Walking on sunshine

Shauna Loughran

Reporter:

Shauna Loughran

A PORTGLENONE family who saw hundreds of people flock to their Gortgole Road Sunflower Field last year are hoping to do the same again this as the field of gold is back open for business!

The initiative was the brainwave of Damian McAllister, whose father Eamonn owns the land on which the three acres of flowers span.

The idea was conceived as a way of raising money for the building fund of the local chapel, St Mary’s, Portglenone. They raised more than £1,500.

This year the family are hoping to raise money for the Macmillan charity.

The attraction reopened last Wednesday, August 7 with visitors advised to dress for the rather unpredictable weather.

The McAllister family helped spread a little bit of sunshine late last year as 175,000 tiny seeds planted in Spring blossomed into huge bursts of yellow sunflowers.

The McAllister's created a spectacular attraction with their wildflower meadow and sunflower display, which saw people from far and wide descend upon the field to view the stunning blooms.

Damian sowed the seed at the end of May utilising an old technique of sowing with a fiddle.

One acre is devoted to wildflowers, with intricate hues of yellows, purples and reds while the huge sunflowers take up two acres.

Damian’s wife, Karen, told the Guardian last year that the field was only supposed to be open for two days but due to its popularity they decided to keep it open.

SUPPORT


She said: “We have been overwhelmed at how much support we have received. We have been so busy and people just keep on coming.

“My husband planted the seeds in late May and the conditions, with the warm weather and rain, have ensured they have flourished.

“They are continuing to bloom and the children who visit absolutely love it.

“It is good fun, they can play games like hide and seek. But, it’s educational too.

“They can learn about nature and see the flowers as well as ladybirds and bumble bees!

“We have even been in touch with the local Beekeepers Association.

“There are a number of varieties of flowers here including Corn Cockle, Marigolds, Chamomiles and Cornflower.

“There are 175,000 sunflowers with the tallest so far reaching 7ft!“

Karen revealed that she had received a request from a bride who wished to have her wedding pictures at the field and an 80 year old lady told her she hadn’t seen a field of sunflowers like this since she was in her 20s in France!

Karen said: “The reception to this has been totally unexpected but it’s been great!”

Eamonn McAllister, owner of the land, said: “Usually we don’t have the climate here for the sunflowers but they have bloomed this year.

“It was a novel idea and we have been very busy with visitors from all over.”

News of the Sunflower Field's reopening has been causing a flurry on social media, with visitors eager to get snapped with the blooms.

The Sunflower Field is situated about three miles from the centre of Portglenone, on the left hand side of the Gortgole Road. It will be open from 10am-8pm daily.

Entrance costs £2 per adult, £1 for children aged 5-16, with free admission for children under 5.

Dogs are welcome as long as they are controlled and on a lead and poop bags are used.

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