Essex became a bit brighter this summer with a sudden increase in the number of tall, yellow sunflowers grown around the region. This was all in aid of the Greening Communities’ Tallest Sunflower competition, to see who could grow the tallest sunflowers by the 18 August.

The proud winner was Charis Withers from Saffron Walden. At the time of this write up, her sunflowers had reached well over 12 foot tall, and needed supports to stand up straight! When asked how she managed to get her flowers so tall, she said: “I have been talking to them every day!” Well, they were obviously listening!

Charis and the other residents of Ferguson Close, decided to spend the garden vouchers they won on an apple tree for their back garden.

The runners up still managed to reach dizzy heights of over eight foot, with Alison Clements and Ilse Hobday deserving an honourable mention.

Jimmy Faraway and Emma Abbott accidently took part in the competition when their support worker noticed they had started growing sunflowers in their yard. The judges were honoured to also get the chance to see the memorial garden these two had set up in honour of their late house mate and good friend, Ashley. What a lovely creation they have made.

For those nature lovers out there, we added another competition for customers to get involved with this year: the Most Creative Bird Feeder. The response on this competition was just as good, with many customers making this into a group effort. The top prize for this one went to Elm Tree Court for their giant multifunctional bird feeder which took residents a whole day to plan and make.

Rosie from Boxted, who takes great pride in her colourful garden, managed to get second prize for her feeder, which was modelled on a real bird, with bright pink wings!

Fifty-one of Family Mosaic’s customers in Essex entered the two competitions and most of these managed to make the celebration events in September too, where we looked at photos of all entries, gave out certificates, ate sunflower cupcakes, produced sunflower crafts and even planted some daffodil bulb pots for another splash of yellow next spring.

Prizes included garden centre vouchers so that customers could make more out of their outdoor spaces and continue the gardening fun.

Special thanks to Lynne Mitchell and Liam Atkinson for volunteering their time to be judges on this project. Liam, a resident of Hargood Close in Colchester, showed great spirit when he planted a pot of bulbs to take home for some of the other resident’s children who weren’t able to attend the event.

You can see more pictures here.

Will you have a go next year?