Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Smaller Landscape

I’m embarrassed by my lack of blogging this month.  As you may have surmised, my life has been a little busier of late.  Ten- and twelve-hour workdays and an increase in volunteer commitments mean I barely have time to feed myself, let alone write or even think of writing.  Shaving my legs or doing a load of laundry is a small triumph.

So, of course, the garden is suffering.  I managed to weed last Sunday.  But it hardly made a dent.

I also fiddled with ideas for a new perennial border… laying out edges of the proposed bed with old flower pots and buckets.  The idea is to create a long, rather narrow bed in three curved sections that would bloom tangerine-warm-gold in the spring and slightly garish, carnival colors in late summer and fall.  Silly, I know.  I fall asleep every night working on a wish list of plants.  But do I really need another 54’ to weed, water and mulch?  Perhaps I should be thinking about simplifying my garden?  Downsizing.  Even shrinking it?

Miniature and fairy gardens are increasingly popular.  And I totally understand the appeal.  Like bonsai, these tiny gardens include plants that are carefully trained and manipulated… living, growing, natural elements but in very small scale.  Voyeurism and narrative play big roles in most miniature gardens.  They are scenes of our collective lives.  Or what we want our lives to be.  It’s like peeking over the fence of an unknown property or visiting a grand estate.  What adds to the allure is that you can see everything at once, and yet there is still so much to see!  Of course, you may speculate a little more about the inhabitants of a miniature garden.  Are they hummingbirds or butterflies, fairies or gnomes?
Pam Shank crafts charming miniature gardens.  She started her own business, Landscapes in Miniature, just about two years ago in nearby Harrisonburg, Virginia, and her gardens are the best I’ve seen in our region.
Pam uses dwarf evergreens, Succulents and Sedum, Thymus, Erodium, Ajuga, and even minuscule Hosta and Ferns, mixed with itty-bitty accessories to build landscapes fit for the Borrowers or characters from Wind-in-the-Willows (at least during their quiet moments!).
She also employs an eclectic mix of containers, including
Large traditional planters;
Hanging baskets;
Hypertufa troughs;
Martini glasses and mugs;
And other found objects.

You can commission Pam to create a garden especially for you, either in a favorite container, such as a birdbath, window box or urn, or directly in your yard.
This is a permanent installation that includes a dwarf Crape Myrtle and evergreens, trained into tree forms.  Everything is hardy enough to withstand Zone 6 and 7 winters.

Pam is best known for her tabletop beaches.  Some are small enough to hold in your palm.  They make great gifts for those ocean-lovers who live far from the shore.
You can find Pam’s miniature beaches on Etsy and her other gardens at various shops in the Shenandoah Valley.  You may also run into her at regional festivals or make an appointment to visit her home in Harrisonburg.

So, instead of minimizing plans for a new perennial border, I think I’ll add a little extra whimsy with a couple of Pam’s container gardens.

Now, I just need a little extra time to get it all started.  Maybe next month.  Or November.  Right?

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