Ready, steady, grow! We might be just recovering from one of the worst spells of snow in years, but it’s time to start thinking about the summer.
Today we’re launching our annual Sunflower Challenge, when youngsters put their green fingers to the test to grow the biggest blooms.
Every year, gardens, allotments and back yards are turned into battlegrounds for the bid to be the best.
The challenge, open to children aged 16 and under, is being run, as usual, in association with Alnwick in Bloom, which has provided the seeds.
Packets of free seeds can be collected now from five outlets in Alnwick – Wagon Way Post Office, the library on Green Batt, the Wool Shop and Kiddies Kabin, both on The Shambles, and Northumbria Pets on Bondgate Within.
Start them off in pots, tuck them away from the frost, keep them dampish and plant out the best of them just as summer arrives.
Then, with a little TLC, stand back and watch them grow.
The judges will be out with their tape measures at the end of August to size up the skyscraping sunflowers.
First prize is £30, second £20 and third £10. There are also six runners-up prizes of £5.
Elizabeth Jones, from Alnwick in Bloom, said: “We had masses of entrants last year and would like even more – especially as it can mean turning up at Belford or dropping into Red Row. Have wheels, will measure!”
Last year’s sunflower challenge was won by Frances and Catherine Molineux, whose sunflowers, at Church Terrace, Shilbottle, reached a towering 10ft 5in.