Category Archives: Miniature Garden

The Holidays…Making Memories

Every so often the wonderful opportunity we’ve been granted to be a brief part of our customers’ lives and help create memories for their little ones becomes clear. This moment of clarity usually happens on hectic holiday afternoons when the light is waning and the greenhouse is at its most beautiful.

On those crazy, busy days we catch glimpses between our work tasks of young families with little ones gazing at the animated Santa Claus display we put up each year. Smiling, we watch the children pet the garden shop cats sleeping there (It was their favorite spot this year!) as parents or grandparents take pictures.

 

Perhaps its because I’m getting older and my childhood memories seem more distant that appreciating this opportunity occurs to me more often. This year a family with a tiny boy in tow told me he remembered our Santa from the year before. Creating memories begins very, very young…

Memories are made in other ways too, with special decorations brought out and lovingly placed, delicate heirlooms carefully unwrapped for another season, and the “best tree ever” standing proud and tall, its lights and sparkly ornaments twinkling in darkened rooms.

A few weeks ago a favorite project reappeared, a family holiday tradition that we’ve been fortunate to have become a part of. Every year this particular family bought a new tiny elf for the children and, as their children grew older and had families of their own, for grandchildren. These elves would be brought out each season, and it wasn’t Christmas without them.

One year the owner of the elf tradition spotted a garden tray filled with tiny poinsettias, cut greens and mosses, a beautiful miniature garden that she decided would be the perfect setting for her collection of family elves. She loved it so much she brought it back the following Christmas to be “reworked” for a new season.

I look forward to seeing her each year now and enjoy creating a new garden for her elves. She told me this year her grandchildren asked her where it was.

 

It’s coming, she told them. The pictures here give you some idea of what they are enjoying this year – a river, a pond with a tire swing, and lots of places for her elves to perch.

I hope another happy memory is about to be made, this one on December 25th, when a pretty miniature garden is presented to the 11 year old girl who said it’s all she really wants for Christmas.

As I finished putting the last bits of moss in and repositioned the tiny hummingbird feeder, my mind wandered as I imagined being the young girl seeing this little garden for the first time on Christmas morning.

Smiling to myself, I stood there studying each little piece, trying to see it through her eyes.

Sometimes the memories we make are our own…

By Kris Blevons

 

These Miniature Gardens are Centerpieces…

 

At the end of a path, there's a bench with a book...

At the end of a path, there’s a bench with a book…

I recently received an email letting me know of a much anticipated  visit to Birmingham of a certain Connecticut gardener, Douglas Thomas. She was coming on the invitation of a friend and member of one of the oldest garden clubs in the city, and, to celebrate her visit, a joint meeting of  two Garden Club of America groups had been arranged at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Through an arbor...the cat wants the goldfish in that bowl!

Through an arbor…the cat wants the goldfish in that bowl!

The miniature gardens shown here were designed as centerpieces for a small gathering in a private home to honor her visit. Ms. Thomas gardens on a grand scale, so the hostess and I decided having miniature gardens as part of the tablescape was bound to

A seating area under a  Chamaecyparis "tree" and a pond, with sedum 'Ogon' as a "groundcover"...

A seating area under a Chamaecyparis “tree” and a pond, with sedum ‘Ogon’ as a “groundcover”…

be something unexpected and fun. First a little background:

A croquet set and puppy underneath a chamaecyparis "tree"...

A croquet set and puppy underneath a chamaecyparis “tree”…

A gazing ball in the distance...

A gazing ball in the distance…

Douglas Thomas is only  the third owner of Twin Maples, a beautiful 400 acre estate in Connecticut. She would be in Birmingham in early February speaking on it and of the 40 acre meadow that she and her late husband, Wilmer, created with the help of noted Pennsylvania landscape designer Larry Weaner.

On the table...

On the table…

In 2011, the Foundation for Landscape Studies awarded her their Placemaker Award. See the link HERE to read more about this award.

