Wed, Dec 27, 2023 10:00 AM

Growing nature's guardians


Paula Hulburt

Young Marlborough gardeners have been showcasing their growing skills, scooping two national awards in a sunflower growing competition.

In Marlborough, 309 children from Marlborough’s Kindergarten Association took part in the annual Daltons Sunflowers project.

Both Mayfield and Witherlea Kindergartens won categories, taking home first places in the Tallest Sunflower and Widest Sunflower categories.

Over the past four months, 13,795 youngsters from 277 kindergartens across the country took part in the friendly competition.

The winner of the Widest Sunflower Head was won by Witherlea Kindergarten with a diameter of 11.5 cm.

Budding gardeners have taken out the prize for the widest sunflower head two years in a row and won tallest sunflower in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Teacher Cynthia Rangi says it’s great to see the children involved in the whole process.

“The Daltons Sunflowers in Kindy competition has been part of the Witherlea Kindergarten kaupapa since its infancy and our Kindergarten has won a prize every time.

“It makes us super proud to win the widest sunflower head this year.

“The children are involved in the whole process, from planting the seeds, repotting the seedlings, and then taking them home to plant in their garden.”

Green thumbs: Children at Witherlea Kindergarten took first place for the Widest Sunflower Head. Photo: Supplied.

The winner of the Tallest Sunflower in the Marlborough Kindergarten Association’s region was Mayfield Kindergarten, with their sunflower plant measuring in at 150 cm.

Teacher, Natasha Rangitihi says the competition encourages children to care for their environment and take on the role as guardians.

“Once again, it’s been such an awesome introduction for our wonderful Tamariki to taking on the role of kaitiaki of their natural environment.

“We experienced some challenging weather, but all the hard work was worth it. Thank you, Daltons, for providing this wonderful, engaging, and enjoyable experience.”

This biennial project aims to help children acquire basic gardening skills and also develop a deeper understanding of plant life.

Harry Falconer, 4, at Witherlea Kindergarten won the Best Little Gardener award. Photo: Supplied.

Every kindergarten that participated in the contest grew the same sunflower variety, King Seeds ‘Skyscraper’ sunflowers, which can grow over 4 metres tall.

Passing on his congratulations, Daltons General Manager Colin Parker says everyone did an amazing job.

“Special thanks also to all the wonderful teachers - your guidance and support for the Tamariki throughout this project has helped us spread a love of gardening to the next generation of gardeners nationwide.”

All the regional winners will receive a prize from Daltons, The Warehouse and GARDENA for the Tallest Sunflower and Widest Sunflower Head Awards.

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