sunflowers

Sunflowers 2023

HBUF is all about providing a green space in the Swindon suburbs where people can get closer to nature. We were all moved by what was happening in Ukraine. We are not a political organisation, but we are all for bringing the community together for the good of all, and our sense of community doesn’t stop at the edge of Gorse Hill or Pinehurst.

In the summer of 2022, local people came together at HBUF to plant sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. After planting their own seeds at home, people brought their young plants to create a display in our new Miyawaki forest area.

Group of about a dozen volunteers planting sunflowers on a bright sunny day. They are in a fenced-off area with young fruit trees. In the background is a wildflower meadow and forest.
Some of the volunteers in 2022

The event was a huge success. Not only did we bring together a large group of people for our own small act of solidarity, the sunflowers provided us with a glorious show of colour through the summer months.

We have spoken to so many people about how much they loved the sunflowers and, with the war still going on, we are doing it again this year.

If you would like to take part then grab your seeds and get planting. We will be coming together in the first week of June to plant them. If you’d like some seeds then get in touch, we have lots! If you spot Andy out and about he’s probably got some in his pocket for you…

Below, you can see some of our flowers from last year. Alongside the regular sunflowers that we are all familiar with we planted some heritage varieties, so there are some striking and unusual flowers in there, from Teddy Bears to Velvet Queens!

Here at Hreod Burna Urban Forest we may not be able to do any campaigning, but we can bring the community together in a small act of solidarity. And we’re really bloody good at planting things.

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Our Sunflowers are in…

HBUF is all about providing a green space in the Swindon suburbs where people can get closer to nature. We are not a political organisation. But we are all about community. We are all about coming together for the good of all.

When we come here to plant trees or mow the grass or keep the brambles under control we’re not doing it just for us, but for everyone who comes to visit, hundreds, maybe thousands of people, most of them complete strangers out to walk their dogs or take their kids on an adventure.

But our sense of community doesn’t stop at the edge of Gorse Hill or Pinehurst.

On Saturday 28th May, 2022, local people came together to plant sunflowers that they had been growing at home. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine.

We’ve all been moved by what is happening in Ukraine. We’ve seen the outpouring of support for its people right across the UK. Here in Swindon some people have opened their homes while others like Kate, one of our volunteers, have made them welcome by collecting donations of clothes and other essentials.

small sunflower plants, freshly planted, some supported by bamboo canes
A close up of some of our new arrivals

Here at Hreod Burna Urban Forest we may not be able to do any campaigning, but we can bring the community together in a small act of solidarity. And we’re really bloody good at planting things. So when I found out that the sunflower was the national flower of Ukraine this seemed like the obvious thing for us to do.

We couldn’t do any of this without our lovely volunteers, who came together with their sunflowers to create our display. We planted between 150-200 plants. There’s a mix of heritage varieties in there, in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, from Teddy Bears to Velvet Queens, so should be quite a show!

We’ll keep you updated as the sunflowers (we hope!) grow and flower, but feel free to come and admire them in person!

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Sunflower Planting

At HBUF we’re not just about trees. Each year the flowers dotted around the forest and in our wildflower meadow bring a bit more colour and beauty into our strolls through the fields and trees.

Last year we came together to plant more than a hundred sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. As well as being gorgeous, the birds and bees will love them, and they made a wonderful sight throughout the summer months.

After a fantastically successful first year, which has attracted such a lot of positive feedback, and with the war still going on in Ukraine, we have decided to do it again this year, and we’d like you to be a part of it.

We want you to help by growing your own seedlings and bringing them to become part of our sunflower garden when are ready to plant-out. We have some simple advice on how to grow them here.

Join us at the Miyawaki Forest from 1pm. If you don’t have your own sunflowers, don’t despair, you can still join in – we have plenty of extra plants we need help with!

No special equipment required, we’ll have forks and spades handy, though a trowel or hand fork might be useful.

Planting is simple enough, a small hole to transfer your plant into, along with the soil it’s currently in, then a bit of a water to help it along. If you’re feeling strong, you can help us ferry water from the brook.

If you’re driving, be aware that the Southbrook Playing Fields car park isn’t under our control and may not be open, but we’re a short walk from any of the local Pinehurst and Gorse Hill streets.

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Flower Power

At HBUF we’re not just about trees. Each year the flowers dotted around the forest and in our wildflower meadow bring a bit more colour and beauty into our strolls through the fields and trees.

This year we are doing something a bit special, and we’d like you to be a part of it.

We are hoping to plant a hundred sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. As well as being gorgeous, the birds and bees will love them, and they should make a wonderful sight during the summer months.

We want you to help by growing your own seedlings and bringing them to become part of our sunflower garden when are ready to plant-out. We have some simple advice on how to grow them here.

We’ll be planting them on the last Saturday in May, the 28th, at 2pm, in the Miyawaki forest enclosure.

If you are part of a youth or community group, we can help you get started with some seeds and growing materials – all you need to find is some soil and something to plant them in (anything that holds dirt!). Get in touch via our contact page to find out more.

If you are concerned about the situation in Ukraine and want guidance on things you can do to make a real difference, take a look at the advice from Swindon City of Sanctuary, or checkout the council’s page on supporting refugees arriving from Ukraine.

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How to Grow Sunflowers

First, get your seeds!

You can get a packet of sunflower seeds from your local garden centre or some supermarkets or online.

There are lots of different varieties. HBUF has a mix of heritage varieties that we’ll be trying, a mix of different shapes and colours (who knew, not all sunflowers are yellow?!)

Sunflower Seeds

Pot them up

Fill a pot with peat-free compost to within 2cm of the top and water well. If you don’t have a flower pot then you can always use another container, so long as you don’t mind getting it dirty.

Place 1 or 2 seeds well apart in the pot but not too near the edge, press gently in and cover with 1cm compost. If you can stick a clear plastic bag over the top, it will be like a mini greenhouse.

If you’re doing this at home with your family, why not use a label or a lolly stick to record the name of the person who planted it?

Find a good spot

Place the pot in a warm light place, out of direct sunlight. This could be a windowsill or any other bright spot. Keep the compost slightly moist, don’t let it dry out!

You should see a shoot within a week or two. If you put a cover over your pot you can take it off now. Rotate the pot once a day to stop the seedlings bending over.

Bring them to HBUF to be a part of our sunflower garden!

A couple of weeks before you’re going to plant your sunflowers out, it’s best to harden them off (get them used to being outdoors). Start taking the pots outside during the day and bringing them back inside at night.

Lookout for the dates and times for our planting-out sessions. You’ll find them here on hbuf.org or on our Facebook page when the dates are finalised (subject to the weather).

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