A WIGAN man is just nine inches away from grabbing the record for the world’s tallest sunflower.
Already the tallest of the gigantic plants growing up the gable end wall of Richard Hope’s home on Gathurst Lane at Shevington is 25ft 7ins tall.
And with a week of mild nights and some sunny days, he knows he is a whisper from floral world fame.
Former railwayman Richard, 68, is, by his own admission, obsessed with growing giant flowers and vegetables.
Despite taking lots of awards for massive marrows and Titanic-sized tomatoes, the world sunflower record – held by a German at 26ft 4ins – has infuriatingly eluded him thus far.
Richard, who uses a secret soil mixture and special fertilisers, said: “My tallest sunflower is just starting to bloom.
“It’s above the apex of the wall and with a bit of luck, the world record will be mine.
“I’m not getting too excited at the moment but this particular flower is the tallest I’ve grown in 30 years.
“There used to be a British sunflower in the Guinness Book of Records, but now they only deal in world records.
“This summer, the weather has not been ideal. There have been weeks when the weather has been cold at night.
“If I get the world sunflower record, I’ll be the happiest man in the world.”
Richard is known for his sunflower success, but he also grows massive vegetables.
He added: “I make no secret of the fact that growing giant stuff is an absolute obsession.
“It has given me a great deal of pleasure over the years, and have won prizes at a host of different shows.
“It’s amusing to see the reaction of people when I show them a tomato weighing 3lb and a cucumber of 10lb.”