Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunflower Houses, Part 1

By Trial Garden Manager Lindsay Del Carlo

We were recently inspired by author Sharon Lovejoy and her book Sunflower Houses which features lots of ideas for gardening with children, and decided to grow our own sunflower house. It’s a fun project to do with kids because they can have their own secret hideout and experience the wonder of these towering plants with huge flowers that are visited by birds, bees and butterflies.
(read more about Sharon at:

Planting the house
First, choose a sunny site with plenty of room to lay out the “house.” We are making ours a rectangle about eight feet on the long sides and five feet front and back. Scrape away a strip about a foot wide for planting along three sides of the perimeter, leaving an entry opening on the front. Prepare the soil in the planting strip, removing any grass, weeds or stones and turning the soil over. Turn in a few inches of compost into the prepared planting strip and be sure to add an all-purpose fertilizer, working it into the soil.

Sunflower House entrance

We chose to use our Van Gogh Sunflowers to create the walls of the our house. This variety has tall, sturdy straight stalks with uniformly big, bright, sunny yellow flowers. The plants are growing almost daily now and it’s fun to watch the “walls” get taller and taller. 

We also planted pumpkins along the walk that leads to the sunflower house. We will follow up soon when the sunflowers are in full bloom and we invite some kids to play in our house.
Pumpkins line the pathway to the house

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