Johnstown Sunflower Trail 2022

Our 2022 trail hosts over 600 sunflowers at close to 50 sites along a 10km route. Flowers will appear from late July through to August and attract pollinators before creating Autumn seeds for the wild birds. In the meantime why not enjoy the walk, or cycle.

+10km Trail Route

Why not use the trail map below as a family treasure hunt and see if the children can find the flowers.

Project Timeline


  • Engage groups to host sites


  • Obtain consent and permissions

  • Obtain seeds, compost, and supplies.


  • Schools germinate seeds and grow small saplings ready for planting out


  • Planting out by groups

July to September

  • Johnstown Sunflower Trail begins.


  • Harvest seeds for next year.

  • Create natural bird feeders.


  • Composting plants and clearing sites.

2022 Project Aims

  1. Create an engaging attraction.

The iconic sunflower catches everyone's attention and our 2021 display trail highlighted the lack of other colourful flowers in public spaces. Our social media posts proved to be one of the most popular and they gained the attention of the Meath Chronicle newspaper for an article about us.

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and, through the project, we aim to raise funds for one of the key charities supporting the people displaced by the war.

2. Engage the community in supporting biodiversity.

Sunflowers were chosen because of their large noticeable iconic shape, they are easy to grow, and they easily bring a smile to people of all ages. They can provide a neighbourhood theme and, being of great benefit to wildlife, they work towards creating connected bee corridors.

Building on the success, and learnings, of the 2021 trail we were able to approach more new sites with easterly and southerly facing locations, all in prominent locations close to footpaths and where nearby businesses or residents would help to plant and water the flowers. 58 sites were selected.

Staff and students at our 4 nearest schools, St Stephen's National School, Colaiste na Mi Secondary School, St Mary's Special School and Ard Ri Community National School, were approached and they welcomed the opportunity to be involved in germinating and growing hundreds of seeds until ready for planting.

We have planned to have a huge surplus with the intention of giving flowers to households along the route to grow in their own front gardens.

We have created a street poster with QR codes to direct interested members of the public to our website for more information.

We will encourage trail followers to photograph and record any wildlife or insects seen feeding on the plants.

3. Create a Walking and Cycle Trail.

Following mainly public roads and paths the looped +10km trail is part of our Healthy Living Plan to encourage and promote walking and cycling. In the Summer we plan to team up with the Navan Cycling Initiative group to further promote this.

The trail includes the Navan IDA park which does close its northern, Bothar Sion, gates on weekends but despite this the area is still accessed by walkers and cyclists. The Johnstown School Campus is also included and although not accessible to the general public it is still accessed by over 1,500 students and their parents too.

4. Sustainability

  • Sunflowers grow well in Ireland to provide food for pollinators and seeds for wild birds and future planting.

  • Seedlings this year will be grown directly in compost bags and later transferred into their planting position. This removes the need to use any other planting pots and the compost bags can be recycled.

  • Watering funnels, made from collected and recycled plastic bottles, improve water conservation by efficiently watering the plant roots directly. These pipes will later be cleaned and recycled.

  • Some seed heads will be harvested for next year's flowers but most will be left in place. We noticed that last year birds naturally found the seeds when left on the plant but a minority of seed heads will be cut and hung from tree branches as natural bird feeding stations in more suitable locations.

  • The spent plant will be shredded and then composted at our Walterstown GFC site.

  • Bamboo support canes are being reused from last year but the vast majority of plants will not need any support.


Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine and we would be delighted if you can show your appreciation for our community work by making a donation to this year's chosen charity

We became aware of the work that this Polish Charity are providing when we helped the community to send emergency supplies to Poland to help those displaced by the war, and they still need your help. Read More

2022 Sunflower Trail Review

View our findings that will become action points for a larger 2023 display.

  • Overview of the year: April germination, Late June planting out, July - October flowering, and removal from mid October to late November.

  • We successfully engaged over 200 people in producing a complete trail that was again well received by the community, the bees, hoverflies, and later in the season the wild birds too.

  • Gaining a sponsor to provide 40 compost bags was invaluable and helped extend the trail to 50 sites. The sponsor has been retained for 2023 with a commitment to provide compost, pots, and supplies.

  • The seed germination by the 4 local schools was very successful. Germination and growth at Ard Ri was outstanding where the warm tarmac floor encouraged growth in the sunny wind-sheltered position. The semi-shaded area at St Stephen's produced a good crop, despite an excellent initial germination and growth the grassy areas at both CnaMi and St Mary's Special School suffered from severe slug attacks. The loss of more than 1/3 of the crop overnight from slugs impacted the planned display and prevented the donation of sunflowers for residents' gardens. Alternative growing locations need to be found.

