How are your sunflowers growing?

Tena koutou everyone! I can’t quite believe it’s nearly February already – January has just flown by. The Project Sunshine sunflowers in my garden are blooming beautifully so I thought I’d share a few photos with you. We’d like to start collecting photos of other Project Sunshine sunflowers growing in people’s gardens, so please email them to us at projectsunshineaotearoa@gmail.com or share a photo or two via FB and we’ll add them to our album.

These Giant Russians are growing out the front of my house. They didn’t grow very tall as the soil quality here isn’t great, but each plant has about 5 flower heads, which makes for an awesome display:

A Monarch butterfly feeding on a Giant Russian sunflower:

The Giant Russians in my garden out the back of the house grew much better, as they were planted in good soil with lots of compost, and are now over 10 feet tall! They have huge flower heads that the bumblebees love:

Another Monarch butterfly visitor:

As well as the Giant Russians, these ‘Evening Sun’ varieties popped up (in the foreground) – from the Project Sunshine ‘red’ blend I think. They’re a stunning variety as each plant is over 7 feet tall and has more than 10 flowerheads!

Here’s a bumblebee visiting a couple of ‘Evening Sun’ sunflowers. I love how the sunflowers have slightly different petal colours:

These red sunflowers are absolutely stunning too – I think these are the ‘Moulin Rouge’ variety. Like the ‘Evening Sun’ plants, these sunflowers are also about 7 feet tall and have 8-10 flower heads on each stalk:

A beautiful dark, velvety-red sunflower.

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Sunflowers at Epuni School

A couple of weeks ago Catherine popped in to see how the sunflowers are growing in The Common Unity Project Aotearoa garden at Epuni School. Leila was working hard in the garden in very blustery weather. Despite all the Wellington wind this summer, the sunflowers still look amazing and there are many more buds to open. We put these photos up on Facebook, but thought we’d also share them here.

Beautiful flowers edging the garden:

Some of the Giant Russians in flower:

This is the centre of the mandala garden, with the bunting flapping in the wind:

Check out the size of this flower head – those are 7-year-old Olly’s hands holding it!

Some beautiful ‘Evening Sun’ flowering on the left. They have many flower heads per stem:

An Evening Sun flower in full bloom:

There are sunflowers dotted throughout the garden:

Can you spot our friend the bumble bee?

What’s the buzz

Sunshine Day at the Dowse on Sunday was so much fun! We spread our blankets under John Reynolds’ Titoki Gallery and helped visitors make sunshine necklaces, turn milk bottles into watering cans and paint seed packets. Lots of people had their faces and arms painted, coloured in our ‘how sunflowers grow’ page and drew their own bee designs on Project Sunshine stickers – then took home seeds and seedlings for a gold coin donation. You can check out more photos from the day here.

We also launched our special limited edition packs of red sunflower seeds. Each packet contains 12 red sunflower seeds – these plants grow tall like the Giant Russian variety and range from deep red to beautiful rusty-coloured petals. We’re selling these for $3 a packet, so please get in touch if you’d like some.

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We love hearing from people with updates about how their seeds are growing. Sam from Giant Pumpkins NZ shared us this awesome photo, along with his beautiful 4-legged friend in the background:

Jennifer in the Bay of Plenty has just finished planting out her sunflower seedlings – 47 in total. They’re going to look amazing once they’re fully-grown and flowering!

Our friend Shane sent us an update on the sunflowers that the Epuni School children planted at Carrara Park in Newtown. He says “Sunflowers and swan plants growing in Carrara Park, Newtown, not all survived but the ones that have are looking strong…thanks Kids and Julia Milne”

And Catherine headed along to see how the plants in Glover Park were doing – they’re just outside Radio Active in Wellington:

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Hataitai School in Wellington has set up their own Emerald Army gardening blog, and are encouraging every child in the school to “bring in their own reused planting box to grow their sunflower seedlings in – the wackier the better”. Check out their blog to see some of the awesome planters that have been brought in so far!

