Gardener grows Britain's tallest sunflower at 26 feet... and it is STILL shooting up as winter approachesIt has been one of the wettest and most miserable summers on record
Yet gardener Richard Hope has still managed to grow Britain’s tallest ever sunflower.
It appears the plant’s love of sunshine and hot, tropical conditions hasn’t stopped it thriving despite the poor weather - or maybe it was just striving to get a little closer to some elusive sunshine.
Now the giant specimen is agonisingly short of scooping the world record for the tallest sunflower.
Standing 26ft tall, it is currently just four inches off the world record of 26 ft 4in, set by German Hans-Peter Schiffer in 2009.
But Mr Hope, 67, of Wigan, who has been growing giant sunflowers for 30 years, is still optimistic of stealing the crown.
He said: ‘This sunflower has been 30 years in the making. For as long as I can remember I’ve grown a taller one each year. It has got to the stage now where I’ve got this super strain generating giant ones.’
Mr Hope has battled driving rain, overcast skies and early frosts to grow the giant flower - which stands at over two storeys high - on the side of his terraced home.
And even as winter begins to set in and temperatures fall away, the towering sunflower is still growing.
He said: ‘I’ve not given up hope of it breaking the world record, but with the nights drawing in and the weather changing, the sunflower will begin to shut up shop soon.
‘It is frustrating as we are only a day or two of sunshine away from it growing the five inches needed. All we can do is hope.’
Mr Hope, a retired railway worker, claims his secret weapon is using Grow Organic manure, shovelling 15 bags of the stuff on the roots.
And spending hours each day tending to them, Mr Hope has become a force to be reckoned with in giant vegetable competitions.
He has previously held a host of world records - including the biggest swede, heaviest leek and longest parsnip.
And while still in the hunt for the sunflower record, he has already smashed the British one.
Mr Hope added: ‘It is a personal best even if I don’t make the world record. The old British record is only 23ft, so it is miles higher than that.’
He first began growing sunflowers 30 years ago when a friend gave him some seeds and he cross pollinated the seeds to achieve this gigantic strain of the flower.
He said the secret to growing the monstrous sunflowers was starting them off in a greenhouse and caring for the plants on a daily basis throughout the summer, ensuring they don’t dry out.
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