A retired nurse in Fife has been congratulated on her green-fingered success after she grew a 16-foot tall sunflower in her garden in Cupar.
Liz McInnes, who retired before lockdown after working as a nurse for four decades, said she planted the sunflower expecting it to grow to around six feet.
But the giant flower, the first Liz has ever grown, has now reached 16ft, towering over her garden in Cupar.
She has affectionately nicknamed the sunflower Betty.
Liz, 69, said she had used lockdown to pick up some new hobbies, including spending time outdoors and in her garden.
As lockdown started Liz feared it could be an isolating experience after a busy career as a nurse, but she used it as an opportunity to try new things and meet new people.
“My life has changed since lockdown, in lots of ways for the better,” she said.
“I have been going out walking, meeting people and becoming more environmentally aware and enjoying the country.”
Liz said she became friendly with someone who gave her seeds to harvest for the birds that visit her garden.
“I planted this sunflower, and it just keeps growing,” she said.
“I had no idea, I expected it to grow to around six feet.
“I have never grown one before, so it was quite a surprise when this thing just kept growing.”
How tall do sunflowers grow?
The average height of a sunflower depends on the variety, but the likes of the American Giant grows to an average of 16ft – while others can be as small as 1ft or 2ft.
The Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower is 30ft – which is more than nine metres.
It was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany in 2014.
Stars of late summer
Guy Barter, chief horticulturist with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the sunflower was “magnificent”.
“Some sunflowers grow readily to 10 or even 12ft, but 16ft is a magnificent achievement,” he said.
“Clearly some unsuspected green fingers.
“Sunflowers are the stars of late summer and we are admiring many lovely ones in RHS gardens and at the Chelsea Flower Show.”
Liz said she had enjoyed using lockdown to pick up new hobbies and find things she could do in retirement.
“I have been doing beach inspections, litter picks and the sunflower is mainly to harvest for the birds,” she said.
“Initially, like a lot of people, I was filled with dread about lockdown.
“It has changed my life positively in so many ways because it has generated all these new opportunities.
“It’s amazing who you meet by just saying ‘hello’.”