Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 26 May 2016

Scaling new heights in our tallest sunflower quest

By Linda Stewart

Published 13/08/2014

Tall order: Belfast Telegraph's Linda Stewart with Dolores McAllister's sunflower
Tall order: Belfast Telegraph's Linda Stewart with Dolores McAllister's sunflower

Wow! This sunflower has really blown us all away.

There was no difficulty tracking down Dolores McAllister's home in south Belfast - it was surrounded by gigantic bobbing sunflowers!

Dolores gives Linda a helping hand
Dolores gives Linda a helping hand

Measuring her tallest sunflower for our Blooming Marvellous sunflower growing competition was a little more of a challenge as it was far too tall to reach with the tape measure.

When we scaled those dizzy heights, the sunflower clocked up an incredible 9ft 6in, which means it is 52 inches taller than Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart, who is 5ft 2in.

Dolores admits to being something of a sunflower obsessive, so it's no wonder she has cracked the technique.

The retired English teacher says: "I've been growing them for maybe 15 years. It dates back to when I first went to France, to the Vendee, and I was mesmerised by all the sunflowers.

"From planting them as little seeds to watching them grow, I love them so much.

"I use the seeds from the year before. The big killer at the beginning is keeping the slugs away. If you can get them to a foot high, they are generally OK.

Further Reading

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

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)?  

"You have to stake them because they grow too big. Some other years when there was lots of wind, I would have been out covering them all with big canvas things to stop them from being wrecked. Everybody loves them."

Dolores says she has given lots of sunflowers away to friends and neighbours but they never seem to grow as big.

"I think they are not as obsessed by them!" she says.

And if you think your sunflower can beat this one, show it off! We want to see how your sunflowers are getting on and how they measure up to the other 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 your entry to or post it to Linda Stewart at Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1DN 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."

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