Retired schoolteacher Chris Kilford does not associate with the tall poppy knocking brigade but he is finding it impossible to avoid tall sunflower syndrome.

That's because the keen Masterton gardener has surprised himself and all others who have laid eyes upon his first ever attempt to grow sunflowers by producing a specimen that just keeps reaching for the sky.

So successfully in fact that the first of the four or so plants he popped into his garden reached four metres before flowering and its siblings threaten to reach even greater heights.

Mr Kilford said he planted the sunflowers simply because in his long association with home gardening he had never done so before " it was just for the challenge".

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The seeds certainly took up the challenge, aided and abetted by a rich mix of composted household waste and mushroom compost.

"My motto is if you give to the soil, it will give back," he said.

Although he stands 1.83m (six feet), Mr Kilford needs a ladder to get high enough to, metaphorically speaking, smell the roses.