A green-fingered toddler from Keswick has won a category of the UK-wide competition The Big Sunflower Project 2020.
Three-year-old Max Inglis, who lives at Burns on the outskirts of Keswick, topped the 12 and under section with his giant sunflower he named “Woody”, which measured-in at 3 metres 12 centimetres (over 10 feet) high.
Max wasn’t the only Keswick gardener to share in the nationwide awards, as second place went to the three-metre-tall sunflower grown by Joan Clark and her granddaughters Neve and Liz. I
n third place was the sunflower planted by Autumn Canham, from Barry in Wales, which grew to 286 centimetres.
At the start of lockdown in March, local people were urged to join in with the Great Keswick Sunflower Summer of 2020, an event organised on Facebook as part of the nationwide competition.
In the adult section of the national competition, Jim Armstrong, 80, from Blencathra Street, was second with his 240cm-tall sunflower.
First place was awarded to Lucy Felton Bush from Hertfordshire at 253cm, with third going to the 228cm-high specimen grown by Matt Jeffers, also from Barry in Wales
Keswick got a special mention in the national competition as being one of two hotspots for sunflower growers in the UK, along with Barry in Wales.
Co-ordinator Ben Challis and his team including Louise Dunn, Claire Peat and Alan Dunn were praised for organising the Great Keswick Sunflower Summer of 2020 on Facebook.
Sally Freeman, from The Big Sunflower Project 2020, said: “You lot are amazing and gave joy to hundreds – be very proud of yourselves for your kindness and co-ordination.
“I have liked the friendly banter there has been between these two very special towns and I hope in years to come there will still be sunflowers in August in all the gardens.
“It’s hard to know how many people were actually involved but we sent out over 50,000 seeds. I hope that many people have enjoyed gardening for the first time and the joy of seeing a plant grow.
Members of the Keswick group included all ages from children like Max to a number of committed gardeners at the Millfield Care Home in Penrith Road.
Over the weeks since lockdown began they have posted pictures on the local Facebook page of their fledgling seedlings and exchanged plant pots, bamboo canes, seeds, names and top tips.
Louise Dunn said: “What started as a bit of fun to cheer people up at the start of lockdown has really grown – a bit like the sunflowers. People stayed in touch via social media and swapped stories and hint and tips. Many even named their sunflowers.”
Local prizes were also awarded not only the largest flowers but also for the best name and the most tragic flower, as some growers experienced a few issues with the weather and very hungry caterpillars.
The full list of Keswick winners is:
Tallest flower (under 12s): 1 Max Crozier and mum Alison, 312cm; 2 and 3 Joan Clark and granddaughters Neve and Liv, 300cm and 264 cm respectively; 4 Diana and Freddie Strong, 224cm.
Tallest flower (adults): 1 Jim Armstrong, 240cm; 2 Louise Dunn, ‘Piglet’ 226cm; 3 Peter Redfearn, 224cm.
Chunkiest stem: 1 Peter Redfearn, girth 10.2 cm; 2 Nic Page, 8.9cm; joint 3 Joan Clark, with Neve’s flower and 4 Kathleen Proctor, 8.5cm
Biggest flower Head: 1 Peter Redfearn with 23cm petal-to-petal.
Judges’ Special Prize for group effort: everyone at Millfield Care Home
Most tragic flower: Jo Jones’ heart-wrenching story of Fang and his many upsets, resulting in his sad early demise.
Best name: Freddie and Diana Strong with “Weeping Derek”
Best weed: Louise Dunn’s “Birdey”, seeded by a passing bird.
Best multi-headed flower: Alison Teasdale Lamb’s 10-budded stem.