Miniature Lands for Little Hands
Fantasy has infused itself into the world of reality. There appears to be something for everyone, from football to faeries and the majority of which involve a computer. You can, however, step beyond your display device to the yard and bring a bit of fantasy along. As well as your children!
Gardening in Phoenix can be a year-round activity so there’s no need to jump in on a grand scale and exhaust your passion, budget, or your back. Introduce your kids to gardening with an inexpensive planting kit. Typically, these are available to give as gifts for Mother’s Day or just before a growing season. To allow as much time as possible for plants to grow before the punishing summer heat, consider starting the seed kits indoors.
Your child may be more excited about the project if you have already prepared the area for the Lilliputian-sized fairy land, or might simply love getting dirty and wet and insist on joining you in the prep.
1) Keep in mind that these are expandable. You may want to expand this area in time and allow for the space needed to do so. Nurseries sell miniature “homesteads,” such as this hollowed-out log (right).
2) See what’s available, before you decide. Take your kids and visit your local gardening supplier and craft store to get a better idea of just where this adventure can take you.
3) Insert Plants and leave room. Insert into your fairy garden as many real plants as you want to tend to, leaving room for garden décor and miniature inhabitants. You may want to purchase a few to use as a size guide when creating the boundaries of your little garden.
4) Send your kids on a scavenger hunt! Recycling a bird bath, a dead tree stump, and even 2 liter pop bottles show there is no limit to the boundaries of the imagination. If you find nothing shaped as your design calls for, consider making your own planter with hypertufa. (Hypertufa is a mixture of Portland cement, peat moss, and perlite. It can be molded into shape, dyed, and carved)
5) Mix your own planter recipe and add leaves for texture. Experience has determined that the best ratio is 1:1.5:1.5 with the heaviest ingredient first (Portland cement). To better explain, that translates, for example, to: 1 cup of Portland cement, 1 ½ cups of perlite, and 1 ½ cups of peat moss.
I have also found instructions that give suggestions on texturizing the form using leaves, as well as other recipes for a lighter color, more durable results, or a surface with sparkle.
6) Take precautions when using cement. Portland cement is alkaline (pH 12 – 13) in nature. Human beings have a pH level of 7.4 (a HUGE difference)!
On YouTube, I watched one enthusiastic artist forming a hobbit house with cement. She used no gloves when scooping up handfuls of cement and forcing it into plastic bottles.
7) Despite of what you may witness, understand that you should always use a dust mask and safety goggles while mixing cement, and rubber gloves to touch wet cement. It is caustic and can cause burns if it gets on your skin. Additionally, you don’t want to inhale cement dust! **This is the part where your children should not be involved.**
9) Incorporate stone pathways, toad stools, moss, sea shells, and a hidden door – or none of the above! This is your family’s fantasy garden. Together, build it, cultivate it, have fun with it, and your hearts will smile for a long time.
10) Check out other examples on the web. For more ideas, search miniature garden container, hobbit house, and faerie or fairy garden.
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