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Towering sunflower began as ‘science experiment’

The sun was hidden behind a cloak of gray clouds Friday morning, but the towering sunflower that has now grown to more that a dozen feet high in front of a house on Ruth Street seemed, at least along that stretch of asphalt, to replace its glow.

“I wish I could have had seven or eight flowers out here,” said Pat Reese, whose yard is now home to the enormous flower.

According to Reese, the impetus for the now-mighty sunflower was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had Alabama children homebound by mid-March.

Reese’s grandchildren, who attend school in Birmingham, were spending time at her house when she decided they needed to be productive.

“I wanted to put them outside and let them play in the dirt,” Reese said.

She approached her 10-year-old granddaughter with an idea for a “science experiment” – with her grandmother’s help, the little girl planted a score of flowers in the small garden that wraps round the front of Reese’s home.

Of all the flowers she planted in April, the sunflower is the only that grew.

Reese noted that this isn’t her granddaughter’s first attempt at growing flowers – a student in the Head Start program, Reese said the little girl was tasked with growing a flower every year.

According to Reese, none of those efforts were successful either.

“But here she is,” Reese said admiring the flower. “She succeeded.”

Reese is a Selma native who has worked as a pre-kindergarten teacher in Autauga County for the last 15 years.

According to Guinness World Records, the tallest sunflower ever grown measured just over 30 feet and was grown in Germany, as confirmed in August 2014.

Gazing at Reese’s flower, one notices that there are at least four blooms that have not yet opened, indicating that the flower may yet have more growing to do.

“It might make it,” Reese said admiring the plant. “It’s still growing.”