All chook up! Cockerel Elvis helps grow giant sunflower

Dad Jim Douglas with Jamie,Max,Molly and Elvis the silky pose in front of their winning sunflower. P

Dad Jim Douglas with Jamie,Max,Molly and Elvis the silky pose in front of their winning sunflower. Photo by Terry Ife ref shb 6253-36-13TI To order your copy of this photo go to and clicl on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant

A FAMILY say fowl play is behind a competition-winning sunflower that has reached a towering 11ft 6in – as their secret weapon is a cockerel named Elvis.

The Douglas household’s feathered friend and his harem of hens fertilised the giant bloom – which is twice the height of an average man – with their droppings

Children Max, 10, Jamie, seven, and Molly, five, landed £100 for their school and a hamper full of goodies after triumphing in Sidmouth Garden Centre’s tallest sunflower contest.

Their 3.53 metre winning effort is only a few inches higher than two other flowers on the same plot.

Dad Jim, 43, who at 5ft 7in is dwarfed by the huge bloom, said: “We planted it in a polytunnel and as it grew we transplanted it next to the henhouse – right where the chicken manure comes out on the floor. It’s that which has helped bring them [the sunflowers] on.

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“The tallest is the biggest I’ve ever seen – and we’ve got two others that are just inches shorter.”

White silkie Elvis, who got his name as Jim and wife Emma thought he resembled the King of Rock in his Vegas days, rules the roost with six hens. The one-year-old bird can also belt out a decent song in the mornings.

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Jim’s advice to taking part in next year’s contest was fitting: “Get some chickens!”

The family, from Branscombe, will need a bigger henhouse if they want to break records.

The world’s tallest, grown in Germany, sunflower is a lofty 27ft.

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