An avid gardener thought he had grown a gigantic parsnip worthy of the record books after the leaves towered over him at more than 7ft.
But when green-fingered Don Dover, 86, tugged it out of the ground in front of waiting family members, he was astounded to find that the root vegetable was no longer than seven inches in length – and that all the plant’s growing effort had gone into the foliage.
Thecrowds gathered in the Dovers’ beautiful back garden in Grenville Road, Aylesbury for the great unveiling, but the vegetable’s tiddly size led Don’s wife Christine, 80, to exclaim: “What a whizzle!”
Parsnips are not traditionally harvested until autumn, but Don’s family were so intrigued to see what lay beneath the soil that they persuaded him to dig it up early. When the true size of the root vegetable was revealed, retired BT engineer Don joked: “I wish I hadn’t bothered now!”
The pensioner planted the seeds from a Wilkinson packet back in April, but was amazed when one of the plants grew into a 7ft monster.
Christine, who married Don at the age of 16 in 1955, said: “He’s loved gardening ever since I’ve known him. He hates it when it rains, he gets so bored sat inside.”
The back-garden allotment is lovingly cultivated and is bursting with the fruits – and vegetables – of Don’s labour.
Runner beans, rhubarb, onions, potatoes, peas and blackberries are just some of the home-grown delights, and Christine often makes jars of homemade jams with the glut of soft fruits in summer.
Even though his efforts have not produced any Guinness World Record-worthy entries this year, Don is still content to potter around his very own back-garden paradise.
He said: “I don’t know about paradise – every night I go to bed, I’m shattered!”