by Connie Oswald Stofko
A cat is curled up in one of the Adirondack chairs at the koi pond. On the table rests a goblet filled with Merlot, and the glass dome has been removed from a plate of cheese.
“It’s a miniature fantasy,” said Dan Meyer, greenhouse associate at Mischler’sFlorist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. “It’s a comfortable setting that makes you feel good. And you’re telling a story with plants.”
The miniature garden above has many possible storylines. Perhaps the scene reflects the good wishes of colleagues, and the garden is given as a gift to a retiree as he or she begins the next phase of life. Or perhaps it’s a gift from one friend to another as a thank you for special times shared at a summer cabin.
In another dish garden below, the table is set for two. Is it a relaxing snack with a friend at an outdoor cafe? A proposal? A wedding anniversary?
You can call them fairy gardens if you want, but in these miniature gardens, the scenes don’t have to include fairies, and they’re definitely not just for kids. They’re wonderful for your own home or patio, and they make wonderful gifts.
The birthday party below is an obvious choice as a birthday gift, and when the event is over, another scene could be set up in its place. These dish gardens are small enough to fit on the windowsill of someone in the hospital or in a nursing home, and the scene could be changed throughout the year.
Buy miniature gardens at Plantasia
You can buy dish gardens from Mischler’s this week at Plantasia at a special show price of $39.95.
Plantasia kicks off with a preview night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 19 at the Fairgrounds Event Center and Expo Hall, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg. Tickets are $15 and include admission and samplings. A cash bar will be available. Plantasia continues 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 20 to 22, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 23. Tickets on those days are $9 for adults (save $1 with the coupon), $6 for senior citizens ages 60 and over (no other discounts apply) and free for children 12 and under.
Create a miniature garden yourself
It’s fun to be creative and make your own dish gardens.
You can buy containers at Mischler’s or use a pot that you already have. You could even use an old wooden bowl as long as you add drainage holes, Meyer said.
Plants are an important part of these miniature gardens, and Mischler’s is expanding its offerings. There are plants that look like lawn and others that look like shrubs.
Then there are miniature and dwarf trees. These are smaller varieties of trees, explained Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s. Some might grow less than an inch a year; the tag on the plant will tell you how fast it will grow.
“If they don’t stay small enough,” Meyer added, “get the pruners out.”
These trees are like bonsai in that they are grown on a small scale. Bonsai, however, starts with regular varieties of trees that could grow to full size, but are carefully pruned to stay small. Even with careful pruning, a bonsai would be out of scale for these miniature gardens, which is why Mischler’s offers the dwarf and miniature varieties.
But these smaller varieties of trees have another thing in common with bonsai: They are outdoor plants, Yadon said. During the winter, you would keep them in a garage or take other steps to overwinter them.
If you want something you can keep inside all year long, choose only indoor plants.
Personalize it to make it your own
You can buy furniture and other accessories at Mischler’s, Meyer said, but there’s lots of room for creativity, too.
If you break a terra cotta pot, don’t throw it away. Smaller pieces can be used as stepping stones in your miniature garden, he said. And those large rim sections can become retaining walls so that you can build multiple levels in one bowl.
You can mix in your own keepsakes or items you find around the house.
Use a trinket in the shape of a kitten that you got as a kid from a bubble gum machine, a watering can that fell off an old charm bracelet or an old shoe that used to be a playing piece in a board game.
Use miniature gardens to tell your own story.
Mark your calendar for fairy garden workshops
If you’d like a little more direction, sign up for a fairy garden workshop at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.
They will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 at Mischler’s.
The cost is $20 per person per class.
For more information or to register, please call (716) 632-1290.