Reaching New Heights in Sunflower Challenge

A 255 cm sunflower, nurtured by HR team member Linda Guy, has been crowned champion in a competition to grow the tallest bloom. The challenge was initiated after the arrival of Covid-19 split the Operational HR team into two ‘bubbles’. Each member received a starter kit from two seeds (all from the same packet) a compostable pot, some compost and a label.

Keeping in touch through Whatsapp, the green-fingered team got planting. Lots of gardening knowhow and tips from grandparents were shared as pictures of pots were posted on the group chat with plastic covers, sitting on radiators, in greenhouses and on windowsills.

As the seeds grew and seedlings arrived much excitement was shared on the chat – pictures were sent and stories of triumph over the elements revealed. There were some casualties – a decapitation at the point of tightening the support led to an early exit from one competitor and a strong gust of wind put paid to another. Re-potting was a tricky time and a lesson learned for one of the group who lost her sunflower due to a lack of drainage holes.

Although some fell by the wayside others thrived in the Spring sunshine, many were named (Mary, Sandy, Brian, Hector, Ralph to name but a few) and by June large leaves were starting to appear and the centimetres were going up. The first flower was posted in early July and measuring tapes were being readied for the final count. Rules were agreed about where measurements should be taken from – to be precise from where the stem entered the soil to the top of the main flower (some people had multiple stems – who knew!).

The 8ft 4in corker grown by Linda earned her a bottle of wine and a tiny trophy. The team said they felt they were all winners because of the fun they had connecting with nature and each other, at a time of physical distancing. As a result the competition now looks set to become an annual event – we say bring it on!