Delving more thoroughly to learn more before going to hear her speak,  I came across a New York Times article from 2008, which described the meadow in their headline as “The Natural Look, With Much Effort.” This phrase could certainly be applied to any garden I thought, including miniature versions!

Miniature Garden Centerpiece - 2 years earlier...

Miniature Garden Centerpiece – 2 years earlier…

These particular miniature gardens had actually  been created two years earlier for another eventful gathering, and, due to the owner’s  exceptional care,  many of the original plants were still thriving. The chamaecyparus “trees” had grown (Just as real trees do!),  and the succulent landscape around one of the ponds only needed a bit of pinching back. Still, there were areas that needed fresh “landscape” plantings.

On the table...2 years later...

On the table…2 years later…

Some of these new plants included the addition of a fresh angelvine climbing on the arbor and air plants at the entrance to the succulent garden. In another,  sedum ‘Ogon’ was added near a pond as a “groundcover”. More tiny ferns and some selaginella were added to the existing tiny leaved maidenhair fern  in the largest garden, and beyond it a strawberry begonia was planted to frame the rabbit hutch. Great care was taken to place plants with like water needs together.

The path leads to a seating area beyond the rabbit hutch...

The path leads to a seating area beyond the rabbit hutch…

With careful attention all of the “hardscape” paths and placement of small pieces were  redone for each garden, and some redesigning of certain areas was accomplished as well. This takes a good bit of time and a lot of patience, but,  above all, it’s quite a bit of fun too.

Through the arbor...

Through the arbor…

It really is exactly like laying out a real garden, with decisions of where the paths need to be, what materials they should be made from, what they lead to, and more questions  needing to be answered to make it realistic. Scale of materials is very important too and can be difficult to accomplish, but it makes all the difference!

 

 

I received a phone call from the hostess the morning after the dinner party. “Your ears should have been burning,” she said. “They were a hit! Everyone enjoyed them, and kept finding new things the more they looked at them.”  What a compliment, and how kind of her to pass it on.

Take a look HERE for another post on miniature gardens, and type in “miniature gardens” in the search field for more.

 

Our Miniature Garden Wonderland – A Year Later…Look How It’s Grown!

Sedum 'Ogon', and Hen and Chicks in the "landscape"

Sedum ‘Ogon’, and Hen and Chicks in the “landscape”

Last March, during the doldrums of spring break (Does anyone not leave town that week??!), we decided to have a little fun of our own, creating our miniature garden table.  Well, it’s been almost a full year later, and it’s still growing strong, having been tended to faithfully… like any garden should be, right?

A miniature landscape

A miniature landscape

 

Rhypsalis, sedums and hen and chicks...with a peperomia at the very top...

Rhypsalis, sedums and hen and chicks…with a peperomia at the very top…

 

 

Some features didn’t last through repeated watering and little children playing however. Many of the Skulp-It figures either disintegrated, disappeared, or, in the case of the gardener who looked suspiciously like owner, Billy Angell, somehow lost his head (Literally!) and was banished from the garden…

The peperomia and holly fern have needed some judicious clipping...

The peperomia and holly fern have needed some judicious clipping…

 

The house at the top of the hill...

The house at the top of the hill…

 

 

 

The cute treehouse at the very top  was finally replaced with another little cottage, the yoga class on their mats are taking a break, and the oversized people have been replaced with tiny gnomes, a garden table and various and assorted accessories, including a tire swing over the waterfall.

Variegated strawberry begonia, ajuga 'Chocolate Chip', ferns and pilea have been growing quite happily together...

Variegated strawberry begonia, ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’, ferns and pilea have been growing quite happily together…

 

Lemon Button Fern, Pilea 'Aquamarine', and Kalanchoe 'Copper Spoon'

Lemon Button Fern, Pilea ‘Aquamarine’, and Kalanchoe ‘Copper Spoon’

 

 

 

And the plants!! Some, like the tiny pepperomia,  have grown to enormous proportions, requiring judicious clipping to keep in bounds. The ferns have also loved their space, spreading up and out in every direction.

