Miniature Christmas Garden Craze

 

Globe terrarium
Globe terrarium
Globe terrarium sitting on a Hopkins desk top
Globe terrarium sitting on a Hopkins desk top

Maybe it is just me. Since I had an order for 40 of my miniature gardens as gifts at the local Johns Hopkins for the staff of one of the hospitals, I am going crazy with Christmas decorating in miniature. Instead of  dreaming about sugarplums, I’m dreaming of miniature gardens in an endless line that I am decorating! I love making these small creations that people can enjoy for months to come.

I love this little footed terrarium for tiny scenes
I love this little footed terrarium for tiny scenes

For my popular posts on making miniature gardens, go to Miniature Gardens-Whimisical Creations, Fairy Gardens, and Fairytale Christmas.

Mini garden with gnome
Mini garden with gnome

It merely takes a small glass terrarium container, bonsai pot, or low terra cotta container and you can make your own. For materials, I use small Christmas balls, reindeer moss, miniatures, sheet moss, and small potted plants from a local nursery. I use either woodland plants for a moist container or succulents for a drier one.

Gnome home
Gnome home

For details on making gnome homes in a cut away pot, go to Gnome Home.  You need to cut a chunk out of a terra cotta pot to create this and I give you instructions on how to cut the pot.

Woodland garden
Woodland garden
Mini succulent garden
Mini succulent garden
A succulent container that you would keep on the dry side
A succulent container that you would keep on the dry side
A woodland Christmas scene that you would water a little more
A woodland Christmas scene that you would water a little more

All of the plants will get much larger and can be kept in bounds for at least a year. Transplanting and replanting would be in order when the plants grow too large for the container and you could keep the planter going for several years or more.

Christmas miniature garden
A larger Christmas garden
I used this Christmas tree ornament for a tiny snowman
I used this Christmas tree ornament for a tiny snowman

Step By Step

Step by step for making miniature gardens
Step by step for making miniature gardens
  • Place potting soil in container with drainage: Alternatively, if you have a glass type terrarium, place gravel in bottom with some horticultural charcoal ( few tablespoons, available at garden centers)

  •  Plant a variety of plants with different textures and colors, starting with the largest ones first; I used from 3 to 5 plants for each small garden

  • If a woodland garden, I like to place moss in between the plants to hide soil; If a succulent garden, place small gravel on surface

  • Place any pathways, ornaments, reindeer moss, or gnomes at the very end; I like to use colored glass chunks for added color

  • Water thoroughly until the soil is saturated and place in a filtered sun spot for woodland scenes and full sun for succulent ones

  • For care, I stick my finger down into the soil to see if it is moist or not; For succulent gardens in the winter water every few weeks, and for woodland ones, water about once a week, depending on how warm and dry your house is

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Mini gardens dropped off at  Johns Hopkins
Mini gardens dropped off at Johns Hopkins

The Realm of Fairy- Creating Fairy Gardens

Demonstrating at the Philadelphia Flower Show with my loyal helper, Gretchen
Demonstrating at the Philadelphia Flower Show with my loyal helper, Gretchen

The Philadelphia Flower Show Gardener’s Studio

I am going to present at the Philadelphia Flower Show Gardener’s Studio on March 4th and am very excited about the topic.  Since the theme for the flower show is Brilliant!, which is celebrating Great Britain, I thought that designing fairy gardens would fit right in, kind of like gardening with”A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream” in mind.

I am frantically creating, and designing miniature gardens, houses, and fairies so that I am well supplied with examples to display. I sold most of the ones that I made in the spring, so am starting from square one in getting ready.

But if you can’t make it to the Flower Show, here are my guidelines and helpful hints about creating a masterpiece yourself.

Miniature Plants Suitable for Fairy Gardens:

There are tons more that are available, but I find these work well for me.

Acorus, Sweet Flag                                        

Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’

Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'
Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ (Photo credit: The Greenery Nursery)

Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’

Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’

Alchemilla erythropoda, Dwarf Lady’s Mantle

Armeria – Thrift

Campanula ‘Blue Waterfall’

Dianthus ‘Tiny Rubies’

Dwarf Boxwoods

Armeria maritima
Armeria maritima (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dwarf Conifers

Dwarf Ivies

Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’, St Johns Wort

Lamium ‘White Nancy’

Lamium ‘Purple Dragon’

Leptinella ‘Platt’s Black’

Lysimachia ‘Minutissima’, Creeping Jenny

Raoulia australis and Leptinella squalida 'Pla...
Raoulia australis and Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ (Photo credit: brewbooks)

Mazus reptans

Ophiopogon ‘Nana’, dwarf Mondo grass

Sagina, Irish Moss

Saxifrage

Sedum ‘Blue Spruce’

Sedums
Sedums (Photo credit: Eric Hunt.)

