All children love “secret places.” Even the grownup child can find refuge in quiet hidden areas of the garden. Why not create a special place for a special child or for your inner child – a sunflower house. You can plant four giant sunflowers- Helianthus– in a square about four feet apart. When the sunflowers are about a foot tall, plant morning glories (Ipomoea) around the base of each flower. Let the morning glory vines climb up around the sunflowers.
When the flowers reach a comfortable height, about six feet, tie a web of strings between them on three sides and across the top. Coax the morning glories to twine across the strings forming a room. The sunflower house won’t last forever but what a delightful place to curl up and read a book or just to daydream. You might also try a teepee style house with tall supports, bamboo stakes or fallen branches. Tie them together at the top, weave strings across the open spaces, and plant any fast growing vine such as morning glories or hyacinth bean (Dolichos). Be sure to leave an opening for entry. Use your imagination for materials and enjoy a secret place all your own.
Pat Turner, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service