Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Blooming miracle as sunflower climbs to dizzying height of 77 inches or 1.25 Lindas

Linda Stewart with Margaret Hanna's  77-inch high sunflower in Belfast
Linda Stewart with Margaret Hanna's 77-inch high sunflower in Belfast

It's the first time Margaret Hanna has experimented with sunflowers – and she's proved herself to be a natural.

One of the glorious pom-pom like blossoms in her garden at Ballygomartin Road, Belfast, has reached a fantastic 77 inches in height – that is 15 whole inches taller than our Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart, in our estimation 1.25 Lindas.

Margaret and her husband David have filled their garden with sunflowers following a rather unfortunate mishap with their granddaughter Gaby's sunflower last year.

"This is our first attempt. The granddaughter got one in school last year and her granda killed it," Margaret explains.

"So we promised we would grow them this year for her. She is well pleased with them.

"I planted them for all eight of the grandkids, so they all have their own.

"They all helped me to do the seeds and water them, and when we transplanted them, they came along and helped then.

"These three are my own– they're the ones that were left."

Margaret admits she is surprised to find that each plant gives you multiple blossoms.

"I always thought a sunflower only had one head," she says.

"I am going to do them again, only next time they will all be in the borders – they are easier tended there."

Sunflowers aren't native to the UK, but they've become a familiar part of our summer gardens thanks to their huge size and glorious appearance.

Many of us have fond memories of pitting our gardening skills against fellow pupils in our school days in the sponsored sunflower competition.

So if you think your sunflower can beat Margaret's, show it off.

The Belfast Telegraph wants to see how your sunflowers are getting on and how they measure up to the rest of our entries.

Just measure your sunflower, take a photo and send it in.

Include your name, address, phone number, email address, the height of your tallest sunflower and a photo.

Either email or post it to Linda Stewart by September 8 – but we do want to see how they're getting on before that so go ahead and send them in.

Belfast Telegraph Editor Mike Gilson says: "We all love sunflowers because they bring such vivid colour to our gardens and that's why we're celebrating the sunflower in our latest gardening drive.

"We hope you get the most out of your free seeds."

Sunflowers are thought to have been domesticated for the first time in Mexico, around 2,600BC, after crops were found at a dig site in Tabasco.

The flower has secured iconic status in the art world as the subject of Van Gogh's Sunflowers series of paintings and during the late 19th century, the flower was used as the symbol of the Aesthetic Movement.

How many Lindas is your sunflower?

Send us a snap of your specimen and win a digital camera!

So how does your sunflower measure up? This one is 77 inches, 15 inches taller than our Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart who is 5ft 2in — making 1.25 Lindas. So can you grow a sunflower that is two Lindas tall, or even three?

Can you grow a sunflower that is two Lindas tall, or even three? Show us how your sunflower is getting on, including your name, address, phone number, email address, the height of your tallest flower and a photo.

Either email your entry to sunflowers@belfasttelegraph. co.uk or post it to Linda Stewart at Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1DN for a chance to win one of three Fujifilm Finepix digital cameras.

Linda will be heading out over the next few weeks to visit some of the more impressive entries in Northern Ireland’s gardens.

The final closing date is September 8 so keep us updated.

Sunflower cultivation a growing industry, so here's another tall tale

So, how does your sunflower measure up against this big yellow beauty (and our Linda, who's little smaller)? 

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