samhain10

Sunflower house

samhain10 - 5a
May 16, 2013

I originally posted this on the Garden Experiments forum since I am not building my house with kids, but it is usually a child-related project, so - here's the original posting:

I'm working on plans for a sunflower house this season - anyone out there have first hand experience with this so as to give me pointers for success? I'll plant in a circle 10-12 ft in diameter with a 2-3 ft doorway, with Kong Sunflowers in the inner part of the perimeter and shorter varieties in front of those. I'm also thinking of planting a mini-garden of flowers in front of the "house" in the manner of a cottage garden. The whole area is in an already established garden space which is part of my veggie garden. Just thought I'd have some fun this year! :)

Comments (47)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Sunflower House - Phase 2...I added the fence and planted the seeds - right before the heavy hailstorm hit us!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    the hailstones with a quarter for scale...

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  • samhain10 - 5a

    Sunflower house as of June 20th, with Fearless the cat investigating. The blanket is a temporary "floor" - looking for a used round rug to put in there. In addition to the sunflowers, there are scarlet runner beans and Heavenly Blue morning glories planted at the "fence posts".

  • jadedgardener

    That looks cool, I'll watch for updates to see how it works out. I've been wanting to do something similar with my kids, but we always end up just putting the sunflowers in rows for lack of motivation.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Hi jadedgardener! Make a raised bed like I did in the first photos. I found having the form there from the beginning made it real for me even before the seeds sprouted. The âÂÂfenceâ I decided was necessary because we have high winds in our area and I wanted the sunflowers to have extra support so they wouldn't blow over. But the fence also gives the illusion of a house as well. Plus the blanket or some rug for a floor helps. I took the pic this morning, 40 days after planting the seeds; they're growing pretty fast now. I'd started seeds in cups earlier, but the mice ate them right out of the cups in my greenhouse!

  • tatreanna

    My family and I are so excited to watch how this progresses! My three little girls ask me to check every day to see if you've updated your post. I think your red blanket will be a lovely contrast to the leaves and flowers as they grow - hope you find a round red one. :)

    I have a 5 year old who grows short (4'), inedible sunflowers in her garden spot, but next year she wants edible sunflowers. Are Kong Sunflowers edible?

    Also: are you going to weave the sunflowers/beans around the framework of the house?

    Great work! We are following along!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Oh fun! I'm glad there are some others to enjoy this sunflower house with me!
    I've decided to keep with the blanket instead of a rug, since I like the blanket myself. :)
    I'm pretty sure the Kong sunflowers are edible; I think just about any sunflower seeds would be, but here's the story about the Kong seeds: the mice ate them! I had to substitute another variety of tall sunflower, plus I have others as well.
    You see I started them inside in cups, to give them a headstart in our northern climate before they went out in the garden. But then mice came in our little greenhouse and dug up every one of them, plus all the squash, pumpkin and cucumber seeds I'd started as well. I had to start everything over again, but the sunflowers I decided to plant directly into the garden.
    You ask if I will weave the plants into the framework of the house. The sunflowers I'll probably tie to the fence so they don't run the risk of getting blown down by the wind. The scarlet runner beans and the Heavenly Blue morning glories are already winding their way up the fence posts. I will help them work their way over the top by running some strings between the tops of the posts. You can see the red blooms of the beans on the right in this pic.
    Things were pretty slow growing right at first, but now they are going strong. Cross your fingers that all the sunflower varieties have time to come to full bloom!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Sunflower house as of this morning. Note the "hobbit" windows added. I'll try to either tie back or prune plants away from the windows to keep them open. Have extended the trellis fence to meet overhead and make a better roof for the vines to catch hold on.
    It rained and thundered last night - good growing conditions!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Here is a pic of the little "cottage garden" I planted in front of the sunflower house. I realize now I should have planted it right beside the "house" to look like a real cottage garden. Separated by the path, even though it's a narrow one, the effect is lost. Plus I think I should have put the windows lower down. Making notes for next year! :)

