In Celebration of Spring

March 21, 2015 moss garden 005

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In celebration of spring, here is a tiny garden constructed as a gift for a much loved friend.

Our friends celebrate the ancient festival of Nowruz, which is the first day of spring.  This special festival, in celebration of the new year, which begins at the spring equinox; traces its history to ancient times and the Zoroastrian faith of the ancient Persians.

This special festival brings friends and family together to share wishes for health, wealth, and the fulfillment of wishes in the new year.  There is wonderful food, music, flowers, and abundant laughter.  We were so honored to be invited to join their celebrations this evening!

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March 21, 2015 moss garden 003

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This little gift of green life and abundance carries our good wishes for the new year to our friends and their family.  There are ferns just poking up through the soil, a sprouting vine of Creeping Jenny, many different mosses, and lichens.

I hope you have celebrated this first day of spring, and that you have found joy in it. 

What a perfect day to count as the beginning of a new year of growth and abundance!

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March 21, 2015 moss garden 008

Woodland Gnome 2015

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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.

Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day

January 21, 2015 cutting board 013

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What fun to stumble upon something new!  Today I found a link to Christina’s gardening blog, where she hosts this wonderful event on the 22 of each month.

Christina posts, “Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, where we celebrate all kinds of foliage, green, evergreen, silver, gold or red.”

And what a wonderful hour I’ve just spent following the links from her blog to other fascinating gardening blogs with posts about interesting leaves!

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 016

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My offering for this January 22 is the latest in my series of little moss gardens and terrariums.  My gardening is mostly inside at the moment, and these little moss gardens bring such pleasure.

A friend and I shopped the Re-Store, which supports Habitat For Humanity, earlier this week; and I came home with lots of interesting clear glass containers for terrariums.  This was the best one, and I made it up as a gift for her husband’s recent re-retirement.

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 014

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This little garden’s most interesting foliage is the tiny strawberry begonia, Saxifraga stolonifera.  This is another new baby off of some larger plants I’m overwintering inside.

In addition to the soft green mosses from our garden, there is a division of a special lacy fern and a division of peacock spikemoss, Selaginella uncinata.

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January 23, 2015 birds 003~

A bit of shelf fungus pulled from a branch in our forest completes this little garden.

All of these plants may be transplanted outside in a few months when the weather settles.  Whether moved to a pot or planted into a bed, this little grouping will grow on in a shady spot.  All little divisions now, they will each grow quite a bit larger and continue to spread.

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January 23, 2015 birds 002

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I am so happy to be surrounded with talented friends who love gardening and are happy to share the joy of it with me.  And now that I’ve found Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day, there is another opportunity to photograph and share the many beautiful foliage plants we grow and enjoy throughout the year.

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 016

Aqua-Terrarium

January 16, 2015 terrarium 001

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Is it possible to grow “underwater” plants in a terrarium?  I’ve been playing with this idea for some time now.

I’m not thinking of an “aquarium,” with fish or snails or frogs.  I’m wondering how the principals of making a “little world in a bottle” can be transferred to making a watery environment.

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January 16, 2015 terrarium 004~

Books on terrariums seem to group their projects into three or four main categories.  There are the ‘desert’ terrariums constructed from sand, rock, and succulent plants.  These require very little water and need bright light.

There are the “jungle’ terrariums made for rooted plants which prefer high humidity.  These have soil, moss, ferns, tropical plants, and often bits of lichens, wood, and stones.

There are those terrariums which hold air plants balanced on stone, wood, or sand; and the so called “fantasy” terrariums which may have only reindeer moss and decorative items.

The ‘water-world’ I was imagining wasn’t anywhere to be found in books on miniature gardens or terrariums.

 

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And so I’m experimenting with one. 

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January 16, 2015 signs 001

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It made sense to look for water-loving plants at a nearby Petco.  There is a decent selection, even in January.  These tiny plants come packed in water absorbing gel in little clear plastic sleeves.  I chose two ferns, Microsorium pteropus, ‘Windelov,’ commonly known as ‘Crested Java Fern’ and Trichomanes javanicum, or Aqua Fern.

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January 16, 2015 signs 003

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I’ve trained myself to take a moment to search for information about new acquisitions, and it’s a good thing that I did a little research on both of these plants before planting them.  Although aqua fern is commonly sold for use in aquariums, it is a terrestrial fern in nature.  There is a lot of criticism in the articles I read of pet shops which sell this fern for aquarium use.

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January 16, 2015 signs 019

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It can tolerate water up to a point, but prefers to grow in the air.  Grown entirely underwater, it dies within a year or so.

