I’ve just ordered seeds today of one of my favourite annual plants, Sunflower ‘Black Magic’ This unusual sunflower is a real stunner with deep dark flowers on black stems and the leaves even oblige with their complimentary black veining. I’ll sow them in a few weeks in a warm greenhouse and will then have to protect the seedlings from the slugs, who can devour a tray of young leaves overnight. When it comes time to plant them out in early May I will have to be sure to stake them very carefully. One year I tied the young plants to bamboo canes with soft string but I didn’t take into account the rapid growth of the plants and how quickly their stems would swell from skinny whips into broomstick wannabes. Over a couple of weeks, unbeknownst to me, the string had dug deeply into the stems, strangling and weakening them by the day. Then when the plants were just reaching their full glory – SNAP. They broke at the point of tying and all was lost. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it now…..