Giant sunflower grows above Troy garden

By: Eric Czarnik | Troy Times | Published August 25, 2020

 Antonio DiCicco, of Troy, stands in his backyard next to a tall sunflower.

Antonio DiCicco, of Troy, stands in his backyard next to a tall sunflower.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Antonio DiCicco, of Troy, said his giant sunflower is about 20 feet tall.

Antonio DiCicco, of Troy, said his giant sunflower is about 20 feet tall.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

TROY — After growing up on his father’s farm in Italy and then spending several decades gardening on his own, Antonio DiCicco likes to pass the time in his home garden, making a striking sunflower take to the skies.

DiCicco, 85, said the highlight of this summer’s garden is a sunflower that he said rises about 5 feet over his home’s gutter. He estimates it to be around 20 feet tall — to compare, Guinness World Records says its record for the tallest sunflower ever was 9.17 meters, or 30 feet, 1 inch, in Germany in 2014.

DiCicco said the flower started growing in the spring, and he likes to raise tall flowers because it is “something unusual.”

“This time I got one. It’s always full bloom. It’s beautiful,” he said. “I got two more that are going to start growing up. I just like to do it once in a while because people come and say, ‘I can’t believe that is so gorgeous.’”

DiCicco said C & G Newspapers took a photo of another one of his tall sunflowers back in 1998. He explained that if he had a secret to growing sunflowers, it’s the timing of when to water them.

“I water in the morning and water late at night — twice a day,” he said. “You got to take care of them like a baby. When it’s hot, at least twice a day you got to water them.”

DiCicco said he has been gardening “all my life.” He said he was raised in Italy on a farm and at one point spent a couple of years working at a farm in Switzerland. In 1959, he said, he moved from Italy to the U.S., first taking up residence in Detroit and starting a garden there. He then recalled moving to Southfield in the 1970s, and over there he continued his passion for growing things.

“I had three cherry trees, a plum tree, four or five apple trees — everything — in Southfield,” he said. “In 1990 I moved here in Troy.”

Besides flowers, DiCicco’s current garden boasts an assortment of produce. He said his current garden still has a fig tree, and he regularly harvests tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers and potatoes.

“Tonight I did (harvest) six, seven potatoes,” he said. “It’s not too much now because I’m old.”

DiCicco’s wife, Alice, commented on her husband’s dedication to gardening.

“We’re always canning beans and everything,” she said.

Antonio said he still has about 160 jars of canned tomatoes preserved in his basement.

“I got some from 2015 yet,” he said. “Now in the fall, if I feel good, I’ll make a few more jars.”

Advertisement