Posts tagged Meet the growers

Patterns in Nature Exhibition

Tuesday 26 February 2013 Tagged inAround the world, events, Meet the growers

Turing Sunflower

We are really excited that two of the wonderful images from the Growers' gallery have been selected to feature in Edinburgh Science Festival's Patterns in Nature exhibition which is currently on display in St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh.

We attended the festival launch at the National Museum of Scotland at the end of January and had a look around the wonderful Patterns in Nature exhibition which celebrates 'the glorious beauty, symmetry and complexity of patterns and invites the public to walk through some of nature’s most stunning visual creations and discover the secrets of how and why these patterns are formed'.

Sunflower seedheads

Congratulations to photographers, Chris Foster and John Thurm, whose images are being enjoyed by visitors from around the world. And a huge thank you to the Edinburgh Science Festival team for getting us involved.

Erinma from the Turing's Sunflower team will be heading up to Edinburgh to talk 'crowdsourced science' alongside Galaxy Zoo pioneer, Chris Lintott on Saturday, 6th April 2013 at 17.30 as part of the festival's programme. Browse the programme here. We hope to see a good turn out from any Edinburgh growers!

Photo gallery

Sunflower spirals by John Thurm Sunflowers spirals

Unframed Sunflower Legacy

Wednesday 7 November 2012 Tagged inevents, Meet the growers, Weird & Wonderful

Sunflower installation

We were really excited when Denise Swanson, tweeted her sunflower installation picture. We were naturally curious to know more... Here's her story...

I wanted to participate in the Turing sunflower experiment from the start, but my first attempts were sadly futile. From my second sowing, a sole surviving Russian Giant interested me, as it battled against all odds and finally flowered, magnificently standing tall and proud.

An upcoming print exhibition called ‘Unframed’ at Oxheys Mill Studios in Preston with ArtLab at UCLan provided an opportunity to try something new and to ensure the legacy of my sunflower lived on.

The installation consists of 7 separate fine art prints, each A2 in size, suspended in a clockwise spiral from the rafters, creating an enormous sunflower which gently floats and moves as if in the breeze. Called Ra! the work quietly reflects on the significance of sun worship in every culture.

The installation is on display now as part of:

'Unframed' exhibition at Oxheys Mill Studios in Preston until the 1st December, open Fri/Sat 11-4 with some fabulous work from several other local artists.

Denise Swanson is a fine art photographer/artist with an interest in the natural world and our place within it. Visit: to find out more.

Photo gallery

Keith's picture of L

Fibonacci Sunflower cake

Friday 2 November 2012 Tagged inLearning Resources, Meet the growers, Weird & Wonderful

Turing's Sunflowers Cake

We are always excited by the talents and hobbies of our growers as it helps show different ways to communicate and enjoy how fibonacci numbers work in sunflower seed heads. Here, grower, Liisa Milne shares her sunflower cake recipe!

I am not, by any stretch of the definition, a professional baker.

It is one of a long list of hobbies I have tried out and one of a short list that I have actually stuck with. I have lately been into decorating cakes and trying out new techniques so sometimes I make a little extra and freeze it to practice when I have the time and energy.

So when @TuringSunflower asked for “cake loving baking peeps” it seemed like a great excuse to use the cake I had left over from a family birthday not long ago.

This is a great recipe I found on Whisk Kid’s blog for a confetti cake:

1 C milk (237 ml), divided and at room temp

4 egg whites (120 grams), room temp

1 egg, room temp

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

3 C (350 g) cake flour, sifted

1 1/2 C sugar (300 g)

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp (85 g) butter, cubed and at room temp

6 Tbsp (85 g) vegetable shortening

1/2 C rainbow sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and oil and line two 8" pans. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 C of the milk, egg whites, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the butter and shortening and blend on low for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 3/4 C of milk and mix until just moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 1 and a half minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one third of the egg/milk mixture. Beat on medium for 20 seconds, then scrape down the bowl and add the remaining egg/milk mix in the same way. Fold in the rainbow sprinkles.

Divide the batter into your prepared pans and bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Seeing as my nieces don’t like the taste of fondant I don’t get to use it that often but I couldn’t think of a better way to do a sunflower. I broke out my tools and colours and got to work. It took some math and a good eye but I managed to get thirty four spirals going one way and fifty five the other – just like the seed heads I harvested from my pots in the backyard!

Slice of Turing's Sunflowers cake

Happy 100th Alan Turing. I saved a piece for you.

If you have an interesting way to demonstrate the fibonacci numbers in sunflowers, just drop us an email and we'll add your work to the learning resources.

Photo gallery

Keith's picture of B

Son of Vincent

Thursday 25 October 2012 Tagged inCounting, Meet the growers


You might remember Penelope Nyau's blog post about sunflowers and bees, here's her update after counting sunflowers.

