Lights Camera Bloom! Philadelphia Flower Show-Part 1

"The Movies" was the theme this year for the Philadelphia Flower Show
“The Movies” was the theme this year for the Philadelphia Flower Show

As you enter the Philadelphia Flower Show, you feel that you are visiting an old time movie theater that has a marquee, bright lights, and excitement, and you even smell the buttery scent of popcorn. And yes, they actually were selling hot buttery popcorn freshly popped, like hotcakes!

Cars themed Rt 66 executed by Burke Brothers Landscapes
Cars themed Rt 66 executed by Burke Brothers Landscapes

The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is an annual event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in March. The oldest and largest indoor show, the spectacle features elaborate landscapes, and over-the-top floral creations.

Over the top floral creations
Over the top floral creations

Not only a flower show, visitors experience live shows and entertainment, culinary demonstrations, DIY workshops and lectures. I did a demo on Fairy gardens meets the movies called “Tinkerbell and Beyond” and showed everyone how to arrange a miniature landscape.  Tinkerbell, The Hobbit, and Fern Gully gardens complete with animals and fairies were put together on the demo stage and I had a great helper who was eager to play in the dirt. I had an assistant to help me with my demo on miniature gardens

I had an assistant to help me with my demo on miniature gardens.

My assistant made a great fairy garden with a little coaching
My assistant made a great fairy garden with a little coaching
Tinkerbells' miniature garden
Tinkerbells’ miniature garden

The aisles were thronged with people trying to get a good view of the very inventive interpretations of movies.

'Nightmare Before Christmas' was a big hit
‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ was a big hit

Four season containers were on display to demonstrate that you can have containers planted all year long.

Four season containers
Four season containers

But the movie exhibits were so interesting that I kept going back to them to check them out.

Chicken coop made out of an old car for 'Cars" movie

Chicken coop made out of an old car for “Cars” movie!

Ratatouille was so cute!
Ratatouille was so cute!
Ratatouille popped up everywhere
Ratatouille popped up everywhere
I loved these air plants that were upside down in dried sea urchins to mimic jelly fish-In Finding Nemo
I loved these air plants that were upside down in dried sea urchins to mimic jelly fish-In ‘Finding Nemo’
Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatters Tea Party
Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatters Tea Party
I loved this storefront of underwear made of flowers!
I loved this storefront of underwear made of flowers

The miniatures were wonderful as usual and I am doing another post on just the miniature gardens and scenes. Stay tuned for part 2.

My haul of plants from the show
My haul of plants from the show

 

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

Outdoor Fairy Garden- Go Wild!

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Fairy Garden-A stream running through it

At a recent Decorator Show House, I had the task of designing a space in a courtyard area that was a perfect location for a fairy garden. Fairy or miniature gardens have become an immensely popular gardening trend and I thought this would really draw attention to my area.

The centerpiece was going to be my fairy house that I made on an earlier post out of bark, branches, and antlers. Go to http://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-realm-of-fairy-creating-fairy-gardens/ to see how to make this. But first, I had to prepare the site for the house by creating a small contained garden in the landscape with fencing, hills, plants, and moss.

A fairy house under construction
A fairy house under construction

Construction Schedule

  • Site

    I found the perfect spot under a large Chamaecyparis tree that had no lower limbs. The upper limbs would hang over and shelter the area and create a ‘ceiling’.  There was a straggly yew that had to go.  It was chain sawed down and the leaves cleaned up. The drain pipe was relocated and the wheel stayed as a great visual element.

    Selected site with a scraggly yew off to the right and backed by a great iron wheel
    Selected site with a scraggly yew off to the right and backed by a great iron wheel
  • Fence

    A fence had to be added to delineate the space.  My curly pussy willow was looking good so I cut a bunch and wired it together. I kept it in a round tote for a week to keep that nice rounded shape.

Wiring curly pussy willow together to make a fence
Wiring curly pussy willow together to make a fence
Keep the fence in a round tote for a week to keep the rounded shape
Keep the fence in a round tote for a week to keep the rounded shape

To keep the fence firmly in place, I took short pieces of wire stakes and drove them into the ground at the perimeter of the fence and inserted the bundled pussy willow onto it. This will keep the fence from moving when I fill the interior space with plants and moss. I made an arbor out of the same material and placed that at the entrance, inserting the ends into the soil.

Little stake holding the fence in place
Little stake holding the fence in place
Pussy willow fence in place
Pussy willow fence in place

I experimented with different positionings of the pathway and house and once satisfied, I remove everything to start placing the accessories. Once I knew where the pathway would go, everything else fell into place.

Getting the layout right
Getting the layout right

Mounding up soil and pressing it firmly in place to mimic hills and valleys made the space more interesting.

Then, I placed the largest items, like the houses – the bark and a gourd house, and the bridge. Once situated, I started with the plants. I chose plants that were colorful enough to contrast with the moss covering that was planned to top everything off. I planted my plants both inside the fence and outside. I used a couple a miniature conifers, violas, polka dot plants, ivy, ferns,  armeria, and saxifrages.

  • Stream

    To construct the stream, I first placed a strip of landscape cloth on the ground as the base for the stream bed. This prevents the gravel and stones from washing into the underlying soil and keeping it clean.

Laying a strip of landscape cloth, a base of clean gravel on top
Laying a strip of landscape cloth, a base of clean gravel on top
  • Mood Moss

I added my pathway and topped everything off with a layer of mood moss.  Mood moss is a moundy, springy moss, much nicer than regular sheet moss. It gave dimension to the whole garden. Moss also gives the garden a finished look and a good backdrop for all the accessories and plants. I bought a case of this from a local wholesale florist.

  • Final Touches

To the stream, I added colored gravel and small boulders. Colorful glass balls were pressed into the moss to add color. Wheelbarrows, chairs, and various other fairy accessories were added on top of the moss.

Outdoor fairy garden
Outdoor fairy garden
  • Upkeep

To keep this garden going, I will spray it with a fine mist attachment of the hose to keep it moist, once every couple of days depending on rainfall. The garden is in the shade so it will not dry out quickly.  It is important to keep the moss moist but not drenched. The plants need to be pruned and groomed every few weeks to keep them small.  The garden should last the entire season and will need renovation next spring.

Setting up the arbor at the entrance
Setting up the arbor at the entrance

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