A Hope and Happiness initiative designed to help people fight lockdown depression has seen 70 pots of ready planted sunflowers and 2,000 packets of ready to plant seeds donated to businesses and residents by the Royal Windsor Rose and Horticultural Society.

Devised by the society the Hope and Happiness Project is the first of its kind and rooted in ‘green therapy’, the proven study of the advantages of gardening to mental and physical wellbeing. Sowing, growing and displaying these seeds will produce colourful flashes of yellow by mid-August.

The project is sponsored by Berkeley Homes.

The Royal Windsor Rose and Horticultural Society is one of the oldest continuous running societies of its kind and was due to celebrate its 115th annual Royal Windsor Summer Show in July before the lockdown forced its cancellation. So members launched the Hope and Happiness project instead.

President of the society and governor of Windsor Castle Admiral Sir James Perowne is one of the first people to get sowing along with his wife Lady Nicola. He said: "It can be hard to find meaningful projects in these difficult times, but by growing sunflowers in our front gardens, flower boxes and green spaces, this is something we can do together as a community, supporting each other and looking towards a brighter future.”

Benjamin Ivey, Sales Director at Berkeley Homes, said, “Sunflowers have long been a cultural symbol for strength and happiness, and this is exactly the kind of message our community needs right now."

Society Vice President and Keeper of the Gardens Windsor Great Park John Anderson said: “‘Sunflower ‘Soleil’ only grow to about 40-50cm tall and produces lots of smaller sunflowers making it ideal for pots in front gardens. Sow the seed as soon as you receive them, ensure the compost does not dry out, and position in a sunny but sheltered spot. You will be rewarded with flowers that are vivid golden yellow with a rich dark core.”

Seed packets for residents and smart black fabric planters of ready-grown sunflower plants for businesses are free to anyone who registers at www.rwrhs.com