Fall in the Fairy Garden

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Alright.  These are not fairies.

But they are delightful.  And they are some of my favorite people.

And looking oh so adorably Fall-ish.

 

Anyway… 

I have a good reason for talking about Fall, even though it is hardly Fall in the Smokies.  It still feels like Summer.  I found this great DIY from Espoma for a Fall Fairy Garden and it talks about a product I’ve never heard of, but I am definitely going to be using.  ShapeCrete – “Plays like clay, works like concrete..”  Intrigued?  Read on!

“Fairy gardens do better when in an area protected from the elements. When thinking about where to create or place your fairy garden, think about the environmental factors like wind and rain that can ruin the garden. When Laura is done creating her fairy garden, she will place it on her covered porch where it will be protected!

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • There is no drainage in this miniature garden, so water lightly and only when the plants need it. Laura suggests using a syringe to get the right amount of water exactly where it’s needed.
  • If using shapecrete, it may still be soft after 30 minutes of curing, so don’t put too much weight on it. It will continue to cure for 24 hours.
  • This is a seasonal project, so before winter comes find a new home for the plants, either in a greenhouse or indoors, in order to preserve them.

Watch Laura dive into this fun autumn fairy garden! Here is a list of supplies she uses.

Materials Used:
Old Suitcase
Heavy Black Plastic
Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
Small Plants
Tree Figurines with LED lights
Shapecrete
Native soil
Putka Pods (Look like Miniature Pumpkins)
Autumn Themed Fairy Figurines and Décor
Mulch
Embellishments

Plants Laura Used:
Tiny Tim Euphorbia
Irish Moss
Straw Flower
Creeping Jenny
Sempervivums

How to Create an Autumn Fairy Garden:

  1. Line an old suitcase with heavy plastic in order to preserve it and keep the soil in one place.
  2. Fill with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and trim the excess plastic from the container to make it look clean and precise.
  3. Add plants. Remember to work from back to front adding height and texture to the miniature landscape. Use plants that will stay small, so they don’t outgrow your garden.
  4. Add tree figurines. If they light up, keep them near the sides so the cords don’t get wet.
  5. Create a road or pathway for your fairies. Cut photo paper to make a guide where you want the road to go. Mix water with shapecrete and pour between the photo paper. Let dry 30 minutes before removing the paper. It’ll continue to cure for 24 hours.
  6. Now is the time to set the autumn scene and add in your fairy garden figurines. Laura used putka pods, miniature straw bales, apples in a barrel, a Farmer’s Market stand, a worker and a truck full of pumpkins! Feel free to add some mulch and native soil to give it an authentic field feel.
  7. Decorate the lid of your suitcase with fall themed embellishments. Laura added a bunting banner in fall colors.

Enjoy your new fairy garden!

Use Espoma’s organic potting mix in your fairy garden.”

The Making of a Mushroom

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We’ve been spending a lot of time in the evening and on weekends creating mini garden accessories for our shoppe.  This is fun and relaxing for us, and we would much rather be crafting than all the other things we should be doing.

My mini mushrooms are made of clay, and they start out looking like this.  They have to dry for 24 hours.

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The next evening, we paint.  Red is the most popular, but I love turquoise and I feature turquoise in many of my fairy gardens.

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They aren’t spotted… that’s just my kitchen lights 🙂  This coat of paint dries for 24 hours and then comes the next step.

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Polka-dots!  These little guys are so much fun to make.  We sell them in packages of three.  Super cute!

I keep saying “we” and I should give some credit to my trusty assistant, who thinks I keep some strange hours.

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Enchantment… In Proportion

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Photo Credit:  Liz Ballard

Once Upon a Time…

There is a drive about a quarter-mile long from the highway to my house.  One section is beautifully tree-lined and runs along our creek.  Squirrels scamper across the road, rabbits peek out of the grass with noses wiggling and birds flit from tree to tree. It’s as picturesque as it sounds.  On a good day, you’ll see deer, too.

