Although thunderstorms threaten to spoil the unseasonably hot weather, the sun won’t be driven from a field near Fordingbridge, as it opens its gates this coming weekend to welcome staycationers or families of any size onto their patch to walk among, and pick, some of the 60,000 vibrant sunflowers growing on the three-acre site.
Opening the gate beside the A338 at Bickton, Niall Smith said: “It’s like a painting from a dutch master, a vibrant palate of yellows and oranges to warm the soul: just half an hour will brighten your day.”
Up to eight different varieties, including Sunrich Orange, Suntastic Yellow, Big Smile, Ring of Fire and Ruby Eclipse can be picked by anyone who books a timed-session ticket online. It allows them to enjoy the challenge of a giant maize maze, spanning four acres with two kilometres of pathways measuring three meters in width to enable good social distancing as the puzzle seekers tread their way to the centre of the tallest maize in the county, measuring over 2.5 meters tall.
Sunflower-picking patch founders Niall’ with Suzanne Hennekens’ enlisted help from Dutch maze designer Erik Hooijmeijer as they worked out with pinpoint accuracy the exact planting specifications needed to create a fun design. As social distancing became a new challenge, it involved plotting a route that wouldn’t compromise the fun for the outdoor enthusiasts.
Patch founder Suzanne said: “It has been a determination of ours to create a positive colourful and happy environment for families staying at home this summer, to step outside and enjoy some safe outdoors time together.”
Budding painters with an easel, canvas and paints, can spend a creative day among the thousands of sunflowers, while plenty of crafts and tyre toys will entertain the children and hay bales to climb will stimulate their imagination after traversing the maze.
When the season is over, the environmental benefits have been thought through too, with all remaining sunflowers left for over wintering birds to feed, and the maize cut for silage to feed local farm animals.
Book your ticket for the patch which opens on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August 15 and 16, and Wednesday 19 until August 31.
Visiting couldn’t be simpler: email https://pickingpatch.com/sunflower-picking