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Sunflower Houses

June 11, 2010

Sharon Lovejoy, well-known writer and naturalist, describes how to make a sunflower house in her books, Sunflower Houses: A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups and Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots.  These playhouses made out of plants spark children’s imaginations and encourage outdoor exploration. 

School children plant a horseshoe shaped sunflower house.

Lovejoy describes a rectangle of 6 ft by 9 ft which is planted with various sized sunflowers, including a tall growing variety like Mammoth Sunflowers.  Yet, these houses can be any shape and size you wish.  Large circles or horseshoe shaped garden beds planted with sunflowers will give the same effect of having a secret place for children to play.  Just be certain to leave space for an entranceway.  You may also think about planting perennial sunflowers for a more permanent house.   

When planting your sunflower seeds, you can also plant morning glory seeds or corn.  The morning glories will wind up the sunflowers as they grow.  Then when the sunflowers are fully grown, you can zigzag twine across the tops of the sunflowers and allow the morning glories to climb up and cover the ceiling.  Corn also grows well with sunflowers, as the two plants both grow straight and tall.  Corn clumps planted between the sunflowers will add variation to the sunflower walls.  Plus it provides a fun snack; you can grow sweet corn or popcorn and corn stalks can be made into corn husk dolls for play. 

Cosmos are tall growing flowering plants that can be planted around the sunflower houses to enhance their beauty.  They will be in bloom after the sunflower heads have faded. 

These secret places for kids can be made more elaborate with carpets of clover, creeping thyme or thick grass.  A fine bark mulch or soft straw can also make good floors for children to play on.  The most important part of creating a sunflower house is to involve children and to have fun!

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