Sunday Dinner: Small Worlds

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“The world is awash with colours unseen

and abuzz with unheard frequencies.

Undetected and disregarded.

The wise have always known that these inaccessible realms,

these dimensions that cannot be breached

by our beautifully blunt senses,

hold the very codes to our existence,

the invisible, electromagnetic foundations

upon which our gross reality clumsily rests.”

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Russell Brand

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“Infinity is before and after an infinite plane.”

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RJ Clawso

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“It is frightfully difficult

to know much about the fairies,

and almost the only thing for certain

is that there are fairies

wherever there are children.”

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J.M. Barrie

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“It didn’t seem possible to gain so much happiness

from so little.”

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Peter Lerangis

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“Do the little things.

In the future when you look back,

they’d have made the greatest change.”

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Nike Thaddeus

 

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Moss, Ferns, and a Fairy House

May 23, 2016 fairy house 006

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This certainly has been a wonderful spring for working with mosses and ferns!   Abundant rain, muted light, humidity and cool days provide the perfect conditions for our ferns to grow and mosses to thrive.  Sometimes it feels like Oregon’s climate followed me home to Virginia!

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May 23, 2016 fern garden 005~

The various ‘moss gardens’ I started this spring continue to grow, but not as rapidly as the wild mosses taking over in more areas of the garden than ever before!   We continue to find new little ferns popping up in unexpected places even as all those we’ve planted take off in our moist, cool May.

This hypertufa trough held succulents in full sun, until a couple of weeks ago, when I re-purposed it for our newest moss garden.

We refreshed the trough with fresh potting soil, over a layer of gravel for drainage, planted out some tiny fern starts found at The Great Big Greenhouse, and moved the container to shade.

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May 23, 2016 fairy house 004~

An extensive collection of tiny 1″ plants for terrariums and Bonsai always excite me at this favorite Richmond area greenhouse, and I end up ‘collecting’ a few more with each visit.  They are fun to use indoors all winter and grow quickly to standard sizes.   We had a few brake ferns, and what are likely bird’s nest ferns, which needed more room to grow for summer.  The trough seemed the perfect container for them.

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May 23, 2016 fern garden 004~

There are also a few starts of Leptinella pusilla, Purple Brass Buttons, which look like tiny purplish ferns.  If you’ve seen a display of ‘Steppables’ at your local nursery, you have likely seen this plant for sale.  I first used it when a friend and I constructed fairy gardens in 2014.

It is a tough but beautiful ground cover for shade which spreads with horizontal stems.  I took the clump out of its nursery pot, pulled a few rooted stems loose from the mass, and tucked them in among the moss of this newest garden.  The rest of the clump went into a shallow pot of its own ready to divide again and use elsewhere…..

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May 23, 2016 fairy house 005~

And of course the soil is carpeted with several varieties of lush, beautiful moss lifted from the yard.  Although it takes a few weeks to establish, it will soon begin growing again here in the shade of our grape vines.

But what really inspired me to construct this newest little trough garden was a wonderful ‘fairy house’ made by local potter Betsy Minney.  We were thrilled to find her at a local artist’s show on Mother’s Day, with several new items added to her offerings.  Betsy’s work is always uniquely textured, whimsical, and beautifully glazed.

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May 23, 2016 fern garden 002~

We wanted to enjoy Betsy’s little fairy house in a properly ‘wild’ setting, and that meant outside amidst mosses and ferns. Knowing how our birds love to peck at moss, we now wire it in place while it establishes.  Since the fairy house now lives outside on our porch, we also want to protect it from getting knocked over by a curious bird or squirrel!  It is supported here on broken chopsticks and held in place, like the clumps of moss, with bent floral wire.

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May 23, 2016 fairy house 001

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These ferns aren’t hardy in our winters, so the entire garden, and especially the fairy house, will come inside in late autumn.  But we’ll have a good six months of enjoyment of this woodland garden by our kitchen door before the weather shifts.