The Turing Sunflower project has been a wondrous and fulfilling journey – cutting down the blooms with my colleagues only extending the thrilling adventure. We discovered how to count the spirals and learned about the Fiboancci sequence, which served only to deepen my admiration for nature.

Vincent and the four STEMs (the names of our sunflowers) were ripe for counting at different times. STEM 4 was an anomaly and unfortunately closed up like a clam so could not be counted. STEMs 2 and 3 have just been picked and not yet counted; but Vincent I am pleased to confirm, proudly featured spiral numbers of the Fibonacci sequence (55 clockwise, 89 counter-clockwise). STEM 1, somewhat smaller than Vincent, but no less impressive, unfortunately did not (44 clockwise, 55 counter-clockwise).

Seeds of Vincent

The point to my post is this – growing and counting done, data entered, photo-diary complete, what to do with Vincent now? Not being able to let the story end here I have patiently plucked every last one of Vincent’s seeds (soon to be doing the same for STEMs 1, 2 and 3!) and lovingly packaged them up to distribute amongst my colleagues, friends and family to grow again next year. Vincent, your legacy will live on.

Penelope Nyau is an administrator based at MOSI and amateur photographer. Follow her on twitter and flickr.

Glyndon Bloom and Berry Sunflower counting

Friday 14 September 2012 Tagged inevents, Meet the growers

Sunflower spiral

The Glyndon Bloom and Berry Garden are regular counting events every Thursday afternoon. So far they have added 4 sunflowers to the database and will keep going until they have added them all!

The next counting event is this coming Thursday 27th September 2012, 3-6pm at:

The Glyndon Bloom and Berry Garden

Glyndon Community Centre

75 Raglan Road

London SE18 7LB

0208 855-9981

The group will be assessing the sunflowers and counting spirals. There is a room booked in Glyndon community centre for this part of the event so it is weather proof. The room is accessible.

The event is being organised by the management committee of Glyndon Community

Lead person

Meta Killick Vice chair


Here, Rebekah Meta Killick shares her sunflower diary on why they got involved in Turing's Sunflowers.

Let us know about your counting events, download the counting guide and of course, share your sunflower diaries!

Photo gallery

Sunflower spiral

Why we love sunflowers..

Wednesday 29 August 2012 Tagged inMeet the growers, Weird & Wonderful

Bee on sunflower

I was really excited to hear that someone had been taking close up pics of our Turing's Sunflowers at MOSI. I was even more delighted to hear the photographer, Penelope's story which will hopefully inspire other nature lovers and give us something interesting to do whilst we wait for our sunflowers to get ready for counting. Here's her story...

I became intrigued by the Turing Sunflower Project early on, growing sunflowers from seeds with my MOSI colleagues to plant in our on-site grow boxes. As they sprouted into seedlings I found myself growing quite fond of them. Always having had a general fascination with the marvels of nature and photography, I decided to combine the two. I love to take my lunch breaks outside, usually not to eat but to take photos! I have a particular fondness for my macro setting on my camera, a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot digital, and am fascinated by the bumblebee. Having grown up in Australia where we don’t have bumblebees you may be able to understand my fascination!

Harlequin Ladybird

Once the sunflower blooms started appearing and I was carrying out my rostered watering duties I began to notice that both honey bees and bumblebees were particularly attracted to them, along with ladybirds and other insects too. I started taking photos as a record for identification and then started counting them too. My colleagues would agree it all spiralled out of control from there.

So if you’re after a fun/obsessive activity to do whilst waiting for your own sunflower spirals to be ready for the big count, I highly recommend taking a moment each day to watch your blooms more closely, you’ll see our precious pollinators in action and may be lucky enough to spot some other interesting insects enjoying them too!

Find your guide to identifying UK bees and other great resources here at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and sign up for the BeeWatch survey.

Further inspiration can be found in other citizen science projects being run internationally: The Great Sunflower Project San Francisco

Other insect counts to get involved in:

Big Butterfly Count (for the rest of August)

UK Ladybird Survey

Follow Penelope with her professional hat on, on Twitter or, check out her photography on flickr. Penelope Nyau is an administrator based at MOSI and amateur photographer.


Sunflower growing at Daresbury Laboratory

Wednesday 8 August 2012 Tagged inMeet the growers

Year 5 pupils from Moore Primary school in Cheshire planting sunflowers at Daresbury Laboratory

Together Moore Primary School and Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Warrington are growing sunflowers. The scientists and engineers’ of STFC Daresbury Laboratory use a whole range of multi disciplinary science skills such as engineering, computer science and mathematics. The Laboratory also works very closely with The University of Manchester where Alan Turing worked on many of their early computers.

Daresbury has its own scientific computing department who are celebrating 100 years since Turing’s birth. Many scientists on site are familiar with Turing’s work and therefore can provide in depth analysis and information aimed at many audiences. We decided to involve some local primary school children in the sunflower project.

