Wednesday, February 27, 2013



Dear All,
Soon the gardener will be outside the walls wearing her large sun hat and armed with her clippers. Foliage will fly, the spiders will scatter and soon all will be, once more, under control!

I am sure there is a little birds nest in the tree near the gate. I am pretty sure the chicks  fledged earlier in August but I will walk very quietly past just in case.

Mini Hedge Workbook:

Our friend Fatima brought the mat displayed below for show and tell at one of our mini musketeers get togethers and said. "Perhaps you would like to take some of this greenery and see what can be done with it."

Elizabeth of jumped for joy and said: "It is a hedge".
Yes, Elizabeth, you were right  - once again.
Fatima gave me the whole mat to see if it would work and I think it works very well. The price is certainly right!  Thanks Fatima for your sharp eyes and generosity!

You can see by the photo above that the foliage is on a grid, each plant can be used individually or as a run. I cut the left side two narrow rectangles and glued it on to cardboard. I then filled the rectangles with white glue and pressed my tea/coffee dirt mix into the glue to form a semblance of a garden bed. The piece below was cut off the run as it was  too long.

Here is an unfinished wall.

Now the hedge is sitting in place. You can see part of the garden soil on the right hand edge.
I think it took about an hour to get the hedging into place. I will have to do some fine tuning but it was such an easy project.

The gardener will consider if the hedge needs some infill planting and perhaps some minor pruning.

Oh, I can do all that in the late afternoon, it's too hot to work. I think I'll retire into the shade, drink lemonade and read a book. 

Regards Janine

PS. My book club LAFF, Literary Association for Fun has just read Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a tale about the Biafran War and events leading up to their attempt to separate from Nigeria. A great book for discussion.

There are ten members of LAFF. We meet once a month except July and August and each takes a turn to host an evening of lively discussion, good food and of course wine! 

Our LAFF group has been together for twenty years. I was so grateful they saved my place for me while I was travelling.

Regards Janine

Friday, February 22, 2013

Garden Distractions:

It only takes a minute for things to go wrong.  Someone left the gate open while Grandma ran  inside to answer the phone.

Don't worry he did not like the taste of crayon and soon departed.

That was fortutitious as the courtyard is being prepared for a summer evening party.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vegetable Garden:

The August harvest diminishes to those vegetables that tolerate the hot and dry weather. Tomatoes ripen into sweet treats in the sun and pears weigh heavily on the espalier supports. Beans must be picked daily before they attract Jack of Beanstalk fame.
We allow the chives to flower so we can listen to the hum of the bees tumbling about in the nectar.

Now I will take you back to the beginning - perhaps it will be of some help to see the steps I took to develop this little vegetable garden.

A blank slate. I felt blank also. I knew I wanted to have espaliered fruit on the wall. I hoped I could reproduce a bean tripod as well as a tomato plant - carrots were easy, lettuce not satisfactory but chives and lavender quite cheerful.

Above you can see the brass frame and the tree framework for the pear tree.  I painted the frame later to dull the finish. It made quite a difference. I have also installed a small swivel light in the right corner. It has a battery pack concealed under the garden platform and a rocker switch on the outside allows it to be turned on easily.

I originally thought I would have two tripods of the same height - one for beans and one for tomatoes. I did make them both but reduced the size of the tomato as it blocked the fruit tree too much.

The foliage on the bean, tomato and pear are an adaptation of plastic foliage I have found inexpensively in dollar stores. I topped the bamboo tripod, acquired from a deconstructed table mat, with painted wooden plant pots. Tomatoes are painted seed pods from Pieris Japonica - look for them this spring and dry them.

The beans are made from Fimo and tiny bean flowers from tiny bits of a white flower.

You can see that I have worked on each plant using a platform of foam that I covered with a tea/coffee grinds mix to represent soil.

Carrot tops are painted lichen I gathered while away last summer. The pavers are made from the tops of cardboard egg cartons. The texture is fantastic, they are easily cut and a dusting of crushed brown or grey chalk gives such a realistic effect. I look forward to using the egg cartons as bricks or pavers in the future.

Above the parts are beginning to be placed to fill the space available.

 Now for the pear tree:

It was so much easier to work on the wall when it could be removed. Once the garden was complete I glued the wall into place. The pears are made with Translucent Fimo and Spanish Olive coloured Sculpy. I shaped them then made a little cross at the base with a needle while I held the pear with an ice pick-type tool to create a space for the stalk.

Using crushed chalk I put a tiny dot of brown on the blossom end with a needle. The pears are brushed with brown and a variety of yellow chalks then baked on tin foil for about 15 minutes at 300F. It was too long, as some smaller pears turned very brown. You can see a couple of the rejects with the compost pile in the wheelbarrow.

I also used a reject pear to drop on the soil with some leaves spotted yellow and brown. I had to shape each leaf into a more rounded shape. After these photos were taken I painted the frame and used a dry brush to yellow some of the lower leaves and also edge some with brown acrylic paint. All these small effects help make it more realistic. I don't know really what I am doing but as it is miniature nothing is irretrievable. ... and it is so much fun when one feels successful!

Below is an overall view of progress to date:

 I  want to impress upon new mini hobbyists in blogland that it is not necessary to spend mega dollars to enjoy our interesting and varied hobby so hope my descriptions are not too long winded.

Some of you may not yet have seen my friend Elizabeths blog, and many tutorials at .  Elizabeth's sure eye for scale and clever ideas are a pleasure to follow. Enjoy!

Thank you to those who take the time to visit and follow my blog. I do take time to visit your blogs as well, often lurking if I am not on my own computer.

All the best.