You could make a similar garden using hardy ferns, especially some of the small deciduous cultivars of Athyrium niponicum and native harts tongue ferns, or Asplenium scolopendrium.

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One of our newer Ary 'Joy Ride.'

One of our newer Athyrium niponicums in another part of our garden.

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I’ve not cut flowers for a vase today.  Most of our roses and Iris have suffered from heavy rains these last few days.  But I will share this little potted garden with you, and still link to Cathy’s In A Vase on Monday post at her Rambling In The Garden.

I hope you will visit to enjoy her beautiful vase of white flowers, and follow the links she posts to other gardeners around the world, to see what is blooming in their gardens today.  There is always so much beauty to enjoy from these dedicated florists and gardeners!

Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 23, 2016 fern garden 003

 

 

Tiny Gardens

February 11, 2016 tiny gardens 010

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Tiny gardens, indoors and out, help solve any number of gardening challenges.  My earliest memory of creating a tiny garden involved a cleaned up peanut butter jar, some soil dug from the back yard, and a few grass seeds pinched from a bag my father kept in the furnace room.  The seeds sprouted and I had great fun watching them grow.  And I was hooked on gardening.

While tiny container gardeners help apartment and townhouse dwellers grow a few herbs or vegetables on a small porch or balcony, they are great fun for those of us with larger gardens around our homes, as well.  In fact, the winter months are my favorite time to build little gardens to fit on a table or a windowsill.

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February 11, 2016 tiny gardens 001

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Little windowsill gardens can bask in the warm sunshine by day, but have protection from bitter cold over night.  They allow one to keep one’s fingers in the dirt during the long months of winter.

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February 11, 2016 tiny gardens 007

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This tiny Alocasia was left over from another project.  It came potted in a tiny 1″ pot, from The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond.  They offer a wonderful selection of little tropical plants in tiny pots for terrariums, bonsai, and containers.

After they potted up its twin and a tiny fern in a bonsai dish for me to take to a loved one in hospital; I brought this tiny pup home to grow on towards spring.  Still in its little nursery pot, it sits in this crystal wine glass filled with aquarium gravel.  What could be simpler?

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February 11, 2016 tiny gardens 002~

The same Alocasia cultivar, purchased last spring, continues to grow in another window in a shallow bonsai pot with a  Selaginella kraussianna.

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February 11, 2016 tiny gardens 009

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If you are interested in novel ideas for tiny potted gardens, you might enjoy a new book called Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy.  51QXwRvUbZL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a beautiful little book, filled with good color photographs of each of the thirty plus projects described. Emma gives detailed and easy to follow instructions for pulling each little garden together and good suggestions for how to display each.

Emma is British, and so has access to some plants and materials harder to find in my region of the US.   That isn’t an obstacle, however, as her ideas are very adaptable.  She demonstrates ingenious ways to re-cycle and put garage sale and charity shop finds to new uses.  Many of her projects can be displayed on a desk, narrow shelf, windowsill, or patio.

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A gardening friend and I built this, and several other fairy gardens, two summers ago.

A gardening friend and I built this, and several other fairy gardens, two summers ago.

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Emma builds many of  her gardens in containers without drainage, and demonstrates how to do so successfully.  But she also demonstrates hanging baskets, terrariums, gardens built in baskets and sturdy bags, and in other ingenious containers to use out of doors.

This is a good ‘idea’ book.  Even if you don’t build any of her projects, she will likely spark an idea for you to follow up with your own containers and plants.

She demonstrates how novel containers, shells, stones, and other little accessories can make tiny gardens very special and fun.  One of her designs, constructed as a play area for children, even includes plastic dinosaurs in a ‘swamp.’  Another demonstrates a simple way to construct a table top water garden.

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A tiny herb garden in a hypertufa pot

A tiny herb garden in a hypertufa pot

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Winter is my favorite time of year for reading  new gardening books and for keeping up with gardening magazines.  There is a good crop of newly published gardening books this year, too.

