The success of our community sunflowers

The sun is shining and the plants are thriving – but what about the sunflowers our community services staff started growing a few months ago?

The success of our community sunflowers

In March this year our volunteers from Oxford Health Charity arranged for seeds to be sent out to all staff in our community services directorate.

We have checked back in with a few of our staff to see how they got on and if the weather has been kind enough to produce beautiful sunflowers.

Have a look at all the wonderful sunflower and a few tomato plant images in the gallery below to brighten your day and read how some of our colleagues got on.

Lucia Winrow, deputy director for community services – Sunflower fun

Emma Leaver, service director for community nursing is very competitive and once we had decided on sending out the sunflower seeds, she was immediately suggesting that we have a competition between us to grow the tallest.

Later when the Heads of service were discussing this it was pointed out that Emma is so competitive, she is bound to win even though she knows nothing about gardening. We all agreed how frustrating this would be.

So, we decided it might be funny to swap her giant seeds with the dwarf variety and not tell her.

I was sent a batch of seeds with some letters, I purchased a packet of dwarf variety of sunflower, I steamed open the packets and exchanged the seeds by putting the dwarf variety in to the empty giant sunflower packet and sealed the packet up.

The dwarf seeds were posted out with the letter and a little postcard saying ‘May all your sunflowers grow tall and give you great joy’ to the unsuspecting Emma.

Throughout the summer we have been posting our efforts on Microsoft Teams to show how everyone is doing and every so often, we ask Emma how her flowers are growing. She said, ‘they are not very big’ and you can see all the Heads of service smirking as we all know why.

I have since told her what we did, and she has sent us a photo of her dwarf sunflowers.

Emma Leaver, service director, said: “I love that my team know me so well and that they have had a bit of a laugh about this! I am delighted that the whole project has bought such joy to staff and really grateful to the Oxford Charity support to make it happen.”

Vera Dragiyska, nursing associate trainee – a gift from a patient

My lovely sunflowers were a success. What is more interesting is the story behind the jug.

It was gifted to me by a grateful patient especially for the sunflowers. During a visit to provide leg ulcer care I told her about the seeds sent to NHS staff as a ‘Thank you’ message. For the next visit she had prepared this jug – to put the flowers in when they have blossomed. Such a thoughtful and lovely way to display them.

Emily Bishop, matron – three metres and still growing

This is the first time I’ve ever grown sunflowers, although I have to confess I have bought packs of seeds in the past but never got around to planting them! The first couple grew well and I thought to myself – ‘not a bad effort’. Then the second lot I planted seemed to explode – three metres and still growing. Even my neighbour commented on how lovely they are and they make her smile, poking over the top of our adjoining fence.

Stacey Moore, operational manager – north locality and community diabetes service – unsuccessful sunflowers but how about tomatoes

I was looking forward to having some beautiful big sunflowers in my garden, but my garden had other ideas and tomatoes were in abundance and the sunflowers failed to flower.

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Published: 7 September 2021