A group of young gardeners in Cromwell has had success against a wide field of competitors by growing a sunflower that towers over them all.

The preschoolers at the Kidsfirst Kindergarten on Gilling Place won the regional title as part of the Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens project.

Teacher Nicola Brown said that over the past four months, almost 12,000 children from 236 kindergartens nationwide grew sunflowers from seed, competing to grow the tallest sunflower and widest sunflower head in their region.

The Cromwell kindergarten competed with others from as far away as Christchurch and the West Coast and throughout Central Otago, she said.

Their winning flower towered over its growers at 209cm.

Mrs Brown said tending the flower had become a community affair.

“The tamariki spend a lot of time nurturing our sustainable garden with whanau, even getting involved over the holiday breaks taking turns to water our growing plants.”

She has watched the children measure the sunflowers against themselves as the plants have grown, she said.

“It is such a joy to take them out there and see the rewards of all our mahi, our work.”