Have you ever created a miniature garden? If not, here is a fun activity you can do with your children over the summer holidays. When I did this project with the grade three class, the teachers said that this was the most fun the children had all year. Creating miniature gardens lets the children use their imaginations. So what is a miniature garden? It is generally one that uses dwarf or miniature plants and replicates a scale model of our own gardens. Miniature gardens can be created in the ground or in containers and can be kept both inside and outside. It just depends on personal taste. This is a good project to teach children about scale.
The photo above is one of my first miniature gardens. I try to create my gardens using found items and thrift shop treasures. You can buy miniature garden kits as well.
This year I had a huge pile of soil dumped in the corner of the children’s area at the Ladner Community Garden. It was leftover from some building we had done. I looked at the pile of soil for a year and then this spring I slowly raked it out until I had it low enough to plant. I had hoped to plant a butterfly garden here to use for lessons in the garden. I placed the bark to outline potential areas to be planted leaving paths in between.
The next week I saw one of our volunteers making plant markers out of leftover lumber. Nothing goes to waste in our garden. I held on to the wooden stake and turned it upside down. Voila! The miniature garden brain kicked into gear. I immediately said,” Wow! These would make a great mini picket fence.” The next day, Gord, our volunteer had installed four picket fences in each corner of the what was supposed to be ‘butterfly garden’. So much for the butterfly garden, a miniature garden was born. Actually it would be a miniature village.
How could I resist these cute picket fences?
It was time to go thrifting for supplies. I came upon a great find. Three birdhouses to go in the gardens. Hmmm…. I needed one more so off to the greenhouse I went to search through my miniature stuff. Luckily I had a ceramic lighthouse to use! It was time to gather more supplies. This was a village, not just one tiny garden. I headed to the local garden center for some small river rock and some pea gravel. The rock could be used for edging roads and the pea gravel for pathways. Then it was out into my garden for more supplies, some twigs, moss and succulents. I was also able to get some shiny coloured glass stones at the thrift shop. They could be used as water in a pond. I found some tiny containers to use for ponds, some popsicle sticks to use for fencing and string to use for tying.
After weeks of tracking down supplies, I set them up on four tables and we had seven children in each group eager to get going. The children had learned about communities at school the week before so they practiced what they had learned. They knew one person in each group would be the leader and the others would be given a task. They all worked together to complete their garden by discussing their plan ahead of time, looking over the supplies and then getting down to creating.
They had so, so much fun!!! Above you can see the lighthouse that I was able to find to make sure each group had a building for their garden. Miniature gardening is delicate work and the children were very careful not to step on the Violas that circled each garden.
The children that created this miniature garden called it Mr B’s farm. I was able to find a character for each garden. They even have a tiny pig who is living a life of luxury in his new bed and an overturned plant pot to sleep in at night. The children even built a clothesline in the garden.
The plastic containers from the Dollar store made great ponds sunk into the ground. The ducks are loving their new home.
I love this little girl in one of the gardens. In this garden the children created a forest for her to walk in. They used pinecones and greenery and succulents in the forest.
In this garden the children leaned towards a beach theme. They created a river along one side and lined the bank with small rocks. I love how they used the bark to make tunnels in their garden. The bark had fallen off the stumps we use for our seating area and I had hoped to find a creative way to use them. Who knows, we may have fairies take up residence.
The little character on the river bank is so west coast with a raincoat on. It’s a good thing as we are expecting rain tomorrow. How long did it take to create this miniature village? With 28 children, it took just an hour. The cost was minimal as it was mostly thrift shop and found items. Last night I went back to check on the garden to find one of our allotment gardeners walking through the miniature village. She looked at me and said she loved whoever planted whimsy in our garden. She also wanted to know if she could help maintain the garden. How could I say no? I added a few larger plants around the outside of the garden in hopes that people won’t let their dogs run through. This is in a public park so we may lose a few items, hopefully not. I would love to create a circle of sunflowers to enclose this space so I did just that. Later I will add some landscape fabric to the main paths and add some mulch to keep it weed free.
This was a fun way to end the school year. All I can wonder is how the class of September will like the garden. I am sure they will.