Sedum ‘Blue Carpet’

Sedum ‘Lemon Gem’

Sedum ‘Ogon’

Sedum ‘Angelina’

Sempervivum, Hens and Chicks

Thyme

Violas

English: Cultivated violas at the show.
English: Cultivated violas at the show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sources for Accessories and Materials:

The woods and fields around your house!

Michael’s Craft Stores

Amazon.com

weetrees.com

plowhearth.com

etsy.com

thefairysgarden.com

save-on-crafts.com (one of my favorite sites for generally everything crafty!)

Model train and dollhouse stores are great also

Materials for Making Fairy Houses Outside

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Slab of bark

Bark

Acorns

Pine Cones

Magnolia leaves

Mullein Leaves (soft and fuzzy – makes good blankets)

Lambs Ears Leaves (soft and fuzzy)

Deer Antlers

Pebbles
Pebbles (Photo credit: andrew dowsett)

Moss, Sheet, Bun, and Reindeer

Smooth Pebbles (get these in the floral dept at Michaels)

Beach Glass and Pebbles (Michaels)

Seeds and Pods

Milk Weed Pods

English: wave polished glass fragments from Gu...
English: wave polished glass fragments from Guantanamo’s Glass Beach. Original caption: :Glass Beach at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay is known for the colorful pieces of glass that wash up on its shore. – JTF Guantanamo photo by Harriot Johnston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teasels

Twisted branches

Driftwood

Shells, starfish

Sheep’s fleece

Potting Mix – Use a good quality soilless mix

Taking Care of Your Garden, both inside and outside

Mister
Mister
  • Do not let moss dry out in the summer, spritz with a mister
  • For portable containers, set them outside in high shade for the summer if the plants are tender bring them in for the winter and keep it on the dry side – the moss will go dormant
  • Fertilize sparingly – you want the plants to grow slowly!
  • Trim and prune regularly to keep plants in bounds
  • Every few months, tune up the garden by replacing plants that die or grow too large

Creating an Outdoor Fairy House

When spring comes, I like to make a fairy house to set into the garden. Each year it is different. Here is one that I made this year.

Fairy House for the outdoors
Fairy House for the outdoors

To put this together, I gathered some large pieces of bark. I got mine from a tree cutter.  The bark was about 1 1/2 inches thick and curved so I cut pieces and glued them together to form a house about 15 inches tall and 12 inches around. Then I cut a hole through the bark for the door.  I traced and cut a circle out of wonderflex which is a composite material used for theater costumes, for the roof. It is very strong and water proof. I twisted the wonderflex into a cone shape and hot glued it together. This formed the basis for my roof.

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Wonderflex which is available on line

I then took a very large Sugar Pine cone that I picked up at Lake Tahoe years ago. It was about 1 foot tall! I took apart the scales which are nice and large to cover the roof.

Sugar Pine Cone which I tore apart
Sugar Pine Cone which I tore apart
Hot gluing the scales to the roof
Hot gluing the scales to the roof

I hot glued the roof to the base and added some more natural things to make the house more interesting – antler pieces, and twisted branches. Allium seed heads are great additions.

Adding more natural things to the house
Adding more natural things to the house

You can set this as the centerpiece of your outdoor fairy garden, and put fencing, paths, and landscape around it with moss and plants. The house should last several seasons if you take it in for the winter. I hope to see you in Philadelphia!

Tiny miniature garden with a trellis and grapevine
Tiny miniature garden with a trellis and grapevine
I used an old stump to make this fairy house
I used an old stump to make this fairy house
A hanging globe planted with tiny plants
A hanging globe planted with tiny plants

Broken Pot Garden- Home for a Gnome!

Broken Pot Gnome Garden

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To see un updated version of this post, go to http://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/happy-gnoming-home-for-a-gnome/

Christmas gnome home
Christmas gnome home

I saw this on Pinterest one day and pinned it to a board and forgot about it. But I noticed it the other day and decided to make it. It was harder to do than I thought because cutting a terra cotta pot is not easy. So easy to shatter and crack, terra cotta is extremely hard.

Gnome home
Gnome home

I had a dremel, an electric cutting tool available at Home Depot, and thought that was the best way to go about it, but wasn’t sure.  So, I called the 800 number on the Dremel web site and they were very helpful and recommended using a carbide tile cutting tip, which worked like a charm! I did it outside because of all the dust it threw out, and wore goggles and a face mask. Also, I soaked the pot before cutting to soften it a little.

