Belfast Telegraph

At 76.5in, this sunflower is the pick of very big bunch

By Linda Stewart

The Lyons family from Stranmillis admit they went a bit mad when it came to sowing sunflowers this summer – with the tally coming to more than 100.

Their efforts have paid off, with this entry in our Bloomin' Marvellous sunflower growing competition reaching a lofty 76.5 inches.

That's 14.5 inches taller than your environment correspondent, who is 5ft 2in.

Dad Martin Lyons said the family had been growing sunflowers for eight or nine years, but really went to town this summer.

"The children go to Stranmillis Primary School and they used to bring sunflowers home," he said.

"This year we got the free seeds with the Belfast Telegraph, but we also took the dry seeds out of last year's sunflowers and reused them.

"This year we must have had 100 or more – the day they planted them, I was at work, and they all went a bit mad.

"We were giving loads away – everyone who came here was getting one."

Having so many sunflowers makes for a lot of work for the family, he said.

"The hard part is bringing them to that height – they get all bendy and fall over," he added.

"Every day we have to come out and loosen the ties holding them to the canes – we spend ages going round them.

"It took a lot of effort; the big problem is that we go away for 10 days every summer and friends come in to water them, but you need to deadhead too.

"Sometimes I come home from a shift and I am still out watering them at midnight. But it seems a shame when you get them so far not to go on with it."

The tallest sunflower is being kept in a corner to protect it from wind and is supported by two canes fastened end-to-end.

"The higher they get, the more delicate they become," Martin said.

Sunflowers have become a regular part of our summer gardens thanks to their huge size and glorious appearance, and hopefully our Belfast Telegraph contest will evoke some nostalgic feelings.

So, 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 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 your entry to sunflowers@belfasttelegraph.co.uk 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

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