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During spring, with the topic of RHS Chelsea being a top attraction, the entire subject of gardens is always ameliorated into the position of centre stage. It's all about structure, landscaping, planting, colours, scent, water and above all else, enjoyment. Hurrah, that's just as it should be. It's the time of year when we all become even more enthusiastic about everything 'planty' and we take home a desire to improve our own little patch of paradise, if only in miniature. Talking of which...
Miniature is really gaining momentum. Take this tiny word to the extreme and everything becomes completely absorbing. You can create micro gardens in a literal sense it's a hobby that is taking hold and romping away even faster than spring growth. Gardens in little containers are fascinating and they don't need to be fancy an old broken pot, a ceramic dish or a wooden box will do. How about a garden in a shoe; a galvanised pail; an upturned trough or just a simple seed tray? What's the most original container you can think of?
You can place some miniature people, sitting at their tiny garden bench.
You can become a groundworks engineer; a builder; an architect; a plantsperson; a king or queen of your own empire. Miniature gardens are BIG. This is a chance to build the treehouse of your dreams, to play in the shrubbery, to string up your hammock and to create a maze. What joy!
Maybe your little people might need a micro-bike so they can go for a ride? Plants, flowers, houses and even fairies can find homes within a miniature garden. They offer huge potential for fun and offer acres of opportunity for the imagination to run wild! The secret ingredients are simple: pay attention to detail and inject enthusiasm into the job.
So how do you go about creating a miniature garden? It's not difficult:
- Choose a container! Let it speak to you a rustic base calls for a wild and free garden; a glazed perfect blue pot might suit a formal blue-themed garden.
- Partially-fill your container with a sub-base such as sand or gravel. A draining hole aids plant health.
- Top up the level with compost. Your garden doesnt have to be flat, some hills and valleys might make a good feature!
- Design your style do you want your garden to be a woodland glade; a natural landscape; a neat and formal garden; a vegetable patch; a tropical paradise; a watery glen; even a cave?
- Gather together lots of useful things. Something suitable for paving; some tiny pea shingle; coarse sand; a suitable building; some tiny fences; garden benches; small tables; perhaps some little people or animals for your whimsical setting. These can be purchased or made by hand, the choice is yours.
- Next comes the best bit! Source some plants. You will want specimens with tiny leaves so the scale looks comfortable within its setting. You could consider Buxus, Ivy, tiny conifers, Pittosporum and others. How about using house plants such as moneyplants: Crassula ovata; Echevieria or even tiny cactus plants? Or some air plants such as Tillandsia? Naturally a bonsai tree of some sort would be ace! Include some ground cover to make a lush green carpet but vary the ground plane covering in order to achieve an illusion of size. Make sure the conditions you are providing suit the plants: right plant, right place still applies, even in miniature gardens.
- After all that, it's fun all the way. The garden of your dreams can take shape right in front of your eyes. You might need a glue gun and perhaps some tiny tacks and a miniature hammer but you will enjoy constructing your own little paradise..
Be prepared to prune your plants once they get out of hand. But don't skimp on planting pack them in and encourage them to form plant communities as they would in a real garden. Utilise moss and creeping groundcover such as clover; dwarf chamomile and even some mind your own business (soleirolia); and something like rosemary Prostratus or thyme that will tumble over the edges of your container
Get your structure and your planting in, then you can add finishing touches such as sheds, seating, people and animals. This is playing for grown-ups, but the kids will love to get involved too