The crested Java fern is not so picky.  It can grow on land, partially submerged, or completely underwater.

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January 16, 2015 signs 009

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But it should never be “planted” with its roots under soil.  It grows from creeping rhizomes and must be anchored to a rock or piece of driftwood, and allowed to grow above the soil line of its environment.

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January 16, 2015 signs 017

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All of this was useful information in thinking about how to plant my “aqua-terrarium.”

I realized that although the crested Java fern needs no soil, the aqua fern would benefit from having its roots anchored in soil and its leaves at least partially exposed to the air.

A base layer of glass shards and polished stones forms the base layer of this terrarium.

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January 16, 2015 signs 005

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I topped this with a fairly thick layer of reindeer moss to hold the soil from shifting down among these stones.

The trick of this construction is to encase the soil as much as possible, to keep it from muddying the water.  There is some leakage of soil, but I expect it to settle out over time.

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January 16, 2015 signs 014

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I wrapped a large, attractive stone with gold plated jewelry wire, constructing a little spiral to anchor the roots of the crested Java fern.  Rhizomes should eventually grow over the rock, and potentially spread across the gravel.

I covered the little bit of fresh potting soil as much as possible with large flat stones, and then pushed the roots of the aqua fern into a hole left in the soil.  More small stones secure that fern in place.

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January 16, 2015 signs 021

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Finally, I poured a thin layer of quartz sand over everything to seal and cover the soil, added bottled spring water, and added a few mineral specimens as accents.

As with all first attempts, I’m already considering how this could be better.

The container is perhaps a little small for two ferns.  Maybe I should have skipped the potting soil entirely, and used only the crested Java fern in this construction.  I may still pull it back out and give it its own container.

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January 16, 2015 terrarium 005

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I”m also wondering whether the water is too high for the aqua fern.  Maybe it should grow in a boggy environment with mosses instead of in this ‘aqua-terrarium.”

And of course, I would love to add one of those cute little frogs we spotted at Petco…  But that presents its own challenges, and questions, doesn’t it?

I’ve placed this new ‘aqua-terrarium in bright but indirect light and will just observe it for a while.

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January 16, 2015 terrarium 006

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I’m hoping you have an opinion or some advice in all of this…

What do you think about this genre of terrarium?  How would you proceed?  Is this an interesting little indoor winter garden?

I have mixed feelings about it.

I’m not sure that either fern is shown off to advantage with this configuration, but as they relax and adapt, they continue to improve in appearance.

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January 16, 2015 terrarium 007

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I especially like the tips of the little crested Java fern as seen underwater.  They somehow resemble frogs’ hands…

 

Woodland Gnome 2014

Green World

December 24, 2014 green world 008.

What to get for the guy who has nearly everything?

A world of his own, of course!

December 24, 2014 Terrarium 007

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Welcome to “Green World.”

This little environment is almost self-sustaining.  Did you get interested in terrariums when they were popular back in the 1970’s?  Those were often completely enclosed, needing little to no attention for months at a time.

What was old is new again, and terrariums have come back in fashion.  Today’s terrariums are a little less rigorous, with small openings to allow fresh air to circulate.

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December 24, 2014 Terrarium 008.

This little terrarium is made with divisions from plants I’ve kept going this winter.  In addition to the mosses, collected from the garden during a break in the rain, there is a tender lady fern, strawberry Begonia divisions (Saxifraga stolonifera) , and some bits of of moss fern,  Selaginella pallenscens.

The plant divisions are a bit spare now, but within a month or so they will begin to fill in.  And it will get a bit crowded and need division by this time next year.  This fern is especially vigorous, growing to about 14″ tall and sending out many runners.  The strawberry Begonia gets its name from the tiny plants it produces on the tips of long stems.

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December 24, 2014 green world 004.

As you look closely, you may notice lots of little plants growing up through the mosses.  There are several different varieties of moss, and bits of lichen.

The lichen on the branch will continue to live, drawing moisture from the air.

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December 24, 2014 green world 003.

Examining the tiny plants is relaxing.  It is a beautiful, green respite in the midst of December.  A tiny breath of spring…

The little landscape is completed with quartz and apophyllite crystals.  The cluster of very bright crystals is apophyllite.

Bright, indirect light and occasional watering to keep things moist will keep this little green world alive and growing.  It is a Christmas gift for a special member of my family.

It is Christmas Eve, and our preparations are now completed.

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December 24, 2014 green world 001

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Woodland Gnome

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