MOUNT DENSON, N.S. — An online memorial of sorts has popped up on Facebook and is helping a local farmer grapple with what she calls a selfish act.
Earlier this week, someone swiped a unique flower from a Mount Denson sunflower maze, trampling the surrounding area. When news broke on social media about the discovery, commenters were quick to condemn the theft.
Jen Wilson, who owns Dakeyne Farm with her husband, Ken, started the sunflower maze seven years ago. Every year, she scatters a few new seeds throughout the maze. This year, a deep red sunflower, affectionately dubbed Big Red, sprung up. It was a sight to behold.
“They really only bloom for two weeks,” said Wilson.
“The first flower had been open for probably about a week and then it had two other flowers that had just opened and that’s what I was coming up to take a picture of,” she said, noting she never got the chance to photograph its full beauty when she sought it out during her evening stroll Sept. 17.
Sometime between Sept. 16-17, the sunflower’s head was taken, and the area where it once proudly stood out among a sea of yellow swaying sunflowers was beaten down.
“My field gets beat down quite a bit anyways because people tend to go into the flowers, when they’re not supposed to for photos,” said Wilson.
“Big Red, of course, had a little path to it. People were being good; they were staying on the little path that someone else had put in and not breaking any other flowers. She was good for a while,” she continued.
Wilson said she’s upset by the theft and is having difficulty understanding why someone would feel like they could take the flower.
“I just want to know why they thought they were entitled to it. Everybody else that came just took a picture,” she said.
“There were still a couple of flowers that hadn’t bloomed on it and they were coming out. They could have left it for the rest of us to see how pretty it was. But no, they felt like it was theirs so they took it. I just want to know why they felt that way.”
After the grim discovery, Wilson spent some time on her computer searching for an inspirational quote – something to lift her spirits. She found a quote by Osho encouraging people to not pick flowers.
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.
So if you love a flower, let it be.
Love is not about possession.
Love is about appreciation.”
Wilson then explained to her youngest daughter, eight-year-old Dayita, who helps with the planting of the maze, what had happened. That conversation turned into Wilson asking visitors to share their favourite images of Big Red, sparking an online community conversation and a contest to boot.
Sarina Holz, of Halifax, visited the maze recently and spotted the red wonder. While she’s in Europe right now, she learned of the flower’s destruction via Facebook. She shared a photo she took of Big Red to the memorial/contest page.
“I had no idea this sunflower had such a significance other than it obviously stood out of the rest of the lush yellow ones surrounding it,” said Holz in a Facebook message with the Valley Journal-Advertiser.
“When I read the story about it on Facebook I was very disappointed and saddened that someone would be so selfish to pick it and take it so that others couldn’t admire its beauty while visiting,” she said.
“The field is truly beautiful and sunflowers have been my absolute favourite since I was a little kid. I find their simplicity absolutely beautiful and they bring a smile to my face every time I see them; I was full of smiles walking through that field to say the least.”
Those who have a photo of Big Red are encouraged to submit it via Facebook for a chance to win two tickets to the upcoming zombie chicken maze.
Also a brainchild of Wilson’s daughters, this year the farm will be hosting a spooky weekend maze leading up to Halloween.
“They call our guinea hens zombie chickens. If you’ve ever seen a guinea hen, it’s got a white face and it’s kind of scary looking,” said Wilson with a laugh.
The guinea hens will be wandering throughout the spent sunflower maze, picking at seed. She said the hens will squawk at visitors if they come too close.
The zombie chicken maze will be open Saturdays and Sundays in October. The cost is $10 for adults; $5 for children age four to 12 years; and free for children age three years and under.
Wilson said the maze will “give you a little bit of a fright” but won’t be terrifying. It also provides a creepy yet cool backdrop for photos.
“It also makes for great pictures because the sunflower heads themselves can, in their own way, look creepy for pictures and there should still be lots,” she said. “We planted some giant mammoths and they still haven’t bloomed so I should have some yellow sunflowers in amongst all the brown.”
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Staying positive is key
Wilson said despite the theft, she doesn’t want to dwell on the negative experience, especially since she’s received such an outpouring of support from the online community. She’s even had offers of new seeds that could be planted next year.
“I was once a little seed covered in dirt and it took a while for me to grow out of that dirt to bloom,” she said when asked how she has such a positive outlook on life.
“Everybody struggles in life and my upbringing wasn’t the best. I don’t see a point in dwelling in all of the hardship because there’s always something out there that will make you smile,” she said.
“If you always look to the sunshine, like Helen Keller said, you let the shadows face your back. I just think it’s the best way to be is to always look for the positive in life.”
With the ability to have people share photos of Big Red and other blooms that inspired them, Wilson is lapping up the positivity and goodwill that’s out there.
“In this culture that we live in right now, it’s always looking to the negative. The news is always negative, your Facebook feed is negative. So it’s nice to see a little bit of sunshine in all that negativity. And that’s what the sunflowers are about.”