Gert Big Sunflower Awards in Knowle West

Residents invited to nominate local sunflower growers

Main image of artist Claudia Collins. Picture supplied by Claudia.

The sunflower awards are coming to Knowle West to celebrate the spread of happiness across the area from these lofty plants – and it’s time to nominate a grower (or yourself).

Winners will receive a Gert Big Sunflower Award poster to proudly display in their window – and to show they have taken part. They are also asked to take photos of their sunflowers if they can – and all heights qualify.

The awards scheme is being run by artist Claudia Collins who works on Creative Engagement for Filwood Fantastic based at Filwood Community Centre.

The scheme was initially part of Knowle West Wishes – a creative project started during the pandemic, made by and for Knowle Westers, that “focuses on hopes and dreams for the future”.

The awards were also inspired by the online Facebook group Gardening Friends of Filwood – run by resident Don Jones, who started it during lockdown to share growing tips. The sunflower seeds have been supplied by gardener Steve Griffiths who works at Filwood Community Centre.

Artist Claudia Collins with community gardener Don Jones at Filwood Market. Picture Lisa Cole.

Claudia explains: “Back in May as part of the Knowle West Wishes project, sunflower seeds from the Gardening Friends of Filwood were given out to the community.

“Don, Charles and the gardening crew planted lots around the Broadway at the Market on international guerilla Sunflower Planting day. Redcatch Community Garden had packs too and have many beautiful flowers growing in the garden.

“The seeds came from Steve’s sunflowers the year before. I love that from one flower so many more can grow. Happiness spreads! Growing something can really help with mental health as it can give you a focus and helps you to notice the little things. It’s also great everyone can enjoy them too.

“Sunflowers symbolise positivity, hope and strength – just what we all need coming out of the pandemic.” 

Gardener Don Jones said: “Claudia approached us and asked members of the group to distribute the seeds around the community and encourage people to grow them.

“The group also met on a Sunday for an hour in May and sowed loads of seeds on Filwood Broadway which are now beginning to flower. It was a unifying act and brought groups of people together to show what was achievable..

“I’m a great believer we can have a nice environment and grow our own flowers which will in turn encourage other people…”

He said now people across the community were sharing their sunflower photos on the Gardening Friends of Filwood Facebook page – and it had brought residents together.

Sunflowers planted on Filwood Broadway. Picture Gail Bevan.

The Gert Big Sunflower Awards are being supported by Filwood Fantastic, Redcatch Community Garden and Brislexic.

*The current record for the tallest sunflower in Britain is held by Richard Hope, of Wigan who grew a whopping 26-foot tall plant in 2012 – but local people are not expected to match this feat.

To nominate yourself or a grower for a Gert Big Sunflower Award to display in your window