At it’s peak in mid-late August, the annual Sunflower House at Billings Farm is a breathtaking and magical sight to behold. A colorful palette ranging from orange and red to golden yellow will welcome guests to roam, play, and take lots of photographs! Billed as the largest sunflower house in the United States with a footprint of 20,000 square feet, guests are invited to wander the pathways through the ever-evolving living floral house.
This year’s free-flowing design includes six rooms with connecting hallways made from 100 varieties of sunflowers with heights ranging from 1- 12 feet. Using approximately 8,500 seeds, the planting was performed “en plein air” with broad-brush strokes of blooms of all shapes and sizes laid out in a free form collaboration between Woodstock Inn’s master gardeners Ben Pauly and Taylor Heirs. The seed names include fun varieties like Moonwalker, Vanilla Ice, Joker, Velvet Queen, Gypsy Charmer, and Bert, and adorable ones like Teddy Bear, Baby Bear and Giant Teddy.
Watch as the flowers transform right before your eyes over the next six to eight weeks. By mid-August you will be surrounded by full sunny blooms in “rooms” and “hallways” formed by 100 varieties in vibrant reds and golden yellows– some reaching up to 12 feet tall! Peak bloom will typically show brightest around the end of August through the first week of September with the giants reaching full height in mid-September, all weather dependent. Make sure to bring your camera for memorable shots you won’t want to miss.
The Annual Sunflower House is created by the Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Master Gardener, Benjamin Pauly. The Sunflower House officially opens in late July, and the sunflowers typically bloom from August through early September. Come see the Sunflower House as it grows and changes!
Interested in a private photo session in the Sunflower House for yourself or your family? Schedule a private photo session today.
The Billings Farmstead Gardens
The 8,000-square foot Billings Farmstead Gardens features:
- Seven distinct gardens in one cohesive garden experience
- Paths, trellises, arches and tunnels which will create a sense of magic and wonder where you can explore, relax, learn, gather, and play
- A variety of gardening methods and techniques that can be used in home gardens
Learn what was planted and maintained in a kitchen garden by the daughters of Farm Manager, George Aiken in the 1890’s. History meets local heritage with heirloom plants selected from an 1886 Billings Farm seed order, including Vermont varieties: Bull Noes Peppers, Bear Paw Popcorn, and Tall Telephone Peas.
During WWI & WWII, food became scarce in the United States. With much of the population overseas fighting, few workers remained to care for the country’s farms. To solve this problem, the government encouraged citizens to plant “Victory Gardens” in their own backyards and in public places like parks and schools. By growing their own food, people took pressure off farms and the canning industry, whose metal went to support the war effort. By the end of WWI, over five million Victory Gardens existed in the U.S. During WWII that number rose to 18 million. Victory Gardens proved so successful that at one time they produced about 1/3 of the vegetables in this country.
At Billings Farm, when many of the laborers went to war, the “Woman’s Land Army of Vermont” sent volunteers to work the farm. These “farmerettes” helped keep Billings Farm running during WWI. During WWII, the farm offered over 3 acres of land for people to plant their own Victory Gardens. Locals harvested food from over 40 plots on the farm.
Historic gardens of WWI (farmerettes) and WWII (Victory Gardens) are recreated in this area of our heirloom gardens. You can observe the growing cycle of victory garden favorites. We will be growing: Sweet corn, lettuce, russet potatoes, onion, cucumbers, carrots, summer squash, green beans, parsnip, melons, cauliflower, kale, spinach, radishes, peas, beets, eggplant, okra, kohlrabi, swiss chard, pole beans, and broccoli.
This garden invites bees, butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects to alight on perennial plants and flowers.
Learn about the importance of pollinators and see how you can build a bee houses, hummingbird feeders, Damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Learn to grow pollinator friendly plants like: bee balm, milkweed, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, oregano, borage, lavender, broccoli, fennel, nasturtium, honeysuckle, coral bells, mealy cup sage, and larkspur.
This low-maintenance, self-caring garden mimics the balance and beneficial relationships found in nature through perennial plantings.
Chef’s & Pizza Gardens
Discover delicious ingredients for fresh, healthy, home-grown meals. Did you know you can find everything you need to make a pizza on a farm? The plants in this garden are all ingredients for the perfect pie. Wheat gets ground into flour for the crust, tomatoes become sauce, and herbs and veggies make for tasty toppings. Beyond the garden, see the fields of hay which feeds our cows. Their milk becomes delicious cheese—great for a pizza! We will be growing wheat, tomatoes, oregano, basil, savory, bell peppers, onion, garlic (planted in the fall).
This garden is filled with herbs for cooking, tea, and medicinal use in a mix of annuals and perennials.
Seasonal gardening programs take place in and around the Garden Shed. Learn about the herbs, heirloom vegetables, and apples grown here and how they were preserved to last the winter. Enjoy Herbal Tea Happy Hours or just lounging on our shaded Garden Shed porch.