Hardwick’s challenge for green-fingered kids

Pictured is Laura Milnes, visitor reception assistant at the Hardwick Experience, which is inviting kids to take part in a competition.
Pictured is Laura Milnes, visitor reception assistant at the Hardwick Experience, which is inviting kids to take part in a competition.

The NATIONAL Trust’s Hardwick Experience is inviting green-fingered children to don their gardening gloves and take part in their Spring Sunflower Growing competition.

Prizes will be given for the tallest sunflower and most imaginative pot used in each of the two age categories.

The competition, hosted by Hardwick Hall Estate, at Doe Lea, Chesterfield, is designed to encourage children to Get Back To Nature by discovering the joy of gardening.

It celebrates the launch of the Hardwick Experience, which opened on April 2 and encompasses the £6.5m Stableyard development.

It includes a herb garden as well as a plant shop and the Great Barn Restaurant, both of which feature plants, herbs and vegetables grown on the estate.

During April and May, youngsters visiting the Hardwick Experience with their parents will be given a free packet of sunflower seeds to take home and grow.

They will have to choose a pot for their plant – the more imaginative the better – then care for their sunflower, remembering to water it regularly.

Then, once their sunflower has grown nice and tall, they will need to take a picture of themselves measuring their plant, making sure the pot is clearly visible and return it with a completed entry form by Friday, August 17. The competition is divided into two age categories for youngsters aged five and under and those aged six to 12.

The winners’ presentation will take at place 1.30pm, on Sunday, August 26. Prizes include Sophie Conran Garden Games Buckets featuring 10 outdoor games for the six to 12 year-old category winners and Very Hungry Caterpillar Stool and Garden Tool sets for the under-fives.

As well as the prize giving ceremony there will be a wealth of family activities also taking place throughout the day including natural craft and den building sessions.

Marie Purdy, Senior Gardener at the Hardwick Experience, said: “Sunflowers are magical flowers that brighten any garden and because they are easy to grow are the perfect flowers to introduce children to the joys of gardening.

“The world record for the tallest sunflower is 8.4m so it would be great if we got some flowers to challenge that. But if their sunflowers don’t grow that tall, children shouldn’t be disheartened. We are also looking for the most imaginative pot, so they could choose to plant their sunflower in a welly, a teapot or simply decorate a plant pot.”

The Hardwick Experience offers a wealth of activities for younger visitors and their families throughout the year, including back to nature activities on Go Wild! Family Fundays, family fun and activities at the Big Lunch on June 3 and exciting things to do in the stableyard throughout the summer holidays.

Denise Edwards, Hardwick’s general manager, said: “The Hardwick Experience offers a broader range of activities than ever before, including the chance to learn more about plants, vegetables and gardening.

“I hope that children will take the opportunity to Get back to nature, explore our new stableyard complex and of course enter the competition.”

The Hardwick Estate is owned and managed by the National Trust. Set in the breathtaking Peak District national park, its stunning Elizabethan houses and beautiful landscape make it one of Derbyshire’s top tourist attractions. It was built by Elizabeth Shrewsbury, better known as Bess of Hardwick, one of Britain’s most compelling historical figures. The Hardwick Experience will be open to visitors 364 days per year.