  • Dani0025

    Im excited to see the finished product! Ive been checking every few days for new pictures. I like the little cottage garden too

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Sunflower house as of this morning. Getting close to bloom-time! Hard to get a good shot where it's situated, but will take another in late afternoon or when it's cloudy and the light isn't behind it. Stay tuned!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    The little Sunflower House cottage garden with Sirius, one of the feral cats who lives in the colony here, visiting. You can just see the red "floor" of the sunflower house at the top right. The marigolds on the bottom right are the end of the tomato trellis bed.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Very close to bloom time now...Here's a pic taken from the inside of one of the spayed feral cats, Little Mama, "walking through walls".

  • samhain10 - 5a

    And here is a pic looking up at the "ceiling" of the Sunflower House. The scarlet runner beans are living up to their name, running to cover the roof with red blooms.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    The first sunflower blooming in the Sunflower House - one of the Earthwalkers! More to come soon...

  • tatreanna

    This picture prompted a "That's not a sunflower - it's red!" from my 5 year old. And a "So... it's a sunflower that walks the Earth? Cool." from my 7 year old.

    Now I'm going to add other-than-yellow-sunflowers to my exchange list. :D

  • cedar_wa

    Thank you for sharing your pictures. What fun for your kids. I like the rug, scarlet runner beans and of course the sun flowers. This year we did not have a bean house in our 4-h garden, but pumpkins and attempting water melons. The "house" inspires the imagination of more kids. Love the progressive pictures.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Hi guys! Yes, there ARE red sunflowers! Or more like burgundy or rust colored. And one of the cool things is that these are maybe 5th or 6th generation harvested from my own plants. Back some years ago when I bought the first Earthwalker seeds, I assumed they wouldn't come true to type so I didn't save seed. However, the sunflowers had a different idea about it, and I had volunteers from the seed scattered by the chicadees, and they were all red, too, though in varying shades. Since then I've saved some seed heads by covering them with a cut-up nylon stocking bag, letting them dry right on the plant before harvesting. Still some problems with weevils, however.
    Cedar_wa - I would never have thought of the scarlet runner beans if some friends of mine hadn't given me some when I mentioned the sunflower house - they are wonderful; they grow so fast!!! More pics in a few days - the yellows are about to bloom. :)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Here are the first yellows to bloom. I only took a close up instead of an overall pic since the few blooms don't have much of a dynamic impact yet, but there are so many buds that I should be able to get a pic very soon that will look like a real Sunflower House!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Early morning visitor to the House. She likes the scarlet runner beans!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    I made a mistake. I really thought that the sunflowers would follow the sun around and face the doorway by the afternoon, but not so. They only moved about a quarter of the way, so I can't get a decent pic of them except from the side of the House. Here's the south wall of the Sunflower House.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    A closeup of some of the different colored sunflowers...

  • samhain10 - 5a

    One of the Heavenly Blue morning glories and a volunteer. Note to self: the Heavenly Blues are not as hardy as these other less fancy ones, and are weeks behind in blooming. I'm already planning to have another house next year to see if I can't do it better. I'll be planting the non-blue morning glories as well.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    A better pic of the Sunflower House. Unfortunately, this is the back side. Will definitely need to move the door next year. :)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    A close-up of one of the dwarf sunflowers and a visitor.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    some of the morning glories, which are blooming like crazy right now...just not on the Sunflower House! :)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    OK - here's what it looks like from the front. Still waiting for a better pic where some of the shorter sunflowers around the door will be blooming. If anyone is still out there watching, there's bound to be at least one more pic to come.

  • tatreanna

    We're still here watching and enjoying! We think you did a great job.