This happened just last week.  It was sunny and spring-like and three pretty does stood in the tall grass by the creek.  Perfection!  These are the moments that confirm my secret suspicion that I really am a Disney Princess and my life is a Fairy Tale (cue the song and dance).

I suppose this mindset explains my love of all things magical and sparkly and small… including fairies and mini gardens.  And bunnies.  And baby ducks.  And Yorkies.  Yes, my Yorkie sparkles.

Miniature is Relative

My list above includes several small adorable things.  But that doesn’t mean they go together (fairies tease Yorkies incessantly).  In miniature gardening, scale, or the relationship in size of all the plants and accessories, is your most important consideration.

You may be a free spirit that says, “I don’t want to “design” my mini garden, that takes all the fun out of it!”  But you still have to pay attention to scale, or it just won’t look right.

Here are a couple of examples of scale mis-match:

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Isn’t she lovely? But she’s not getting in the door of that adorable little fairy house!

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This is the tiniest galvanized pail I found, but it is still too big for the little garden shed.

This is Not a BIG Deal

Get it?  I know.  It was funnier at 4:00 in the morning.

Scale is easy.  Miniature garden accessories come in all sizes.  Use larger ones in big pots and outside gardens, and use tiny ones in teacup gardens and terrariums.  Just make sure they go together.

  • Compare furniture with houses, fences, gazebos and other structures
  • Fairies, animals and accessories such as wheelbarrows and birdbaths should match furniture and structures
  • Accessories like garden tools and foods shouldn’t be too big for the benches and tables they sit on
  • You have a lot more flexibility in plant size

Happy Endings

That’s really all there is to managing scale in your miniature garden.  You’ve got this, my friends.  The world of fairies and mini garden goodies is your wonderland.  Have fun!

BTW, I’m still waiting for a Fairy Godmother.  The above mentioned wildlife does NOT clean my house.

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A Deeper Perspective

“When what is, isn’t … and vice versa.”

Have you ever been pulled into a photo of the layers of mountains (like in the Smokies) that takes you miles beyond the foreground? Yet, the image is on a thin piece of photo paper, canvas or even the display of a cell phone?

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The typical camera captures images similar to the way our eyes take in a view. So, when we later view the image, the scene can make us feel as though we are where the camera was at the time. At least visually.

The “Perspective Elements” garnered from the image of the Smokies can be applied to an MG. So what are these “Perspective Elements” (PEs)?

If you examine the above image, you will notice the geometry of the mountains is different between the near mountains and the far mountains. The mountains appear smaller, are closer together and begin to lose detail the farther away they are. By using this observation when planning an MG you can create an MG with a “Deeper Perspective.”

Now, don’t start thinking you will need to locate mathematically accurate representations of all objects of a scene. Not only would this likely change one’s character to lemming-like and guide you involuntarily over a cliff, it is just not necessary. Do not completely remove the fun factor of MG creation by trying to do the near impossible. Are you familiar with the saying, “We have been doing so much for so long with so little that we can now do anything with nothing in no time”? Well, let’s not practice that here. Here we are going to rely on the mind of the viewer to fill in all the blanks. Let us remember that even Picasso became famous for his creations!

So, here are some of the PEs that I feel are good to be aware of and that may be applied to MGs to gain a “Deeper Perspective.” It is important to note that what we are trying to achieve is the creation of depth that defies the size of the container used (…what is, isn’t…).

Change in Scale

Placing smaller scaled items in the back of your scene. Normally we try hard to match the scale of objects throughout an MG. If you are trying to achieve more depth, then you can use out-of-scale objects to your advantage. Smaller scaled objects will go in the back of your scene and larger scaled objects will be placed in the foreground. Now, this does not mean we throw out the rule of matching scale between objects. The rule of scale is applied differently. One should strive to match the scale of objects placed near each other. These items will be in the same or similar position relative to the foreground and background of your scene so their scales needs to match. Now, it can be challenging to find an object you desire in all the different scales you may want. Don’t fret. Finding objects that vary in height or width alone can work.