Air plants have done well on the succulent side of our planting...

Air plants have done well on the succulent side of our planting…

 

 

 

 

On the other side, the succulents have settled in nicely, filling every available nook and cranny, spilling over the beach “caves” and onto the “beach” before being clipped back.

A miniature violet flower garden...

A miniature violet flower garden…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our fun project  will certainly continue to evolve. Just  the other day Molly painted a backdrop of a blue sky with puffy clouds, so it will always be nothing but blue skies in our garden…

An Old Table Turned Into a Miniature Wonderland…

Molly...the beginning.

Molly…the beginning.

If you’ve kept up with some of the posts of projects we’ve done at Oak Street Garden Shop, you might realize we enjoy creating fun things as well as helping customers with plants and gardening. Our latest project started life as an old table…one that perhaps had seen better days.

Rigging the waterfall...

Rigging the waterfall…

We’d all discussed creating a larger miniature garden display using hills and had seen many miniature garden displays on various sites online through Pinterest and other places.  I showed everyone a really large display that even had a waterfall and “boulder” filled stream. Well, we wanted a waterfall too!

The cottage Jamie embellished...

The cottage Jamie embellished…

So, the idea of a waterfall and hills became the starting point. Our display would need a miniature garden house, and Jamie embellished a rather plain one with the addition of “stones” on the front and moss, lichen and succulents on its roof. Now it looked like the charming cottage we envisioned.Lauren, Adding Plants...

The Hillside...

 

 

 

 

In just a few days our sad little table became the home to a sea shell laden beach, grottos, the aforementioned waterfall, and various places to walk and sit. Little by little it grew in proportions with the addition of tiny houseplants on the right hand side of the display and succulents on the other.

Lauren's treehouse...

Lauren’s treehouse…

Lauren worked for days on the “treehouse”, starting with a piece of tree root and adding a miniature garden cottage. She slowly added more and more to this hideaway in a tree, including a pulley to haul up a case of  wine, a hammock, and a rope swing over the waterfall below. Billy helped secure it so it wouldn’t topple.  I may do a whole post on this alone!

Tiny sunbathers...

Tiny sunbathers…

 

 

 

Pinkie contributed her arts background and brought in some Sculp It!  modeling clay that Molly, Lauren and Bert used to fashion tiny figures.  Sunbathers on the beach, an entire yoga class under the tree house,  (On their yoga mats!)  a figure that looks suspiciously like owner, Billy Angell, tending the garden in front of the cottage, and more. Two rather large people – not quite in scale with the rest, but much too fun not to include, are seated at the bistro table front and center.image

Adding more plants...

Adding more plants…

Jamie and I continued to plant and add more items – a frog on a bench, a turtle on a “boulder” a birdhouse, benches, and so much more. All the while more ideas got bounced around – a customer even suggested adding a gnome – what a fun idea! People invariably made the comment that they kept “finding” more as they gazed at this miniature wonderland in progress.image

Of course we had the world of the greenhouse at our fingertips to create this – including tiny houseplant ferns, air plants, aluminum plants, Scotch and Irish moss, selaginella and even tiny pitcher plants. Plants that required the same moisture were grouped together. This meant the succulents and plants that like to be drier naturally ended up separate. Hen and chicks, haworthias and sedums were tucked in the sphagnum moss and chicken wire “hillside”.

 

Tiny tree slice stepping stones make a path to the “beach”.  Walk a little further around and it gets rockier and less “beachy”, but there’s a fire pit for a night time party…and cliff caves to explore too. Rough rock steps lead the way back up to the cottage from here.

A work in progress...

A work in progress…

 

 

The spring planting season is about to begin and people will be wandering the nursery to find plants for their outdoor spaces and planters. I hope they’ll make their way into the greenhouse with their friends and families to see our own “garden in miniature” and that it will bring a smile…

Tending the garden...