If you’ve found a good one you know others will enjoy, too, please leave a comment and tell us about it.

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Christmas centerpiece, 2013

Christmas centerpiece, 2013

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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dish gardens 006

 

Heart Stone

February 18, 2015 fern garden 004

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Have you ever found a heart stone?  A heart stone is a little stone worn away into the shape of a heart.  We always watch for them.

Sometimes we find them on beaches, worn into shape in the pounding surf.  These are always special.

Others we find in rock and crystal shops, at mineral shows, or from online mineral vendors.

Colleen, at Silver Threading, and I have been chatting about heart stones since I read her installment entitled, “ The Swamp Fairy-Deciphering the Code” in her online short story about The Swamp Fairy.  This is a wonderfully magical story, and I invite you to read it from the beginning, “The First Dream of the Swamp Fairy.”

A heart stone features in her story, with a wonderful photograph of the stone.

When Colleen learned that heart stones are special to us, she asked to see some in our collection.  That was enough to inspire me to create a little moss garden for this heart stone, carved from labrodorite.  The fern has actually been growing in this container for a few months now.  It came inside in early autumn to live through the winter in our living room garden.  Today I dressed it up with moss left from yesterday’s fairy garden project, a few bits of lichens I’ve been saving, and of course, a heart stone.

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February 18, 2015 fern garden 003

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You might have noticed that I often use bits of mineral and gemstone in my potted gardens and terrariums.  Gemstones all have a very particular molecular and crystalline structure which allows them to transmit and amplify energy; particularly electrical energy.  That is why the watch you’re wearing is probably a quartz watch.  The piezoelectric properties of all quartz based minerals are particularly useful for receiving, amplifying, storing, transmitting, and transforming energy.  That is why our computers use quartz, and why the Egyptians capped their pyramids and built their obelisks from quartz rich granite.

All plants and animals produce bioelectricity.  We respond to the energy produced by the sun and transmitted by the Earth.  Pairing plants with minerals enhances both.

And keeping a heart stone nestled in this bed of moss, beneath this young fern, in the heart of our home, feels like a good thing to do.  We enjoy its beauty, and it radiates happiness and well-being.

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February 18, 2015 stone 002~

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Heart stones found on the beach in the Aran Islands.

A Fairy Moss Garden

February 17, 2015 004

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A gardening friend and I have been collaborating on fairy gardens for a while now.  She makes the miniatures, and I plant the container.

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 005

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She found this container some time ago, and has been wanting to get it planted.  But we are all busy, and time gets away from us with other projects. 

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February 17, 2015 006~

This container was hand sculpted by someone, but isn’t signed.  A lovely piece, it is perfect for a small garden.

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 021

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She was kind enough to let me borrow it and plant it up for her.  She understands my need to get my hands into the dirt on a regular basis, you see.

What you see here is a “first draft” on the planting. 

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 022

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We’ll get together later this week and likely move things around a little.  She wants a path, and may decide to forgo or change the little creek, to allow space for more plants.

I wanted to create a little woodland scene, letting ferns stand in for trees.  This project allows me to recycle some of the moss and lichens I’ve brought in for other projects.

I’ve filled the bottom of the dish with a mixture of vermiculite, peat, and sphagnum moss.

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 008

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This allowed me to mold the banks of the creek to give a little topography to the scene.  The creek itself is formed from aluminum foil coated in sand, then topped with fine gravel and small stones.  It will hold water if she wants real water in her fairy garden.

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 009~

The garden is planted with divisions of lady fern, strawberry begonia offsets, divisions of a Begonia Rex, and moss.

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February 17, 2015 leaf garden 015~

I will likely add some tiny Sedum cuttings and perhaps some spikemoss before this project is declared “completed.”

Since this is a collaboration, we will get together to tweak it later this week….weather permitting.

But I get to enjoy it for a few days first.  Since it is green, and not snowy, I thought you might enjoy seeing how it is coming along, too.

~February 17, 2015 002

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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