Moore Primary School came to the Laboratory for a short presentation on Alan Turing and the Fibonacci sequence, then got messy planting their very own sunflowers. We will be keeping the sunflowers on site and will invite the class back in the next school year to measure the height and to draw the pattern their sunflower has made. The planting took place on site near our very own ‘dipole henge’ made from the magnets used on the Synchrotron Radiation Source that was decommissioned in 2008.

Author: Wendy Cotterill, Public Engagment Liaison Office, Daresbury Laboratory, Warrington.

Meet the Growers - Community Open Day

Thursday 19 July 2012 Tagged inGrowing Tips, Meet the growers

One of our partners is The University of Manchester and its been fantastic to work with researchers from the maths department, computing and now... The Faculty of Life Sciences. Charlotte Alcock, shares an insight to their growing activities...

Dr Minsung Kim tlaking about spiral patterns in plants

The Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester got involved with Turing’s Sunflowers Experiment as part of our annual Community Open Day. Every year we open our doors to local people so they can come in and have a look around, talk to our scientists and get involved in some hands on science!

We were keen to include this great experiment as part of our day as we do a lot of research on plants and are passionate getting the public engaged with our research and science in general.


Over 100 seedlings were grown by the lovely volunteers at the University’s Botanical Gardens to be given away to members of the public on the Open Day with instructions on how to look after them and how to get involved in the big seed count once the plants had flowered. Dr Minsung Kim one of our plant science researchers was on hand to talk about Fibonacci numbers in nature.

Around 700 people braved the downpours to come and get involved with the Open Day and all our seedlings found willing homes by the end of the day!

Check out the gallery to see highlights from the day.

Photo gallery

Dr Minsung Kim tlaking about spiral patterns in plants

The Fibonacci Sequence permeates through Art and Nature

Saturday 7 July 2012 Tagged inevents, Meet the growers, Turing related

Turing's Sunflower grower, Andrew Glester gives an insight into why he got involved in planting Turing's Sunflowers.

Elbow Rain

My company, Sound of Science, is founded on an equal love of science and the arts. We’ve long since been intrigued by the occurance of the Fibonacci sequence in art, music and nature and when we heard about the Turing Sunflowers project, we simply had to start planting.

It was in 1994, when Manchester City Council took the decision to name a road after Alan Turing, that I first heard of him. That same year I left school and even though computers weren’t the omnipresent force that they are today, Turing’s name should have been on the tip of my tongue.

My schooling took place before the establishment revised its view of Turing and maybe it was this or because my school had a peculiar notion that pupils were either “Arts” or “Science” and I had taken the “Arts” route.

But whatever the reason, on June 23rd, I stood among thousands of music fans dripping beneath the Lovell telescope with the rain lashing down and queues for the Jodrell Bank visitor centre snaking around the grounds, dotted as they are with Turing Sunflowers. As our fellow mancunians Elbow took to the stage on what would have been the great man’s birthday, it was clear that this city is now rightly proud of Turing and that the arbitrary divisions of Arts and Science that once blighted my life are no more.

Roll on Manchester Science Festival in October. I can’t wait for the results of this brilliant project, founded on the work of a brilliant man.

Image copyright: Andrew Glester

Andrew Glester is the Producer/Director of Polar, The Spaceship of Our Imagination and Managing Director of Sound of Science ltd.

Celebrating Turing @ Live from Jodrell Bank

Sunday 1 July 2012 Tagged inevents, Meet the growers, Weird & Wonderful

Shea, Diana and Jen

We were really excited to celebrate Alan Turing's centenary (100 years since he was born) on 23rd June 2012 at Jodrell Bank. We hosted a stand in the Science Arena to celebrate Turing's birthday with the thousands of visitors who'd come from around the UK to watch Elbow and other bands play Live from Jodrell Bank.

Seeds planted at Jodrell

MOSI presenters, Adam and Shea and STEM Ambassador, Diana from The University of Manchester and Erinma (Turing's Sunflowers project manager) to engage the public in growing special dwarf sunflowers and code breaking activities whilst finding out more about Turing's life and legacy. We were visited by quite a few Turing's Sunflower growers including Astronomer, Jen Gupta as well as people who hadn't heard about the project but were excited to plant a Turing Sunflower on Turing's birthday.

Jodrell Sunflowers

We're happy to say that the Jodrell Live sunflowers are doing really well. A huge thank you to everyone who planted a sunflower at the stand and to the organisers at Jodrell for putting on a fab event. The sunflowers will become part of the experiment and once they have grown a bit more, will be planted in a very special place... all to be revealed!

Photo gallery

Jodrell Sunflowers planting at Jodrell Shea, Diana and Jen Shea with visitors to jodrell Adam