Gnome home tutorial
Gnome home tutorial

Here is the process:

Gather materials-dremel, goggles, face mask, pot, carbide tip
Gather materials-dremel, goggles, face mask, pot, carbide tip
Cutting the terra cotta pot with a dremel and carbide tip
Cutting the terra cotta pot with a dremel and carbide tip
Big chunk cut out
Big chunk cut out
Place the piece in the pot and start adding potting mix
Place the piece in the pot and start adding potting mix
Add a pathway of smooth stones and plant
Add a pathway of smooth stones and plant
Broken Pot Fairy/Gnome Home
Broken Pot Fairy/Gnome Home
Broken pot gardens
Broken pot gardens

MANTS Show – The Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show- Part 1

Beautiful arrangement in a wicker chair displaying Foxborough Nursery's plant wares
Beautiful arrangement in a wicker chair displaying Foxborough Nursery’s plant wares

Everything New (and Old!) in the Gardening World

Baltimore Convention Center 2005
Baltimore Convention Center 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year right after New Year’s parties have wound down and the confetti is a recent memory, I make my annual pilgrimage to the MANTS Show (Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show) at the Baltimore Convention Center. I look forward with anticipation to see old friends, new ideas or old re-packaged ones, and buy some new exciting products. And the best part is the event is in my backyard!  The biggest show of its kind on the East Coast, with almost 1000 exhibitors taking up the maximum available space on one level at the Baltimore Convention Center, the MANTS show has exhibitors from all over the country and the world. Starting in Williamsburg Va in 1971 with 64 exhibitors, and moving to Hunt Valley, MD, in the 70’s, and finally finding a home at the convention center in Baltimore, it has become known as ‘The Masterpiece of Trade Shows’.

Sign exhibit at Popsignage.com
Sign exhibit at Popsignage.com

A Plan is Essential!!!

With so many exhibitors and so much ground to cover, I decided to start early on Wednesday morning for the opening and attend for the full three days. In earlier years, I attempted to see everything in one long marathon day, but was exhausted! I go with a plan, looking at the exhibitor list beforehand, to see which exhibits I can’t miss, and adding a few new ones that I want to try. Once you get into the hall, the mass of exhibits can be overwhelming, so you must have a plan of attack.

Aquatic plants in floating rings, Goji berry plants at Spring Meadow Nursery, a miniature garden at Meehans Miniatures
Aquatic plants in floating rings, Goji berry plants at Spring Meadow Nursery, a miniature garden at Meehans Miniatures

HERShovel by Green Heron Tools

A new vendor that I wanted to look at was Green Heron Tools that was billed as “High quality farm and garden tools for women”.  I was very skeptical because I have seen a lot of boondoggle tools made for women that were laughable – not pink, but flimsy and not sturdy enough to withstand abuse. But once I went up to the booth and picked up their custom designed shovel, I knew I had to have it! The company is run by a mother/ daughter team, and their team designed and tested the shovels themselves, and call it the HERSh0vel. Started in 2008 in nearby Pennsylvania, Green Heron Tools, has been featured in Organic Gardening Magazine at http://www.organicgardening.com/living/womens-work. The shovel/spade is engineered to maximize the power and the lower center of gravity of a women’s body and has a great hand feel. I was hooked.

Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger showing off their HERShovel at MANTS
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger showing off their HERShovel at MANTS

Designed as a shovel – spade hybrid, it is light weight and has a large convenient digging handle and comes in 3 sizes.  I am 5’3″ tall and the middle size was perfect for me. The price was $57, which I thought was reasonable for a well made tool. Most of the professional shovels that I have used tend to be very heavy, and the light weight of this shovel was an eye opener.  The company sells other products from different companies made for women, but the shovel is one that they designed themselves. They are working on a tiller made just for women slated to come out in 2014 and I am anxious to see that.  My tiller is much too large and cumbersome for me to handle, and I would love to have something more manageable.

Green Heron
Green Heron – One of the few birds that uses tools!

Miniatures!!!

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Since I sell a lot of miniature/fairy gardens in the spring, I was happy to see several vendors carrying a good variety of tiny furniture and other products for fairy gardens. It seems like the gardening product world is always a couple of years behind the trends that I see happening in my business, but it looks like they caught up this time.  I have had to order online in the past for these items but it looks like they are mainstream now.

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A display of bonsai at Meehans Miniatures

Stay tuned for part 2, (Goji Berries and my incredible haul at the end!!!)