Tending the garden…

 

 

 

As you might be able to tell from these pictures, our project is not quite complete…but what garden ever is?

 

 

 

 

 

More Plantings In Glass – Winter Terrariums

Terrarium & Frogs

Miniature garden frogs are at home in a terrarium!

Winter is the time to plant in the greenhouse, and plan for spring. After the holidays when it’s quiet is the time we plant and plan…terrariums can be time consuming, so this is the perfect time of year to design them.

 

 

 

 

 

A tall terrarium Molly planted...

A tall terrarium Molly planted…

Terrariums can be made in any glass container, either with a lid or without. If it’s not enclosed you may need to add water a bit more often, but be very careful not to overwater. We use activated charcoal to alleviate any bacterial problems from  water that may settle  in the bottom of the container. Simply sprinkle a layer of the charcoal over the bottom layer of pebbles prior to planting.

The layering of different colored pebbles, pea gravel and stones add a decorative element to any terrarium, and are quite fun to play with. Once this bottom layer is complete, add a light potting soil and plant your terrarium.

Decorative stones and a tricolor sedum...

Decorative stones and a tricolor sedum…

 

The posts on ferns and miniature plants may help you choose which ones to use. The last step is to add any decorative moss, larger stones, miniature gardening accessories, or natural items gleaned from your yard. These might include small pinecones, pieces of lichen or whatever strikes your fancy!

 

Tiny Plants…Great For Terrariums Or Small Containers Too!

photo (6)If you haven’t noticed, terrarium plantings, miniature gardens and anything tiny seems to be the name of the game the past few years. Growers have taken notice and now offer a wonderful variety of plants for the smallest of indoor gardening opportunities.

Mini fittonia

fittonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very little two-inch pots are just the right size for these starter plants. Some are quite easy to grow houseplants that are usually available in larger containers, and others are small succulents. Because of their diminutive size, it’s quite easy to incorporate them into mixed terrarium plantings or miniature gardens.

An assortment of tiny houseplants...

An assortment of
tiny houseplants…

Small ferns are perfect for terrariums....

Small ferns are
perfect for
terrariums….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rex begonias appreciate the humidity in a  terrarium....

Rex begonias appreciate
the humidity in a
terrarium….

For terrarium plantings, choose from many easy to grow moisture loving plants. These include ferns, fittonia, Rex begonia, aluminum plant, pilea, strawberry begonia (It’s a good perennial groundcover in the shade too!), creeping fig, and others that enjoy high humidity in an enclosed environment.

Hoya...

Hoya…

 

 

 

 

Small succulents and other houseplants, like jades and hoyas, are best used in open containers and miniature gardens.  They offer a wide range of colors, shapes and textures and are quite easy to take care of too. The hoya pictured here in the open glass container has been growing for months, quite happily!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January In The Greenhouse…

air plants have found a home in these colorful frames...

air plants have found a home in these colorful frames…

January in the greenhouse is a quiet time. Sure, there are folks coming in for a houseplant for a pot, or to pick up a few pansies to fill in their winter weary containers, but for the most part there’s plenty of time to work on projects of all sorts.

Molly created this herb sign with aluminum wire and old pallets...

Molly created this herb sign with aluminum wire and old pallets…

This month, Jamie, Pinkie and Molly, with the help of Lauren, have been painting up a storm, and the stage area has taken on a new look. Molly is also working on signs for the outdoor nursery, while Bert and Ben are  building new tables. it’s fun to change things up, and this is the time of year to do it!

a spring garden using lichen covered branches and spring flowers...

a spring garden using lichen covered branches and spring flowers…

Of course, arrangements take priority always, for customers who come in needing something for themselves, for a party or to give as a gift – and we enjoy this creative outlet too. Jamie brought in a lot of lichen covered branches, and has been using them beautifully as part of table top arrangements. They look wonderful mixed in with the bright primroses of winter, and the forced bulbs including narcissus, muscari, and soon, tulips and crocus.

pussy willow branches...

pussy willow branches…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter branches of pussy willow have been a staple too, and we’ve been adding them to orchid and foliage arrangements. Soon the greenhouse will be filled with even more houseplants of all sorts, and we’ll begin creating combinations of plantings that can be transferred outside when the temperatures warm, later in the spring.

