Seed specialist pays ?1,000 for three-storey sunflower

A gardener with a lifelong passion for sunflowers has won ?1,000 following a nationwide hunt for the UK?s tallest specimen.

Seed and plant specialist Thompson & Morgan announced the biggest ever cash prize for a tallest sunflower competition in spring, in a bid to see the world record brought to UK shores.

The bumper prize attracted entrants from around the UK, form gardeners young and old. There were some stand-out specimens sitting between 12ft to 14ft, but the clear winner at a staggering 24ft was grown by Richard Hope. The Wigan gardener is well-known on the giant vegetable growing circuit, having held previous world records for the biggest swede, heaviest leek and longest parsnip. Grown against a sunny wall of his house, the giant plants reach the apex of the roof three storeys up.

His entry was shy of the world record by 4ft 8in, but Richard still has his sights on beating the 28ft 8in sunflower grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer of Kaarst-Vorst, Germany, in 2013.

Horticultural director of Thompson & Morgan, Paul Hansord, said: ?We?ve not had much sunshine this year, but sunflowers have certainly done well in UK gardens. We were excited to see entries of 12ft ,13ft, 14ft coming in ? impressive heights by any means. When Mr Hope?s entry hit our inbox we couldn?t believe it. We sent our closest area sales manager to verify things, who quickly called to say we should get the company cheque book ready!?

Thompson & Morgan is upping the stakes for 2016 and will again be offering ?1,000 for the tallest UK sunflower, but if it breaks the world record the prize money will be upped to ?2,000. If a gardener breaks the record using the mail order specialist?s ?incredibloom? fertiliser, the prize pot will be doubled again to ?4,000.

(Image credit: Wigan Evening Post)

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