Enchanting miniature gardens

Activity

Make a miniature garden on a small scale. Could it be a fantastic fairy hideaway or a Jurassic jungle?

  • Estimated time: 45 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Use the imagination to create a magical garden that fits around a theme
  • Experiment with using small, natural objects to mimic bigger objects
  • Can be used as the basis for a story or poem 

Essential background information

Preparation

Ask your group/children to think about what theme they would like their garden to have. Perhaps it could be a fairy forest or Jurassic jungle? Or maybe it could link to their favourite book? 

Have them sketch out some ideas onto paper to help them plan where things might go. 

If you're carrying out this activity in a classroom setting, you could use SketchUp or CAD and link this activity to the DT curriculum. 

Think about what plants your want to use to create your garden. Plug plants or cuttings with roots are great for adding instant colour. Herbs such as parsley, coriander or rosemary make great mini trees or shrubs and smell great. Grass seed or cat grass seed can create patches of lawn and will start growing in a few days.

Equipment

  • Paper and pens for planning
  • A container such as a seed tray, fruit punnet or mushroom tray
  • Potting compost or soil
  • Plug plants, cuttings and/or seeds of your choice that fit your theme
  • Natural materials such as moss, pines cones and twigs
  • Items for extra structures or decoration such as modelling clay, bottle/jar lids, lollypop sticks, pebbles and gravel
  • Miniature figures or toys fitting the theme

Step by step

  1. Fill the chosen container with compost or soil and gently pat down.
  2. Pop in the plants starting with your bigger plants first. Make a hole slightly larger than the pot or plugs that the plant is in already. Place the plant in the hole and firm the compost/soil around the roots. For cuttings, use your finger to make a hole before placing the cutting in and firming the compost/soil around it.
  3. Sow any seed directly into the compost/soil. Sprinkle a thin layer of compost/soil over the top of the seeds.
  4. Give everything a good water before you carry on. Use a fine spray to avoid upsetting any seeds or small cuttings.
  5. Add in any structures e.g. gravel paths, pebble stepping stones, lollypop stick houses, twig fences, bridges or dens. Lids from bottles and jars make great mini ponds or lakes!
  6. Add the finishing touches such as clay figures, toys or signs to bring the theme to life.
  7. Place the garden outside in a warm place or on a bright windowsill. 
  8. Keep mini plants and seeds watered so they don't dry out.

Hints & tips

  • Ask children to use their garden as the basis for a magical story or creative poem
  • Hold a competition between your class, group or family to see who can make the most creative garden. Or hold a competition at a local fair and invite members of the community to vote for their favourite.
  • Create an enchanted exhibition for your local community by placing the gardens in a woodland and creating a trail for people to follow and find them. You could charge entry to raise some money for your group.
  • Make the garden seasonal to add extra interest e.g. plant some spring bulbs, sprinkle over some petals for summer, add a couple of mini pumpkins for autumn decoration or make a twiggy reindeer for winter.
  • If the garden will sit outside, add some pollinator friendly plants to attract wildlife.
  • Take care when watering small gardens, particularly freshly sown seeds and small plants that are still bedding in. This milk bottle watering can made from a small recycled bottle could help do the trick.

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