  • Germinating the sunflower seeds directly in grow bags was considerably more successful than the paper pots of 2021. 40 planted per bag was reasonably easy to transport and the plastic liner helped water retention.

  • Very few species required support poles and of which only a small number were taken.

  • The purchase of 200ltr flat pack portable plastic watering containers proved very successful and we were able to utilise harvested rainwater for those not being watered by resident groups.

  • Of the +50 sites proposed, 40 were planted, 27 create very successful displays and the remainder requires revision to be more successful next year.

  • Not all the sunflowers bloomed at the same time, the multiheaded species on roundabouts worked well and extended their display time. Perhaps a mix should be used at other sites to extend their interest over a longer time.

  • Planting in pots at Spireview Lawn, which suffered from slugs in 2021, was very successful. In future pots need to be secured to the floor to prevent wind damage. More sites are planned with pots donated by the sponsor.

  • Only a few seedheads were hung as natural birdfeeders since many of the heads suffered from mould.

  • Many of the sunflower roots were left in the ground to return nitrogen to the soil whilst the stems, being slow to compost, were sent to Navan Recycling Centre for industrial composting.

  • Street signage with QR codes on simple plaques proved to be successful although we need to use our own stakes to reduce the number taken down.

  • Extending the display into the IDA using last year's images gained us an introduction to 6 IDA businesses and 8 display sites. 6/8 of the display sites were very successful, only 2 sites were lacking due to insufficient watering.

  • We missed out on engaging more with secondary schools who break for summer in late May but we should engage primary schools prior to May for a 2023 colouring competition to help create display posters to promote the project.

2022 Photo Gallery

April 6th

This year's Johnstown Sunflower Trail got off to a great start. This lovely card was waiting for us from students of St Mary's Special School as they took delivery today of our sunflower seeds. Together with Ard Ri CNS, St Stephen's NS, and Colaiste na Mi secondary school, the staff and students will be helping to produce over a thousand sunflowers for our trail.

May 11th

Plants Drink Too

The Ardboyne Hotel provided us with some of the hundreds of drinks bottles that we're going to transform into watering funnels for our Sunflower Trail.

June 15th

Sunflower Team

Volunteers are starting to collect hundreds of saplings from our local schools. Some are being transplanted into pots for transporting around the neighbourhood ready for planting out.

Read More
June 13th

Sunflower Team

A massive thank you to The Grow Shop team who have played a significant role in helping to create this year's Sunflower Trail.

Not only did they donate compost bags to the community earlier this year to start off the sunflowers but they have grown delicate trailing plants to feature in our St Martha's Bridge Summer Display.

Read More
June 20th

Sunflower Team

We offer a huge thank you to students and staff at our 4 local schools for growing hundreds of sunflowers for our 2022 trail.

Pictured are students from St Stephens NS.

Read More
June 22nd

Sunflower Planting Begins

This year's trail planting got off to an enthusiastic start with staff at Utmost, in the IDA, not only joining our trail but starting it off with the first planting.

Read More
June 24th

Sunflower School Team

Students and staff have shown us their amazing 'Green Fingers' producing one-quarter of this year's Johnstown Sunflower Trail.

Pictured are students from Ard Ri CNS.

Read More
June 24th

St Mary's Special School Sunflowers

Sunflowers are prepped and ready for students to plant along the school's fence line.

Read More
June 24th

Chestnut Court Sunflowers

A dozen flowers were planted along the approach road into Old Johnstown Village today

June 27th

Athlumney Abbey Sunflowers

A dozen flowers planted by volunteers will hopefully grow tall enough to be seen from Bothar Sion

Read More

Early August In Bloom

August 10th

Extra Display

Not all the sunflowers form part of a public trail so it's great to see the JTT Sunflowers bring some extra sunshine into the adorable garden at the Special Care Unit in Bailis.

August 12th

Growing in Height

Our Sunflower Trail extends as far as Walterstown Gfc Official and we're delighted to see the smiles they brought to the U5's this evening.

August 13th

Cycle Opportunity

New to this year's Sunflower Trail Spun Cycles and Run have transformed the former Metges Road swimming pool into a very welcoming sight. As part of this year's 🌻 Trail you can take a family-friendly 🚴 following the cycle lanes and around the IDA.

We're very excited to hear that they're NOW offering bike hire which is great news if you've not got enough space at home to store a family collection of bikes.

Details in store or call them on 0469020478 and they specialise in Bike and Running sales and servicing including Ebikes.

August 21st

Sunflowers Shine

Our Sunflowers at The Old Bridge Inn, Willows are looking great.

For the next few weeks there's over 10km of trail to follow and hundreds of Sunflowers in full bloom.

Sustainable Development Goals

This project has connections with the following categories:

Previous Trails

Contact us if you would like to get involved and lend a hand.