    There was mighty concern from my 3 year old when you posted the bee picture. She was certain you had been stung and were sick. (She isn't up-to-speed on bees yet)

    Thank you for showing all the developments of your sunflower house!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Tatreanna - you can tell your little one that bees are my friends and would never sting me! And if they did, the frogs and toads would be mad and gobble them up! ;) Here's a little green frog sitting on a dahlia leaf in the Sunflower cottage garden.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    And here's a different kind of green tree frog who lives in another part of the garden. I have seen him on the flowers of this particular daylily plant on many different days. They have a very loud shrill voice, which when you hear it sounds like a bird. You can hardly believe it when you track it down and see how small the fellow really is!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Almost completed, though I'm still waiting to see the Heavenly Blue morning glories bloom on the House; they are blooming elsewhere, though.
    There are many points I'm making note of for next year, which I'll add here in case anyone else wants to create their own Sunflower House:
    1. The fence was a good idea; I just yesterday had to go out and tie up those tall sunflowers that were leaning from the weight of their heads. Having the fence in place to tie to was just what was needed. Nothing elaborate, just tall brush stakes that I sunk into the ground about a foot deep. Then secured with horizontal pieces tied on - that early pic shows it.
    2. The doorway should have been either east or south facing, instead of my west facing door. The sunflowers do turn to follow the sun, but not enough to ever line up with my doorway.
    3. I think it would have been better to plant all the tall sunflowers inside the fence line, and put dwarf sunflowers and possibly other flowers like marigolds, calendula or yellow cosmos on the outside of the fence line. Then, with the scarlet runner beans and morning glories planted beside the vertical stakes and some intermixed with the tall growing sunflowers, their blossoms should be very visible up until the point the sunflowers get big. Also, the outer fence line of lower growing flowers will help "close the walls", which right now are very see-through.
    4. The scarlet runner beans have already finished blooming - maybe I should make a second planting two weeks after the first to extend bloom longer.

    Any other thoughts for what would look good?

  • MaryStephenson

    Hey samhain your garden is Awesome.All your efforts have shown fruitful result.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Thanks, Mary! The Sunflower House is pretty well finished now; going to seed. It's been fun, and I'm hoping to do it again next year. If anyone else decides to put one up, I'd love to see it! :)

  • teisa

    The Sunflower House is Beautiful. We really enjoyed the work in progress photos. TFS!!

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Thanks, teisa! I'm hoping this will get some others to start some. I'm already making plans for next year. :)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    It seems only right to add a few more pics, to come full cycle...

  • samhain10 - 5a

    A fitting end for the Sunflower House.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Chickadees are the main diners at the Sunflower House Cafe.

  • Joomax

    Wow! You have post the nice images. I am happy to join this community. Flower increase the beauty of nature. I like sunflowers. Cheers :)

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Thank you, Joomax! I'm already planning for next year's Sunflower House!

  • SageMama

    Thanks so much for posting this fun idea along with so many beautiful pictures. I have two little girls and I think this is going into my garden plans for this year.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    SageMama - wonderful! I had such a good time with it. Try to get the scarlet runner beans to go with the sunflowers - they added alot to the charm. The girls will love watching the hummingbirds that show up. :)

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska

    Thank you for posting. At our community Children's Garden they planted a Sunflower Room. It was about 10' x 20' with a 2-ft. 'door' opening. Different classes walked over to the Sunflower Room to read books. Kids were invited to come anytime during the summer and bring their beach towel or blanket and sit in it, read, or whatever they wanted. It wasn't as elaborate as yours, but it was fun.
    Heidi

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Heidi - they are fun, aren't they? And as you can see if you follow the link below, you can add even more to it in the way of plantings. I think I will go for a 3rd year in the same location. But I have another project in the works - a Sunflower Path that will wind through my vegetable garden area. I saw something like this at a Big Boy restaurant this past fall. It was so unexpected and enchanting, I just have to try it!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Sunflower House #2

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Heidi - I meant to ask, do you have a picture of the Sunflower house at your community Children's Garden? If you see this post, please post a pic for me. I'd love to see some other Sunflower Houses!

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska

    I wish I had a photo, but I don't.

  • samhain10 - 5a

    Well, maybe next year...;)

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