January in the greenhouse  is spent doing chores that must be done, but also on things that are just plain fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Miniature Garden Accessories (And Some Tales Too)

Miniature garden items - long shotFor all of you miniature garden folks (You know who you are!), some new tiny accessories came in recently that might be of interest if you want to rework one you already have. Some of you may want to create more of them or you may have children and grandchildren that love these tiny worlds as much as we do! We even have a gentleman who comes in on a regular basis whose hobby is creating tiny train worlds. He’s always on the lookout for new pieces and plants to add to his extensive train villages.

Miniature garden, gray round bow, stone table and stools, green bench, bridge, heather tree

 

 

If you’re going to the Hand In Paw fundraiser this month, you’ll also see one of our miniature garden creations there – it will be in the silent auction. Here’s hoping it does its part to raise needed funds for that worthy organization!

Miniature garden w/ Triple trellis, broom & rake, iced tea set, catSome people have asked why we don’t carry fairies and other inhabitants for our miniature gardens. For us, the garden is the key – creating a miniature garden world with plants that actually will grow for you…along with some judicious clipping when needed.   (Fairies are there in spirit, not seen, and, if the garden has the magic of the creator’s touch, of course they’ll come.)

Miniature garden asst stuff, coke bottles in crate, tub w/ ice, iced tea setThese miniature gardens have really struck a chord for adults and kids alike, and it’s so much fun to see the delight by adults and excitement of little ones as they browse (and play with)  the tiny creations that can  be used in their own gardens. Of course, any activity that stimulates imagination is certainly worthwhile!  For children, it’s a make believe world; for adults it’s an outlet to grow plants in a different way.

A customer came in one day to ask for help reworking  her daughter’s miniature garden… according to the parent, her little girl absolutely loved this garden, which had been a present.  This one had a winding  pea gravel path and stone “courtyard”  (which she would smooth with her tiny rake each day), rock “boulders”, a bench, and other little accessories as well as  a few sedums for the garden plants.

Miniature garden with Celtic cross, green metal bench, stone table & chairsAll was well until the night the little girl had a sleepover party with a couple of her friends…you might well imagine where this story is going! Somehow the miniature garden, which she kept in her bedroom, was completely up-ended  in the middle of the bed, an utter mishmash of soil, plants,pea gravel, stones and little accessories. It must have been like Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall in the fairytale! We helped rework the little miniature garden, and hopefully that little girl is still happily raking her pea gravel “path”…

Miniature garden w/ var. euonymous std, stone bridge, b/bath w/ cardinalNot long ago a parent, her daughter, and the girl’s little brother came in. The mother marched to the counter with the little boy and said that he needed to buy, with his own money, a stone for his sister’s miniature garden. Puzzled, I asked what kind of stone he needed. Well, the mother said, her daughter had a stone with the words “My Garden” written on it in her miniature garden. Evidently the little boy had turned it around and scrawled  “bathroom” on the back! Of course, the boy’s sister wasn’t having any of that in her garden. So, we found the perfect stone, wrote “My Garden” on it for the little girl, and the little boy brought out his money to pay for it.  Before they left, the mother gave the little boy the stone that he’d written on. Much  later we found it hidden in the miniature garden displays and had a good laugh….he didn’t want it either!

Miniature garden assorted pieces in displaySome of the fun things we’ve gotten in recently include a pair of ghosts (It’s never too early to begin thinking about Halloween!), wooden soda bottle crates with soda bottles, a wine basket with wine bottles, a metal tub (just right to put the wine and soda bottles in!), tiny turtles, frogs and one very fat cat, some pretty urns, a very realistic Celtic cross, a stone walking bridge, a triple trellis  and more. And there will be additional miniature garden items coming in down the road too. It’s a good idea to pop in every now and then to see what’s new.

