A couple has proved their love is still blooming 40 years on by recreating a photo they took when they first got together posing alongside a 12ft sunflower.
Paul Szewc, 61, and his wife, Sandy, also 61, met in 1982 when Sandy asked Paul to dance in a bar.
The green-fingered duo posed up beside a 12ft sunflower Paul had grown in his mum’s garden back in September 1984.
But 38 years later, the gardening enthusiasts were delighted when they grew another whopper and recreated the photo they took when they first got together.
Paul, a furniture maker, from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, said: “One of our sunflowers just so happened to shoot up again.”
Paul believed flowers were the key to a woman’s heart when he wooed his now-wife with a gigantic sunflower when they first got together.
He invited Sandy to his mum’s garden to show her the plant he’d grown from seed – and one particularly impressive flower towered 12ft above them.
Keen to impress, he got Sandy to stand on his shoulders and his mum, Marjorie, snapped a picture of the pair in 1984.
The couple – who have two sons, Jason, 32, and Kyle, 31- continued to grow sunflowers over the years and were delighted when another giant one appeared in July 2021.
They decided to recreate the photo they took when they first met – with their son, Jason, snapping them in the exact position – four decades on.
Paul said: “I really wanted to woo her, and it clearly worked.
“We both love gardening and sunflowers in particular – they bring back such happy memories.”
Sandy, 61, who co-owns their furniture business said: “I was so impressed with Marjarie’s massive garden
“Paul lifted me onto his shoulders as if to say ‘look what I can do’,
“He charmed me as he didn’t have a car at the time but cycled to my work at a telecommunications company to deliver me a home-grown packed lunch.”
The couple married two years later on 20 September 1986.
Health-conscious Paul enjoyed growing his own food and encouraged Sandy to get into gardening.
“I thank the sunflowers and my healthy, home-grown food,” Paul said.
“Sandy was a junk food addict before meeting me, but I sent her off to work with nutritious packed lunches and the rest is history.
”I got her hooked on my home-grown fruit and veg.”
This year’s photo is slightly different as the pair are joined by their grandchildren – three-month-old twins, Maddie and Quinn – who are Kyle’s children.
Paul believes his love of gardening is ‘in his genes’ as his grandmother, Mary Allen, 107, worked as an assistant for family in Nottingham, UK before moving over to Canada in 1910.
The family owe their grandma’s long life to a healthy organic life.
The furniture maker thanks his grandma and mum for giving him green thumbs.
“She taught me the importance of preserving food. I grow a garden so I can process a year’s supply of food in his cold cellar,” Paul said.
“These days with the cost of food growing your own in a garden is the way to go.
“When my dad, Joseph died, I was 10 and my mum and I didn’t have much – except our garden.
“I picked up a pitchfork and thought: ‘Well we’ve got to eat,’ and that’s where my love of gardening came from – a need to.”
Paul said lockdown got him and Sandy back out in the garden – after their busy lives took over.
“As soon as lockdown hit, and we had nothing to do I was reminded of the joys of gardening,” he said.
“I’m so glad I re-found my love for gardening, and I hope my grandchildren will develop our green fingers too.”
Paul’s top five tips for gardening:
1. Water your compost and turn it over to ensure all of it remains damp.
2. Plant what you like to eat and you will quickly be eating amazing fresh meals.
3. Plant things that are easy to harvest, everyone loves garlic and tomatoes and these are so easy.
4. Enjoy the whole process of gardening and make time in your day to do it- it is such a therapeutic process.
5. Now we are experiencing drier weather, take the time to water your plants by hand, it takes longer but uses much less water.