Use these simple instructions to plant a summer sunflower house for kids, grandkids or yourself.
• Pick a spot in full sun and well-drained soil. Decide the size of the house. A good suggestion would be a 6-by-9-foot rectangle.
• Leaving an opening for the door, dig a trench several inches deep around the perimeter.
• With each sunflower seed, plant a seed of morning glory.
• Cover the seeds with soil, then water them in. As the sunflowers grow, the morning glories should begin to wind up the stalks. Soon, you will have a bee-attracting spectacle of yellow and blue.
• Once the sunflowers reach 4 to 5 feet tall, or as high as you want the roof to be, lace string loosely between the sunflower stems. The result will look like a spider web of string.
The morning glories should climb across the string, creating the roof for the house. In heavy or infertile soils, the morning glories may not get tall enough to make the roof, try another vine, like hyacinth bean or scarlet runner bean.
Although sunflower houses are usually grown for children, I’ve seen them used by older gardeners as a site for twilight cocktail parties.
Better than the real thing
Making concrete paving stones for your new terrace project could not only save you money but just might be the better value in terms of appearance. Making concrete pavers involves a lot of busy work making forms and mixing up concrete, but otherwise this is a fairly simple technique that even beginners can handle.
Check out products designed to be used in concert with the cement. I’ve used cement fortifiers to improve the cement bond to the surface of a large leaf when making cement leaf impressions
Make the forms about 4 inches deep, layer with steel reinforcers, then pour the concrete. Follow up each poured paver by using a textured rubber mat pressed into the surface of the still wet cement.
After the concrete has dried, remove the forms and use chipping hammers to chop around the edges of the ‘stones’ to give them a rough and irregular look. Then apply several different colors of concrete stain to give them a mottled look.
Use as you would flagstone without all the hassle of having to find large real stones.
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.