Sunflower Challenge is on!

May 10, 2016

Ferne Animal Sanctuary has thrown down the gauntlet to Primary School children within a 40-mile radius of Chard to see just how green their fingers are by growing the tallest sunflower.

To help them on their way, Otter Nurseries are generously providing Ferne with free packets of sunflower seeds to give away to schools who’d like to take part.

“All you have to do to get started is get in touch with the Sanctuary and arrange to collect your free seed packets” said Elaine Hayes, Chief Executive of Ferne. “After that, it’s over to you to sow your sunflower seeds and nurture them through until the end of the summer term.  Hopefully by then you will have towering plants!”

When you’ve got the tallest plant in your class or school, we’d like you to photograph and measure it and send in the winning photo and measurements to Ferne by the 1st of August.  The winner will receive a free annual family pass for Ferne, so they can come along anytime and enjoy our walks, wildlife and delicious treats in the café.

As an added bonus, no matter how tall or small your plant is, if you bring it along in person to the Sanctuary, you can see for yourself how it encourages the birds to forage for food in the aviary as they would in their natural habitat.

Otter Nurseries Marketing Manager, Sabine Taylor said: “We are always keen to encourage the younger generation to start growing, and sunflowers are such a favourite with even the youngest gardeners, as they can give such spectacular results.

“We are delighted to support Ferne Animal Sanctuary in this way, and hope the animals enjoy all the sunflower seeds later in the year.”

Although sunflowers aren’t native to the UK, they’ve become quite an iconic vision of summer thanks to their flamboyant appearance.  They are also a firm favourite for our aviary residents as they provide a very tasty snack!

Top tips to help you on your way…

  • Sunflowers need full sun and are heavy feeders
  • Big pots are good as they have long taproots
  • Water and feed regularly, but don’t pour directly onto roots
  • Tell them your best jokes and sing them your favourite songs

If you’d like to take part and get your free seed packets, phone Ferne on 01460 65214 or email us on