Kim and Dwayne Penner swear they didn't plant sunflowers, but look what sprouted in their Freshour Road yard.
HOPEWELL — Kim Penner doesn’t remember planting any sunflower seeds.
Scratch that, she’s sure she didn’t. And as a gardening buff with a special appreciation for flowers of all sizes and colors, she would know.
“I know what I plant,” Penner said. “And I never planted that.”
So of all people who might know more about it, she has no answers on how the sunflower tree — yes, it looks like a tree — sprouted in her Freshour Road yard, just about 100 yards from the road.
Out of curiosity, Penner, who is an assistant cook at the Canandaigua Elementary School, counted up all the flowers and buds. She stopped at 138.
Surprised? Shocked is more like it.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “You see the cars slow down and the drivers do a double take. It’s funny to watch them.
“A lot of people are baffled,” she said. “They never have seen a sunflower do that.”
Penner is 5 feet and maybe a couple of inches tall, she said. Her husband, Dwayne, is 6 feet tall.
The sunflower towers over the both of them, at 8 feet tall.
Although the giant sunflower plant has no name, it could compete for a role in a sequel of “Little House of Horrors,” which is memorable for the flesh-eating venus fly-trap plant named Audrey II.
Except there are no such horrors with this plant. In fact, Penner loves it and so do the bees.
“The bees have been in their glory,” she said. “It’s beautiful against the white frame of the house.”
Russ Welser, agriculture and natural resources team leader with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, stopped by the Penner home to check it out.
Unique, yes, he said.
“But it’s not completely unusual,” Welser said. “I’ve seen similar, but not with quite as many branches with that many flowers.”
Growing conditions and genetics are how Welser describes what happened here.
“We don’t see them all that often,” Welser said.
Again, Penner said she didn’t plant it. She figures birds dropped a seed taken from a nearby birdfeeder and nature took its course from there.
Penner said she is sad to see the flower go, as fall begins and summer fades. With its passing go many of the blooms of the season — the perennial black cloud that blocks out the perennial sunflower.
She was able to clip off flowers and give them to people at work who asked. And, who knows, maybe the giant sunflower tree reappears next year at her place or at someone else’s house.
Then, the smiles will return to faces. And it won’t seem like years since the sunflower tree has been here, only yesterday. And, in further homage to George Harrison and the rest of The Beatles, that would be all right.
“Pictures are one thing,” she said. “To see it in person, it was beautiful.”
What's up with that?
Have you ever seen or heard something around here that made you stop and wonder, "What's up with that?" We have, too — and now we're hoping to provide some answers to these long-lingering questions with this column, which appears Sundays. If you have questions you need answered, either email or call Assistant Editor Mike Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.