Belfast Telegraph

The skyscraping sunflower that rivals Jack and the Beanstalk

By Linda Stewart

Hold the front page - our Bloomin' Marvellous sunflower-growing competition has a new front runner.

Last week we revealed that our tallest sunflower to date was 11 feet 9 inches, grown by Shirley Olphert in her Newbuildings garden.

Now we've discovered an even taller one – a 12 feet 4 inch giant grown by Mavis and Jacqueline Garvin in their back garden in Castledawson.

That makes it 7 feet 2 inches taller than our Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart – and a staggering 2.39 Lindas tall.

Widow Mavis (78) is fond of gardening and has planted a host of flowers, including sweetpea, pansies and begonias.

But she had never grown sunflowers properly before, until this year when she and her daughter Jacqueline succeeded in growing these giants.

"I grew them before, but we never got to the length of getting them transplanted and they died, poor things. I think it was because they weren't watered," she says.

"But this year, we transplanted them out, and they just took off.

"We've been reading up on them and apparently they can reach 17 feet or more. I don't know what we did. It wasn't fed or anything like that. If we had fed it, dear only knows where it would have stopped – it could have been like Jack and the Beanstalk."

So far the tallest sunflower has reached 12 feet 9 inches and the flower hasn't even opened properly yet. Even measuring it proved something of a challenge. Mavis's daughters Jacqueline and Rhonda had to scale a step ladder and use a steel rule to reach to the top of the bloom.

"We have a few sunflowers at the front of the house but they're tiny; they're nothing in comparison. Maybe we talked to them more at the back!" Mavis says.

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. 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.

Sunflowers are thought to have been domesticated for the first time in Mexico, around 2,600BC. Many indigenous American peoples used the flower as a symbol of their solar deity.

Story so far

So how does your sunflower measure up? Our tallest to date is an incredible 12 foot 4 , which is 7 foot 2 taller than our Environment Correspondent, scoring an impressive 2.39 Lindas. So can you grow a sunflower that is three Lindas tall? For the chance to win one of three digital cameras, 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. Linda will be out and about over the next few weeks, measuring the most promising specimens.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph