While he did not actively try to do it, Ferndale resident Michael Purdy grew a sunflower more than 20 feet in height.

While he did not actively try to do it, Ferndale resident Michael Purdy grew a sunflower more than 20 feet in height.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Ferndale man’s 20-foot sunflower shines on neighborhood block

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 11, 2018

 The sunflower grown by Purdy towers over his yard and has attracted quite a bit of attention from residents and passers-by.

The sunflower grown by Purdy towers over his yard and has attracted quite a bit of attention from residents and passers-by.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FERNDALE — If you happen to be walking in Ferndale at the intersection of Paxton and Academy streets, your attention might be grabbed by the sight of a towering plant in the yard of one man’s home.

That man is Michael Purdy, and the towering plant is a sunflower that has grown to more than 20 feet in height.

Purdy started working on his plants in May, but he said he had no intention of growing a flower this size.

“It just bloomed all of a sudden and started growing, and I figured I’d let it grow,” he said. “I didn’t realize it’d get that big.”

Purdy said all of his flowers bloom at the same time, so he never knows which ones will get to be big. While he also has a patch of flowers in his front yard, he said there was something special about this patch of land that cultivated this sunflower.

“This is just special for some reason, and it got really large, and I noticed it started getting really big,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just let it go and see what happens,’ and it just kept growing and growing and growing.”

“I didn’t even do anything special to it. I don’t use fertilizer in my yard for anything. It just kind of grew on its own. I didn’t do anything special to it. It just decided that that corner was super fertile and took off.”

Purdy, an 11-year resident of Ferndale, said it took the flower about four or five months to bloom before doing so only a couple of weeks ago. While he hasn’t measured the sunflower itself, he estimates its size as over 20 feet.

“When I stand next to it, it’s more than triple my height, and I’m 6 foot,” he said.

Robbin Yelverton, chair of the Ferndale Beautification Commission and owner of Blumz by JRDesigns, said his first impression upon seeing the sunflower was a simple “wow.”

“I’m not a very tall person … but standing next to that thing is rather impressive,” he said. “It’s very eye-catching”

Yelverton said that while he’s seen some flowers grow to tall heights out in fields, he’s never seen a flower this size grow in the yard of a house.

“This one has gotten quite large. You can see it, literally, from almost a block away,” he said.

“We may have to go back and add another award and identify and recognize some of these sunflower growers, because they’re really looking awesome, and I can’t imagine anyone not liking it,” Yelverton said.

The sunflower certainly has grabbed the attention of residents, according to Purdy, as he’s had many people stop by to take pictures with the plant.

“People stop by all day long. I work nights, so I’m out in the yard screwing around. I’ll get five people a day, at least, (who) stop by. A lot of people have taken selfies with it, like putting their hand around the stalk, because the stalk is a tree,” he said.

Those people might want to get their picture with the flower while they can, as Purdy said it’s probably hit its peak and the flowers will start to fade.

“The flowers last about a week or two, and then they start dying,” he said.