Change in Texture

This PE can be challenging to apply in practicality. Plant material and crafted items offer the most opportunities here. Coarser textures in the foreground and finer textures in the background.

Change in Width of Linear or Curvilinear Features

A pathway, stream or strip of “turf” that becomes narrower as it makes its way to the back of the scene is a powerful method to creating depth. This not only applies to linear paths, but to meandering (curvilinear) ones as well.

Change in Object Spacing

Similar and repetitive objects can be spaced closer together as their positions approach the back of the scene. Placement of objects such as fence posts, stepping stones and hedging plants can take advantage of this PE. This is also a strong method of creating depth.

When most or all of these PEs are combined the effect can be quite impressive. Trying to apply all of these PEs to each element can be very challenging. The more of them you are able to apply, the more convincing your scene will be. But remember, the idea is to have fun. Finding you at the bottom of a cliff is not the goal.

MGs rely heavily on the imagination of the creator and the viewers. This holds true with the attempt of creating depth. Here are some tips that will help you get deeper (was too good to resist) into leveraging PEs in your creations.

A Single Point Perspective

A grasp of this concept is helpful when you are planning your MG scene with depth. Especially when laying out your linear or curvilinear elements. Here is a visual example of a single point perspective. Notice how the foreground items that carry through to the background all merge at a single point on the distant horizon.

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Use Two or More Similar Focal Objects of Different Scales

If you have similar objects such as: vehicles, structures, animals, hand tools, etc. of different and appropriate scales you can use them to your advantage. Placing the smaller items behind or “beyond” the larger version of the object will create depth.

Using Similar Objects With Different Textures

Some of the objects that come to mind are loose materials. Like small stones for pathways and “creek-beds.” The stones may be sorted by relative size and the larger ones used in the foreground and the smaller in the background. This applies to stepping stones as well. Since there are lots of different textured green plants (real and faux plants), there are opportunities to use plants with coarse texture in the foreground and finer texture in the background. Small stones used as “boulders” are available in a nearly endless selection, using larger and coarser textures in the foreground and finer textures and smaller sizes in the background.

When What is, Isn’t …

Here are two simple layouts for a basic MG that demonstrates the impact of applying some of these PEs.

No intentional use of PEs

Straight pathway, similar size sprigs used throughout, all focal objects of similar scale.

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The same container with PEs applied … “it is the same container, isn’t it?”

Tapered pathway, progressively smaller and finer textured sprigs, progressively smaller scale for focal objects.

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Well, we  have progressed all the way to the end of this article on using perspective techniques in an MG. If you have learned one thing I hope it is this: stay away from the edge of the cliff.

 

Destinations

A magical quality in the creation of a miniature garden lies in the ability to create a physical destination, a cerebral destination or both.

What the John Henry is he talking about???

 

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Ok, a little more information so that my thoughts may make sense to other human beings.

When creating a physical destination within an MG (my lazy way to say “Mini Garden”), one would create an actual path, trail or flow (like a dry river bed, stepping stones or such) that leads one’s eyes to a focal point (more on focal point in a future post).

When creating a cerebral destination within a MG, one focuses on creating a theme (see Kathy’s inspiring prior post on themes) that pulls the viewer mentally into the garden. Through the eyes the viewer can “walk” around the scene and examine the elements. The viewer is mentally drawn into the scene.

An MG that has an interesting, physical path AND strong theme can do both at once. The mind becomes filled and occupied with the theme of the MG but the “eye” is drawn along the path to the focal point. In a well composed MG that is purposely created to draw attention to the focal point, it is hard to resist taking that virtual “walk” down the path or “float” up the dry stream bed.

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Here is an example:

 

 

The cabin, dwarf spruce and stone work create a woodland theme that pulls the mind in. The stone steps going up the wall and the stepping stones lead one’s eyes straight to the front door.