Monday, September 22, 2014

Making a Gnome Garden - Miniature Gardening: Part 4

Surfing television channels, I unexpectedly turned to a show on our local station that led to a very fun Saturday morning. It was an episode of "Talk of the Town"  in which Marie and Kim made fairy gardens at The Potting Shed, a nearby arts and crafts supply store. The Potting Shed was already my best source for miniature garden supplies, but I didn't know they gave fairy garden workshops. I quickly enrolled in last Saturday morning's class.

The Potting Shed is an Aladin's Cave for the hobbyist. In addition to arts and crafts, they stock home decor items, potted plants, and gardening supplies such as potting soil. I always feel happy browsing this store.

The Potting Shed Store, Stroudsburg, PA

My instructor's name was Judy. She soon put me to work.

My lovely instructor, Judy.

My first task was to choose a container for my fairy garden. I decided to make an indoor garden this time and wanted something small and portable. There was a wide choice available, and my first pick was a beautiful glazed dish for bonsai. I decided, however, that I preferred a deeper dish to enable better root development -- although you don't want the plants to grow too big, so the shallow one would probably work. Judy and I agreed a container with a drainage hole would be best. I settled on an Italian terra cotta pot with a saucer.

Love the garden in the Radio Flyer wagon.

My next job was to choose ornamentation. Judy asked me what theme I had chosen. I told her I would like to make a gnome garden (as my previous mini gardens all have fairies). I chose a gnome watering a sunflower, a red cart, and a basket of apples. They were all pretty much in scale. I saw how they could tell a story.

There is a great choice of items for every theme of miniature garden.

So many options!

Now it was time to choose the plantings for my gnome garden. With the size of my container in mind, I chose just three plants. They were all house plants, originally grown in Florida, but I do not intend to place them outside where they would not survive our winter. None of the three are 'miniature plants' as such and can grow quite big, but that will take a while. I have no qualms replacing them if they grow too big, or just don't survive (I'm not very good with house plants.) I have compiled a resource of hardy miniature plants, such as miniature hostas, that I can refer to, if necessary. 

I spent a long time picking out three little plants.

I think Judy's next step is brilliant. It is one that my grandson, Jon, and I haven't employed with our previous mini garden attempts. She told me to tip over the container on to a piece of paper, draw round the pot, and cut out a template.

Then she instructed me to arrange the pieces and plants on the template before filling the container.This way it is easy to see if there are enough items, or not enough, or if the plants are too big, and if the pieces work well together. (One of my plants was too tall, so I changed it at that point.) Judy and I like the way the color red is repeated in my arrangement.

Arabica 'Coffee' at the back, Maidenhair 'Fritz Luthii' on the left, and Dragontail fern front right.

Following Judy's instructions, I filled the container as follows:
  1. Placed a piece of paper over the drainage hole
  2. Made a layer of small rocks
  3. Sprinkled charcoal over the stones (keeps the garden 'sweet')
  4. Filled up the dish with potting soil that I first mixed with a little water
  5. Added the gnome and apples
  6. Planted the plants
  7. Made a pathway by first cutting a strip of plastic then covering it with gravel and edging with tiny rocks. Placed the truck on the pathway
  8. Watered-in the plants
 Isn't the finished gnome garden adorable?

The Story of the Gnome Garden

Cedric the Gnome was an excellent gardener.  He grew flowers, vegetables, and fruit. One day, he picked red, juicy apples and carried them in his red cart to the front garden where he placed them for sale. He was just about to return his cart to the orchard when he noticed his prized sunflower was drooping. Quickly, he filled a water can and gave the flower a long drink. Cedric the Gnome was an excellent gardener.

Feel free to improve on the story, dear gardening friends. I'm sure my grandson, Jon, will be able to enhance it. I wish Jon was able to attend the class with me, but he lives too far away and, of course, school is back in session. You know how much he loves to help me in the garden. Here are the latest fairy gardens we made together before school started ...

The castle garden

Jon created a castle garden in a broken fountain (it leaks when pumping water and we haven't been able to fix it.) We put moss in the top dish for a soft resting place for a fairy. In the middle dish we put a castle (found in an aquarium store.) Jon used blue stones to make a moat. In the bottom I planted shade-loving hostas, ferns, and lamium. The castle garden is in my shady 'Stone Garden' area.

Jon created a super garden scene in an enameled tub that H.H. was bathed in as a baby. Jon couldn't believe his pappy was ever small enough to fit inside. 

The scene includes a house, a bicycle against a fence, a bench, and a fairy riding a bird, plus other garden furniture. The plants are moss, sedums, and succulents.

Well done, Jon. We will continue our hobby during next summer's vacation. Also, my thanks to Judy at the Potting Shed for a fun and productive morning! I learned a lot.

This posting is the fourth in my 'Making a Miniature Garden' series. You can read the other three parts here, here, and here.  If you haven't made one yet, do try this enjoyable horticultural activity, dear gardening friends!

Pamela x

Cedric and his Sunflower

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  1. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing, I will try to make it soon. Such a lovely miniature garden.

  2. The miniature garden is CUTE, Pam! I think I will have to try to make one. Thanks for sharing.... I also enjoy looking the miniature garden store through your photos. Have a graet week...


  3. I wonder, if I look will I find those tiny fairy garden accesories at a nursery or craft shop here? I wants a tiny red bicycle!

    1. Thanks again, Diana, for showing me how to activate 'Reply' to comments. You will receive a red bicycle when you are settled in your new home. ha. P. x

  4. You're really getting in to your stride with these miniature gardens. I've never seen any items for sale in the garden centres here for miniature gardens, I think they're missing out on a trick as the gardens are so lovely.

  5. Pam, what an enchanting project, I love the way this turned out. With all the choices available, I would be paralyzed trying to decide what to use. I love the way your instructor had you use the template for a layout guide, that is ingenious. (And by the way, I smiled when I read you're not terrific with house plants, I'm not either. I always feel sorry for them when someone gives me a live plant for the house.) What a perfect project for you and your grandson, memories to treasure for a lifetime.

  6. You have been busy! What a great job.
    The template idea is perfect and that store looks like a wonderful place to get lost in once temperatures drop and the snow flies.... Or this weekend!
    You have a talented castle-gardener there :)

  7. Oh my! I love that shop!!!!!
    You'd have to drag me it!
    And I love also your mini-garden.....such a neat idea. may have to 'borrow' that & find somewhere in our garden to squeeze one in.
    Thanks for an inspiring post xx

  8. Sooo cute! And what an absolutely fabulous store! I was actually in Stroudsburg this summer where we met some friends for a vacation. Had I known such a store was there...(though nobody else in the group is any kind of gardener, so I'm not sure if I could have dragged them there or not!) We have a nursery in a neighboring town that has a fair number of miniatures, but not to that extent. I love the little path you made with the rocks! How fun that you could make so many with your grandson too!

  9. That's adorable. Now I'm trying to decide if and where I have room for one of my own in the house!

  10. The little fairy garden that you made is quite adorable. I have to say my favourite projects though are the ones you did with your grandson. Perhaps that is because I can imagine the fun you must have had making them with him. I love the little castle that was added to the leaking fountain. What a great repurposing!

  11. Oh Pam how much fun and Jon has quite a gift as do you for creating these little worlds. I just love it.

  12. These are so great and fun! I'm a real fan of the little gardening world:)

  13. Still reading Pam!!! I haven't seen a single post I recognize yet!!! I am LOVING your blog.