A ten-year-old girl has claimed bragging rights over her grandparents after growing an enormous sunflower which is thought to be nearly 12ft tall.

Olivia Stevens is less than half the size of the plant, which sits proudly in her grandparents’ garden in Cressing Road, Braintree.

She planted the sunflower some six months ago and has seen it grow head and shoulders above anything else in the garden.

Grandparents Sue, 71, and Vince Horsman, 70, have been responsible for nurturing the plant throughout the summer and say they are amazed by its enormous size.

Sue said: “We started growing it back in the February half-term.

“We bought a packet of nine sunflower seeds and planted three each.

“All of Olivia’s have survived but a couple of mine and Vince’s died.

“The ones that did survive have only grown around 3ft but all of Olivia’s have just rocketed and are doing really well.

“But there’s one which has done so well that we think it is about 12 foot tall – it’s huge.

“The best view of it is probably over in Chelmer Road because it’s so tall.”

Sue, who is a keen gardener, has been largely responsible for looking after the sunflower after admitting husband Vince has an unfortunate habit of “causing damage” in the garden.

She admits she has no idea what the secret behind the giant sunflower is, but says her granddaughter has developed a happy knack of successfully growing things in the garden.

Sue said: “Olivia certainly has green fingers.

“She seems to have the magic touch when it comes to gardening because she planted an oak tree three years ago which is doing really well.

“It’s hard to say why the sunflower has done so well.

“It’s so big now we’ve had to tie it to the gutter. We’re a bit worried it might cause a bit of damage because the flower is so big.

“We’ve grown sunflowers before, but never had them go this tall.

“It might be it has the best spot in the garden which has the most sun.

“But otherwise I can’t work out why it’s so much bigger than the rest because I’ve been watering it the same amount as all the others.”

Olivia added: “I trust my grandparents to look after the sunflower just the same way they look after me. I’m really pleased it’s grown so tall, but now I’ll have to grow an even bigger one next year.”