The miniature gardens shown in this post showcase a few new things, as well as some items we’ve had. Mostly though, I hope they illustrate how much fun making these gardens can be, and how each one is a little different…imagination is a wonderful thing!

 

 

 

 

 

More Miniature Garden Magic

miniature world...

miniature world…

Oh my goodness…last week the first shipment of new miniature garden pieces came in – and what a delight! There will be even more in the weeks to come, but now we will content ourselves with brand new miniatures of weather vanes, picnic tables, tiny metal wagons and even the smallest bottles of wine for an early evening garden party..let your imagination go!

it's a garden party...

it’s a garden party…

We have everything you need if you’d like a fun summer project with your kids…one of our customers had a great idea – she purchased containers, pea gravel, little rocks, plants and miniature garden accessories; then she put everything in the middle of a table and let the kids go to town putting their own miniature garden/landscape together. It is really so much fun, and even more so if you let them use their imagination…it’s amazing what kids can come up with!

Billy's zen garden...

Billy’s zen garden…

We even came up with a miniature garden for the owner, Billy Angell, pictured here – it had a temporary “cookie stack/cairn” because he is a cookie fiend! It’s really a very simple garden, using a stone bridge and Japanese lantern to create his “Zen” garden…this was in the middle of a hectic spring at the shop and we felt he needed a little calm in is life! We added a little rock, and, using a sharpie, labeled it “Billy’s Zen Garden.” It made him smile – and isn’t that the point of these little gardens?

don't they look like the real thing?

don’t they look like the real thing?

We’ve also gotten in some very detailed “concrete” urns, “retro” red tables and chairs (Remember the ones your parents or grandparents had?), a sweet pair of frogs sitting on a cut log piece, a “stone” table with stools, and sets of tools, rakes and brooms – after all, you have to tend the garden and sweep the paths, right?

imageIf you’d like to have us put one together for you we have containers here, or you can bring something of your own in and we’ll create one for you. All we ask is that you give us ample time to put your miniature garden together – they may look less time consuming to make than a full size garden, but we promise you the devil is in all those minature details!

imageSome plants that can be used for gardens that will be used outside are many low growing sedums, echevarias, hen and chicks, euonymous standards (They make great trees!), tiny bromeliads, air plants and miniature jade plants to name just a few…indoor gardens (or terrariums) can be planted with fittonia, selaginellas, many small ferns, palms and more…there is always something in the greenhouse or in the nursery to use!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

 

Small, Smaller, Smallest – Miniature Gardens!

A sampling of our miniature gardening accessories

A sampling of our miniature gardening accessories

Kids love them and so do adults! Miniature gardens capture the kid in all of us, and maybe that’s why they’re so popular. Really, how can you resist the magic of these tiny worlds? From the smallest birdbaths and ponds (every garden should have some water, after all) to the perfect path leading to a miniature bench (yes, that’s a kitty sunning itself there..) we think they’re magical.

A child’s miniature garden

We created one special garden for a little 7 year old – it was a Christmas gift from her grandmother. Imagine that little girl’s face when she caught sight of her very own little garden! From that child’s delight to a landscape used as a centerpiece on a luncheon table, all of the gardens we create are meant to last – just let us know where you’d like to use them, inside or outside, and what type of light they’ll be in and we’ll take it from there – we promise you’ll be delighted!

A bird's eye view of a miniature garden landscape

A bird’s eye view of a miniature garden landscape

 

 

Another tiny garden we created is a bird’s eye view of plants designed to live in a sunny location – we used plenty of succulents and other small plants that can take some heat!

image

Miniature garden with greenery and rocks

Maintenance involves keeping plants trimmed and watered as necessary…no aching back tending these gardens! How great is that? We’ll be posting more photos of our miniature gardens and accessories so check in often!