Think you can grow the biggest bloom this year?

Join the 2017 Sunflower Challenge.
Join the 2017 Sunflower Challenge.
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On your marks, get set, grow!

The Gazette’s 2017 Sunflower Challenge is launched today and we’re hoping for some real giants this year.

Last years challenge winner Emilia Bowden with her giant blooms.

Last years challenge winner Emilia Bowden with her giant blooms.

The challenge, open to children aged 16 and under, is a chance for green-fingered youngsters to put their gardening skills to the test and produce some skyscraping sunflowers.

It is being run in association with Alnwick in Bloom, which has provided the seeds. Packets of free seeds can be collected from four outlets in Alnwick – the library; Northumbria Pets, on Bondgate Within; Mojo Toys and Gifts, on Fenkle Street; and Wagonway Road Post Office.

The sunflower seeds can be planted in small pots indoors and given warmth and light. Towards the beginning of May, they can then be planted outside. Or they can be planted outdoors where they are to flower.

When your sunflower is fully grown and in bloom, take its picture and send it to Janet Hall, Northumberland Gazette, 32 Bondgate Without, Alnwick NE66 1PN, or email janet.hall@jpress.co.uk with your name, age, address, contact details and sunflower measurement by August 26.

The Alnwick in Bloom judges will be out to measure the sunflowers around the end of August, or later depending on the weather.

The winner will receive a £25 voucher, second £15 and third £10. Five runners-up will each get a £5 voucher.

Last year’s winner was two-year-old Emilia Bowden, who grew an 11ft 4.5in whopper.

Meanwhile, Alnwick in Bloom is appealing for volunteers to help with its gardening programmes throughout the town, as well as the popular competitions it runs every year. Anyone interested can email bloom@qtq.org or ring Eileen on 01665 606233.