The race is on to find the next sunflower champion

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Budding young gardeners and those with a passion for growing are wanted to join this year’s Northumberland Gazette sunflower challenge.

Over the last few years, hundreds of youngsters, under the age of 16, have taken part in our competition to grow the tallest bloom in north Northumberland.

And with the late onset of spring, there is still time to get the competition going.

Giant Russian sunflower seeds will be available from the Gazette’s offices on Bondgate Without from the end of this week.

Gazette gardening correspondent and chairman of Alnwick in Bloom Tom Pattinson has some handy hints for those who want to get growing.

He said: “Seeds can be planted straight into the ground now and will grow from there.

“But if you still want to, you can plant the seeds indoors and move them outside later on.”

Alnwick in Bloom is again sponsoring the competition.

The growers of the three biggest sunflowers will be presented with their prizes at the annual bloom presentation night at Alnwick Garden in September.

First prize will win a £25 WHSmith voucher, second a £15 voucher and third a £10 voucher.

The competition is open to under 16s only and blooms will be judged by Tom.