I love upcycled art, I love miniature craft and I love gardening….So what better than a full fledged living mini garden (18” X 11” inches)!
Here are the steps and you can do it too (Let me alert you , we are talking about living plants so u must take care of them). I water them , feed them and talk to them each time I step into my garden.
I got hold of a wooden electric box (you could do it in a plastic or clay tray which will last longer), cleaned it and sketched my garden landscape on paper. I wanted to include a water pond, relevant pond creatures, a bridge, a park bench, a garden patio and a shade area.
Step 1:To start with I started designing the pond area. If you have the time and inclination you could actually contain water in it with floating or aqua mini plants (http://www.aquascapeinc.com/index.php?page=articles&a_id=62). However it gets quite tedious to clean it regularly (it catches water worms, mosquitoes breed) plus the birdies use it as a water bath and damage the plants. So I broke(Yeah, broke! I dint get it cut coz I wanted some cracks to appear to create ripple effect in water) a glass to make it fit the box as per my design. Once done, I painted the glass with water color paints with appropriate shading using blue, yellow and green. I layered the base of the box with foil. This was primarily made to serve two purposes (a) During the day the foil reflects light and give a beautiful clear water effect to the pond (b) the bright reflection of it keep the birds away from spoiling my plants.
Step 2: I wanted to build solid land around the glass which will hold the glass tight and serve as a base to my garden. No better medium than white Portland cement (I used JK White). To make the mortar of sand, cement and water I used a proportion of 2:1:1. In the box / tray I placed a plastic square box to block the space for my plants. I placed the glass as per my design and cemented around it. When the cement was slightly settled I placed small pebbles and shells around pond. On either sides of the pond I placed 2 sticks to mark holes for the bridge I was to add later. Remember cement takes about 2-5 hours to dry, but since I was planting in cement structures I need to cure the cement. That simply means spraying water over the cement patch after 24 hours and repeat again after another 10-12 hrs. This also serves to remove the excess lime in the cement which can harm the plant growth.
Step 4: Make the bridge: You can gather twigs in your garden , or sticks or anything to give a wooden effect. Once you have measure thee length and the width of the bridge, cut the sticks accordingly and stick them on a thing piece of cloth. Once dry cut it along the stick (If your cloth is a strikingly different color you can paint it. I chose a difficult method to do mine. I actually tied up each stick to another to form a garland. This is much sturdy and also work well if your planning a hanging bridge, but the tying has to be done correctly such that is balance the sticks evenly across. Once your base is ready, place two thick wires across the pond to prepare a base to place the bridge. Stick your stick structure to the base wire or if you have stringed it together like I did. . simply tie it to the wire……
Step 6: Park bench…..This is the simplest step. Just get hold of ice cream sticks (that will be a good excuse for you to hog on some!) Stick three stick as the sitting area. I used Fevikvick . You could use an fast stick glue. Once dry, break one stick into two equal halves and stick it to the front forming the front two legs. Once dry, create the back legs by sticking 2 full sticks on either side. Lastly just place two long sticks to form the back rest. And voila!, you’re ready to sit on it.
Step 5: I wanted to build an archway garden tunnel (I enjoy walking in these in real gardens and they are rare).. . So once again use a wire to build two arches as per the design.
I joined them with intermediate wire pieces as I planned to let creepers spiral on them. My creeper is still a baby and growing. However you can follow this link to see how it will turn out finally I assume.http://www.123rf.com/photo_7613464_green-archway-in-a-park.html
Step 7: Garden Patio (as in the pic above): White was the color I was thinking of. In any piece of art you need to balance colors (as beautifully as nature does it) to be appealing to the eye. White was missing. . Although I used white cement, due to the sand it seemed beige. So I used plaster of paris. It is also very fast to use. I gather some big glass pieces to create a patio. You could use pebbles, flowers, stones, old jewelery or anything to create a design in the plaster of paris but u must be quick as it dries within 10 mins. I used 2: 1 proportion of plaster of paris to water ratio. If you want it to set quicker use hot water.. . If you don’t like white you could simply add a tube of poster colors in the water an get the color you want.
Step 8: Garden Shade. I simply love the patterns and colors that throw up when sunlight passes through painted glass.
I got hold of an old CD, removed the plastic coating on it , cleaned it till it was completely transparent. If you don’t have patience with a CD you could use a plastic / glass lid which suits you. I drew some random leaves on it and painted it with glass paints to give a translucent effect. Notice in the afternoons when the sun is overhead it throws a beautiful shade and is enhanced coz of the bright white plaster. You could ship this step altogether if you plan to place this mini garden indoors.
Step 8: Make garden miniatures: (my favourite)……………design small pots, small birds, frogs, mushroom, swans, ducks, butterflies, aligators, tortoise all that you can think of. Since my tray / box is small I only stuck to birds and frogs as I wanted to make a “human friendly” garden on the other side. Since, I would water the plants, I used polymer clay to make it water resistant. If you do not plan to keep real plants you could use cold porcelain to make these miniatures. Here are my frogs, mushroom and birds.
My rooster n hens (I have planted a variety of moss here which will cover this soil and the cracks in some days). So it will appear as though the hens are feeding on them and the cracks will space out the moss well.
I made these pots to plant succulents as they need less soil and less water.
For birds I just used my imagination and made a small pair of blue birds, stuck them on a small piece of show glass on a medicine bottle cap to appear as a bird bath.
And you cant miss my oysters!
Step 9: Gather the plants. This is highly subjective. However first decide where you will place this garden. The amount of sunshine it will get. The number of time you will water and how well it holds water. For starters I recommend using succulents/ cacti as they care for them selves. However if you are like me, you may venture into other plants which will add a lot of fauna to the garden.
Step 10: Assembly. Now that you have all the parts of your garden together you just have to set it up. I suggest start with the plants. Sometimes you realize that plants take to certain directions and sides, this may make to rework your plan. After that I got my animal and pond in place. I stuck the frogs, oysters, bird bath etc with fevikvick. I haven’t stuck to mini pots as I keep them under my painted shade in the afternoon overhead sun as I use them to plant seedlings and then transplant it. This design has withstood the rains, storm and sun till date. It has nurtured the plants in it and has kept the pesky crows away (thanks to the reflection)…….
…………………………….Not to say the least, its placed in our balcony where we check it out over our morning tea, my kid has learnt all the pond creatures and the associated flora fauna thanks to this project….
Supplies I used (However in my description I have given supply alternatives)
A wooden tray
polymer clay (air drying)
potting mix soil
Plants (as described)
Sticks/ ice cream sticks,
Strong glue/ fevikwik
glass and glass paints
pebbles & shells
pearls & mirrors
PS: I realized in the hindsight that I hadn't clicked pictures while making it. Hence excuse me for that.