A stunning sunflower trail will be back at its blooming best this summer.
The Dorset Sunflower Trail is to open for its third season in summer 2023 at Maiden Castle Farm, on the outskirts of Dorchester.
Maiden Castle Farm has raised a whopping £37,000 for charities since it started the trail in 2021.
Some 750,000 sunflower seeds have been planted to create two spectacular trails for visitors.
In the lead-up to the trail, which is expected to be opening in the first half of August, sunflower sculptures and murals will be dotted around Dorchester and sun-flower themed shop windows will appear in both the county town and Poundbury.
As well as the trail, visitors can also enjoy local ice creams, rest up at the café or bring a picnic, and take home cut sunflowers or souvenirs from the Sunshine Shack.
Maiden Castle Farm has once again pledged to donate half of the proceeds from ticket sales to a local charity.
The main chosen charity this year is Dorset County Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). This unit has played a very special part over the years for the Hoskin family, who are behind the trail.
The fundraising total from the previous two years stands at £37,000 with last year’s proceeds split between Ukraine’s Cherkasy Hospital and Dorset County Hospital’s children’s unit Kingfisher children’s ward, which will use the money to fund space for the wellbeing of young patients.
Dominic Sheehy, manager of Dorset County Hospital’s SCBU, said: “We are grateful and very excited to have been chosen to be supported by this event – we have lots of plans for the unit and take great pride in providing the best possible facilities, services and care we can for our precious patients and their families.”
Following a successful collaboration last year, Dorchester Town Council will work closely with event organiser Hazel Hoskin to create a 'Summer of Sunflowers' in Dorchester.
From mid-July there will be sunflower sculptures suspended high across South Street in Dorchester while a local artist will decorate the pavements with a temporary eco-friendly painted sunflower murals.
Local retailers will create sunflower-themed shop windows across Dorchester and Poundbury, while local eateries will tempt visitors with limited edition sunflower bakes, all helping to raise money for this special local charity.
Children from The Prince of Wales School have also got involved by making eco-friendly bird scarers to protect the crop.
The main event will happen in August at Maiden Castle Farm itself, when the sunflower crop is fully grown and in all its glory.
Hazel said: “The uniqueness of this major fundraising event is that the Sunflower Trail is planted in a different field each year due to crop rotation.
"So if you’ve visited before then this year’s experience will be different again."
Opening dates and times will be confirmed at a later date.
Tickets will be held at 2022 prices and will go on sale in July. See www.facebook.com/MaidenCastleFarm and www.maidencastlefarm.co.uk for more information.