Stamford gardener in international sunflower growing competition

John Curtis with his large sunflower. John and his sister Betty, who lives in Australia, are having a sunflower growing competition  Photo: SM090811-013ow
John Curtis with his large sunflower. John and his sister Betty, who lives in Australia, are having a sunflower growing competition Photo: SM090811-013ow
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A GARDENER is locked in an international competition to grow the tallest sunflower.

John Curtis is competing against his sister Betty Bradshaw in Adelaide, Australia, to grow the tallest sunflower.

John, 68, of Doughty Street, Stamford, says that he and his sister text each other to share the height of their sunflowers.

The Stamford sunflower seems to be winning the race by reaching a whopping 9ft 6in and is still growing.

The Australian sunflower is 8ft 6in but John believes it has reached its peak as its head has bloomed.

He said: “I hope my sunflower will reach 10ft.

“My sister in Australia keeps texting me that her sunflower is 8ft 6in.

“Her sunflower has come out so it wont grow any more.

“I would like to beat my sister in the sunflower contest.

“It is a bit of fun.”

John has grown a number of sunflowers in his garden this year but his most successful bloom was planted alongside his runner beans.

John, who used to run a local sunflower growing contest, puts the secret of his success down to the flower being watered twice a day.

It also gets plant food twice a week.

German flight attendant Hans Peter Schiffer currently holds the world record for the tallest sunflower.

His flower reached 26ft 4in in 2009.

One sunflower in Michigan, America, grew with 837 heads on one plant.