Monday, 6 August 2012

Secret Vices

If I let you into a secret, will you promise not to tell?
I have a vice.
In fact I think I have several, but let's forget about the others.
This particular addiction is for miniature things.
I don't know where it started, because I didn't have a doll's house when I was little, but I think Elizabeth Goudge and 'the little things' were partly responsible - how I longed for Queen Mab's coach! And then there were tray gardens.

What could be more perfect than a tray garden, with a small mirror as a pond, and paths wherever you wanted them, and tiny flowers and trees - and - and - and...
Welcome to a different world.

I suggested that we do a tray garden workshop with the kids at Beltra Country Market, and on the back of it, we've also introduced tray gardens as a new class at Beltra Show which takes place on the first Saturday of September.
Oh what fun, what happiness!

Obviously it required a serious practice run at home beforehand!
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? And who better to help me than my lovely wwoofers, the Chico Cavalry!
They have - sadly - now sped over the hill whence they came, blowing their trumpets triumphantly to mark the wonderful things they achieved during their stay! A little moon garden has now replaced a rather sad and weedy section of the flower garden, with the guts of a pergola at one end, for which I am enormously grateful and will always remember them, but I hope they will remember their last Sunday with us when we spent a blissful afternoon making a tray garden as a centrepiece for the workshop.

I love it so much, I want to move in.

I hope you like it too.
You might want to take a bite of Alice's mushroom first.

This was before the fairy and solar lights were added.

The lily pond and sculpture. The goldfish is hiding under the lily pad.

Tea on the terrace

The dovecote amidst the blossom trees

On reflection, we could have made the toolshed a tad higher!. But who cares? It is properly constructed from stone and slate!

Surprise, surprise, the deckchair in the flower garden has already been bagged! No doubt its occupant is keeping a beady eye on the dovecote.

A dove's eye view of the kitchen garden and its little central pond. The cabbages are coming on well and there's a bumper crop of carrots.

The vegetable garden after the installation of the solar and fairy lights. There's a garden fork in the cabbage patch, if you feel like doing any weeding.

Looking towards the conservatory from the sculpture and the lily pond.

Fancy a drink on the terrace after a long hard day?
There's a bouquet of roses on the table for you, and please help yourself to the Licorice Allsorts.

Looking towards the flower garden from the stream. This was before the stream ponds were planted with water lilies, and before the solar lights were installed along all the paths.

As my friend DodoWoman said: 'You'll know you're addicted when you find yourself at 2am, brushing sand off your paths with a sable-haired paintbrush.'
When that happens, there is no hope of recovery.


  1. Wonderful, wonderful stuff! Who of us doesn't remember spending precious happy hours making our gardens as children, and with our children and grandchildren? Not that ours ever reached this grand scale. Very impressive and a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends.

    1. Thanks, Helen. Yes - hours and hours of magical fun.

  2. Very posh. We used to do miniature gardens as partof pets' day at primary school, bu I don"t recall anything as grand as this. Did you buy the accessories especially for this project?

    1. Only a couple - I had everything else already - and the wonderful 'solar lights' are cocktail sticks that my son gave me one Christmas, because they were so pretty! They are perfect for the job!

  3. Lovely idea! We have a backyard pergola "room" and I'm pretty sure it needs a miniature garden!

    1. It does, it does! You will wonder why you never created one before! Go for it - and have fun! It truly is addictive...

  4. That's so lovely, realy magical. Insiratonal trees.
    Love from Skippy

    1. I was thrilled with the trees too. I adore blossom trees, so these were just perfect for the job. I was thrilled that my cocktail sticks and my doll's house fairy lights worked so well, too!

  5. errr. dimensions please. taking photos out of Country Gardens Magazine and cleverly photoshopping them with subtle visual misdirection clues (viz the limpet shells, the casually placed spare wheel in pic 1 etc.) is NOT within the official rules of tray garden construction.

    If... on the other hand... you actually DID make this from scratch at 1:30 scale then you are quite clearly in the wrong job and I am phoning Nicholas Wulstan Park pronto with instructions to call you at once concerning his newest project (W. and G.: Land of the Scape Gardener).

    P.S. Why are none of your other commentees actually blown away by this, as am I. "Very Posh", "Lovely Idea", "Very impressive", "So lovely" !!! Come on people this is downright bloody incredible. The stuff of CGI. And knocked up on a Sunday afternoon between lunch and tea while the rest of us were recovering from an over-indulgence of roast potatoes and scratching our backsides! If you'd seen it in a Pixar movie you wouldn't have batted an eyelid. For heaven's sake dump your Chambers you lot and give the girl some real credit (and her assistants of course).

    Lorely you are amazing and you put the rest of us mortals to shame!

    1. Thank you, jfly! I am blown away by your appreciation.
      Yes, it is pretty much to doll's house scale, and the whole garden measures just 24 inches x 32 inches (61mm x 81mm). It was constructed in a baker's tray lined with black plastic.
      No photoshopping! It's all the real, genuine article!

  6. After that last comment I just feel the need to say:
    That is the most amazing tiny garden I have ever seen, the eye level views are perfect, the pond is amazing, I love it!
    I am inspired to attempt one of my own, I'm sure that my daughters would love to help although I can't imagine we would come any where close to your masterpiece!!!


    1. Thank you! Do make one - you and your girls will totally love it, and become hooked on miniature things! Happy gardening! Florists oasis is perfect for keeping real flowers alive for quite a long time. I used a small bottle with a nozzle to water the oasis every day (being such small pieces, they dry out quite quickly).

  7. OMG! Lorely you are amazing!!! The photos are spectacular. You are a gardener extraordinary in all sizes. A master of alternate realities!

  8. now those are what i call comments! thank you behindthewillows and connie for sharing my amazement. if you get sick of publishing all those novels Writing-From-The-Edge, then please take up photography and something creatively gardeny. Brilliantly inspiring!


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