A green-fingered youngster from Ottery St Mary has been named the outright winner of our popular sunflower growing competition.

5 year-old Lucy Randall’s sunflower grew to an incredible 4.48 metres – that’s taller than a double decker bus!

Asked how she managed to grow to the monster plant, Lucy said that after planting the sunflower seeds in pots using compost from Otter, she put them at the front of the house where there was plenty of sunshine. “When the shoots started coming through, we cut up some old water bottles to protect them.”

Lucy’s journey in nurturing her sunflower wasn’t without its challenges, as she faced setbacks with a few of her plants. “We lost one, another fell over and the wind blew the top off one!”

But there was one plant that started doing really well, and soon stood head and shoulders above the others.

Lucy’s dad, Iain, explained: “As it grew taller, we staked it with a 6 ft bamboo cane. Then we progressed to 8 ft – but by the end we were using three canes lashed together. I had to climb on the roof of our car to tie the cane to the sunflower.”

We gave away 500 packets of seeds to children wanting to take part in the competition and earlier in September we asked participants to send photographs of their sunflowers to our marketing team. Although there were many impressive entries, the winner was immediately obvious.

Our MD, Jacqui Taylor said: “Lucy’s sunflower was by far and away the tallest entry. It really captured the spirit of the competition, and we are all in awe of her gardening skills!”

Jacqui also commended Lucy’s creative approach to protecting the young plants. “Lucy’s resourcefulness in using recycled water bottles to protect the sunflowers during their early stages is a wonderful example of sustainable gardening practices that we can all learn from.”

Lucy came to the Ottery garden centre with her dad and mum Chloe to collect her prize; a £20 gift card, her winner’s certificate, plus a voucher for a free drink and cake in the coffee shop. And as a thank you to all the participants, every child who entered the competition will receive a voucher for a free drink and cake.

Well done to everyone who took part!