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten in Northland also emailed us their blog, to let us know that their “seeds are cosy in their planter box and we are patiently waiting and watering!”

Sunshine Day at the Dowse – Sunday 24 November 2013

Hello lovely sunshiney people!

Come and celebrate sunflowers, our communities and bees with us this Sunday. Our Sunshine Day is at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt from 10.00 – 11.30am.

Our Sunshine Mobile is stacked with sunflower seeds and seedlings, which will be available to take home for a gold coin donation – including our special limited edition ‘mystery seeds‘.

If you bring along an empty milk bottle, we’ll show you how to make it into a handy watering can. You can also make your own beautiful bee sticker, string together an awesome Project Sunshine necklace, colour in a sunflower page, chalk up the pavement and take part in other fun craft activities.

If the weather is lovely we will stay on longer outside under the trees with art activities, picnic blankets and maybe even some cake!

We’d love to see you on Sunday, so please come and say hi 🙂

What’s the buzz

This week we made the ultimate Sunshine Mobile by upcycling an old BBQ table (cheers Andy!) Doesn’t it look cool?! We also posted out more packets of seeds and did some event planning – see below for more info.

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Keep Sunday 24 November, 10.00-11.30am, free for our special Sunshine Day at the Dowse, in Lower Hutt. Check out our world-famous Sunshine Mobile and take home some beautiful sunflower seeds or seedlings for a gold coin donation. Make your own bee sticker, or bring along an empty milk bottle and we’ll help you turn it into a watering can. There will be lots of fun craft activities too – we hope to see you there!

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A special tena koe to Tāne this week for decorating such beautiful sunflower seed packets for us. Love your bees Tāne!

Tane packets

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Here are two letters that we received from Manurewa Central School and Paremata Kindergarten asking for packets of seeds. Thanks for such colourful letters – we’ve posted your seed packets, so hopefully they arrive soon.

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What’s the buzz

Our little farmers’ seed packets will be available at the Riverbank Market in Lower Hutt tomorrow morning (from very early ’til about lunchtime). We will also have sunflower seedlings for sale, and a limited amount of heritage tomato seedlings. All proceeds received will go towards funding a beehive at Epuni School. We’d love to see you there – come say hi!

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This week has been an awesome arty week for Project Sunshine. It’s been really wet and windy here in Wellington, so instead of spending lots of time in the garden, we’ve snuggled up inside with lovely art supplies and decorated lots of seed packets.

This morning we had visitors from Epuni Kindergarten. The gorgeous little people turned up to the library for a book reading session and saw us painting seed packets. Julia told them all about the magic sunflowers and asked them to choose a packet of seeds. They chose the rainbow packet, which they have taken back to plant at their kindergarten.

Here are some of the beautiful seed packets that the Epuni School children decorated today. Check out the clever collage!

Beautiful bright colours here too!

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This afternoon Project Sunshine was mentioned in the NZ Gardener Magazine‘s email ‘Get Growing’ newsletter. It gets emailed to lots of people around New Zealand and is full of interesting gardening tips and tricks, and advice on how to grow things like fruit and vegetables.

When the newsletter was emailed out, we started receiving lots of emails from people wanting packets of sunflower seeds. We posted out 14 envelopes this afternoon to Carterton, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Ngaruawahia, Porirua, Blenheim, Northland and Gisborne and we have many, many more to send out over the weekend!

Beautiful and bright: painting sunflower seed packets

Yesterday it was a bit windy to be outside. So instead of tending to their garden, the Project Sunshine team embraced their artistic side and set about painting lots of sunflower seed packets.

With a brush in hand, our little farmers turned into little artists and created some absolutely stunning works of art.

The theme of the day was ‘loving our bees’ and each child painted a bee on a seed packet, as well as sunflowers and hearts and anything else sunshiney that captured their imagination.

We then let the works of art dry and enjoyed looking at all the bright colours on display.

Look at all the beautiful bees! These packets are going to contain a very special sort of sunflower seed – keep watching this space to find out more…

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