buds are hiding among the leaves.

As the Shanks bring in their sweet corn, potatoes, beans, onions, and multitude of other vegetables and fruits, they are greeted with a cheerful sunflower(s) to make the work more fun.