Watching children play in the garden is one of the most rewarding activities I can think of. A few years ago, while planning my garden, I came across instructions for growing a sunflower house. Its not a structure to build, but rather a playhouse that you can grow. It provides a wonderful opportunity to create something special with our children as a team and maybe, to build memories and traditions that they can pass on to their children one day.
The walls are a perimeter of sunflowers, tall and majestic, with their heads that follow the sun. Morning Glory flowers and Four OClocks are interplanted with the sunflowers. They climb the sunflower stalks and give support during high winds. Once the sunflower heads are developed, you can string twine back and forth across the top, from head to head. The flowers will grow along the string and form a roof. It is a beautiful sight as well as a fun place for children to play. My daughters friends always ask to play in the sunflower house when they come over.
When building a sunflower house, location is very important. If the house will be used by small children, you will want to make sure it is within sight. Ours in build right in the main garden and is the centerpiece for the area. This location allows me to watch my daughter play while Im working with the vegetable plants. For best results, sunflowers need full sun. You also want to choose a place that has good drainage. If not, the house could get muddy, and possibly undermine the stability of the plants.
Insects have never been a problem with my sunflower plants. They attract beneficial insects, such as bees, praying mantis, and ladybugs. If birds become a problem and start to peck at the seed heads, you can protect them with cheesecloth or paper bags tied around the sunflower head. Usually that doesnt become a problem until the blooms are losing their petals anyway, so you wont be losing any decorative appeal. When the sunflower seeds are ready to be harvested, there’s nothing like roasted sunflower seeds for a nutritious and healthy snack.
When you buy seeds, make sure to buy from a reputable seed company. You may want to buy varying heights of sunflowers as well as some decorative flower, ornamental corn, or even gourd seeds. Edible elements work nicely too, such as patches of mint or some strawberry plants around the outer base of the house. This lets children snack on healthy foods while they play. Use your imagination and together you can make the house unique and personal.
Decorations are fun for children to pick out. I take my daughter to the dollar store and she has so much fun choosing what items she would like to decorate her house with this year. Just be sure that they are age-appropriate decorations, and that they arent going to be a choking hazard or that the decorations dont have sharp edges that could cut the child.
So grab your garden tools in one hand and take your childs hand with the other- its time to make some great lifelong memories.