A patch of sunflowers was wiggling… and giggling. We thought for a second we had lost the children in the massive field brimming with yellow faces turned up to the sun – then realised a particular spot was behaving very oddly. Creeping up on them and picking our way between stems, looking for the gaps we could slip through, and- ‘found you!’, and the game started again.
We spent about two and a half hours at Tulleys Farm with the mini moo and her best friend (and his parents), much of which consisted of chasing a pair of three year olds around the sunflower fields. We quickly realised that they were shorter than the sunflowers so as soon as they headed into the flowers we would have lost sight of them unless we followed – which wasn’t as easy as it sounds as we had to weave our way around groups of flowers, and of course children can slip through much smaller gaps!
We did of course manage to keep tabs on them the whole time but Sophie and her friend had a brilliant time playing together. She wasn’t especially keen to stop and pose for photos – I got some, but not as many as I would have liked – or even to pick the flowers once she had selected one that she wanted!
Tulleys Farm are very good at providing spots for photo opportunities, as we discovered when we went pumpkin picking last year. They had various props and spots around the sunflower field where you could pose next to or on and old car, a rocking chair, a doorway and more. They say they have over 20 photo opportunities to capture the perfect summer selfie – I don’t think I spotted more than five of them! The children particularly liked an old piano painted yellow as they were able to sit on the stool and play! (As well as a three year old can play piano anyway!).
Alongside the sunflower field there was a seating area and vans selling different food and drink. The food looked very nice, in particular the tacos, but we didn’t want anything to eat apart from an ice cream for the children and a drink for ourselves. I was shocked at the price of the drinks however – £3 for a 500ml bottle of Coke (around £1.20 in supermarkets) and a whopping £6 for a 250ml can of ready made cocktail – the same ones that I sometimes buy in the supermarket where they are £1.95 each or three for £5. Here, there would have set you back £18!
Aside from the price of the drinks we had a lovely afternoon. It was a memorable experience even if the sunflowers didn’t last that long when we got them home (and had shed several of their petals even by the time we got there), the children had a brilliant time and we got some great photos, even though we may have to go back when Sophie is a little older and a bit more willing to stop running around and pose!
Top tips for visiting a pick your own sunflower farm
Here is some advice for first timers at sunflower picking. Fields price the experience differently- some will charge an entry fee and then you pay for what you pick (much as you would with fruit) whereas at Tulleys Farm there was a flat fee of £6 per person which included entry and three sunflowers, or £12 for 10 flowers, or £1 per extra stem on top.
- Sunflower stems are thick, and some weren’t far off the size of my three year old’s arm. So you will need secateurs to cut them – check if the farm you are going to provides them. Tulley’s gives you one pair per group which you return as you leave. If there are more adults in your group you may want to take your own pair as well.
- Then all you do is select the sunflowers you want! A few things to bear in mind when picking your own sunflowers:
- Try to choose ones where the faces are turned up to the sun or at least horizontal – when you put sunflowers in a vase at home, if the faces are pointing down, it will look like your arrangement is drooping
- You will probably get yellow pollen on your clothing; it does come off but you may need to wash or sponge clean the item as soon as you get home.
- Sunflowers are heavy… we paid for three stems per person and my husband and I took turns carrying them all while the other ran after our daughter – I was very glad we hadn’t gone for the option of ten each!
- Think about what you are going to wear. Let’s face it, a lot of us are going sunflower picking for the photos more than actually wanting some of the flowers (though I also think the experience itself is a brilliant thing especially for children). So think about what you will wear that will complement the block yellow colours in the photo. I wore a checked black and white gingham dress; other people I saw ranged from jeans and a t-shirt to two women in long white flowing dresses and big straw sun hats. Which was lovely but it wasn’t a particularly sunny day!
- Watch out for bees. Bumblebees love sunflowers and would prefer not to sting you – and it’s only polite to check the sunflower you are about to harvest doesn’t have bees nestled in its head. Several times I went to cut a sunflower stem and saw two or even three bees very comfortably sitting and gathering nectar. It’s one thing to wave away a bee if it’s approaching the flower you are about to cut but it does seem a little rude to force them out when they are minding their own business! Also check before you put your sunflowers in your car that there isn’t a stray bee coming along for the ride.
- Take something to line your car boot. See previous comment about the pollen- we had some plastic bin bags we laid down on the boot and put the flowers on top so they wouldn’t stain.
But most of all, respect nature, don’t litter, and have fun!