Smiles bloom at Bay kindergarten

Phoenix Chapman and his winning seedling. Supplied photos.

Big blooming smiles were witnessed at two lucky kindergartens on Tuesday, who were each announced as winners in the Daltons Late Bloomers Awards.

The awards are part of the popular Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project and recognise kindergartens whose sunflower plants may have been affected by adverse conditions, such as the weather, or weren't in bloom in December at the end of the main Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project.

The Late Bloomers Awards competition ran from Monday December 11 2017 until Thursday February 8 2018 to allow the remaining sunflower plants time to bloom during the summer holidays.

The two winning kindergartens have been awarded the Late Bloomers Tallest Sunflower and Widest Sunflower Head awards, much to the delight of the children and their teachers.

“Some kindergarten regions need a little more time for their sunflowers to bloom,” says Daltons general manager, Colin Parker.

He says for the children, seeing the final height of the plants they have grown and the opening of the actual flower is a much-anticipated part of growing these giant Kings Seeds Skyscraper sunflowers.

“The Late Bloomers Awards ensure they don't miss out and get the opportunity to enter their sunflower, even if it has bloomed a little later.

“We are always so impressed with the children's (and teachers) dedication to their sunflowers, even when the going gets tough. Congratulations to our winners and thank you to all who entered and we hope they enjoyed being part of the 2017/2018 project.”

Phoenix Champan's father measures the sunflower.

Waihi Kindergarten, part of Inspired Kindergartens and Home Based Education, took out the Late Bloomers Tallest Sunflower award with their sunflower plant measuring in at a huge 3.28 metres – the tallest ever grown in the competition.

“We were all so excited about how much the sunflower grew over the holidays,” says head teacher, Kate Mullaney.

“Although the sunflower bloomed when the children weren't here, they were absolutely amazed at how tall the sunflower was when they got back.

“Four-year-old Phoenix Chapman, who initially planted the seed commented ‘whoa, I never knew a flower could grow that big!”.

“We are so thankful to Dalton's for giving the children the opportunity to participate in this learning experience to sow a tiny seed, nurture the seedling, watch it grow and then bloom.

“What more authentic learning could you have to experience the wonder of nature, maths, science and lots of aroha.”

Central Kids Te Kuiti Kindergarten, part of Central Kids Kindergartens Association, won the Late Bloomers Widest Sunflower Head award which was taken out by Koda Harris, who grew a 47cm wide sunflower head.

“The family who nurtured this fine sunflower specimen, especially over the hot summer holiday break, deserve huge praise and accolades for their persistence in providing the greatest conditions and love resulting in a winning, grinning head,” says head teacher, Marianne Quinn.

“Thank you to Daltons for enabling this challenge for our children to learn about environmental care and beauty, understanding the world of nature and nurture, and to experience excitement and surprise in what their efforts can present.”

Koda's mother, Deanna Walmsley, says the flower was impressive.

“I chopped the sunflower down at the base and took it into the kindy for all the children to enjoy – it was really heavy.

“I'm a farm girl and I must say by the time I got into kindy I was surely glad to put it down. At a guess, I would say the whole plant weighed around 10-12 kilos.”

The winning kindergartens will receive a Daltons prize pack with a range of products they can use in their gardens, plus a framed photo of their stunning sunflowers.

Koda Harris with the Wildest Sunflower Head.



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Sunset turning the water pink. Photo: Lee Badham.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz