Tuesday, March 21, 2006

But will Tinkerbell Keep the Lawn Mowed?

Article: News - O.C. woman pioneered miniature gardening

If you've been tempted by garden books featuring lavish spreads with multiple "garden rooms" surrounding the ancient family manor somewhere out in West Blueblood, Stuffyshire, yet you're stuck with a postage-stamp-sized yard in Suburbia, U.S.A., all is not lost yet. You can have your beautiful garden, if you scale it down -- waaaay down.

Miniature gardens are suddenly all the rage. Beverly Turner (see article link, above) started one as landscaping for the dollhouse she'd wanted ever since she was a child. A born gardener, Turner soon created a miniature artificial garden that was larger than the house.

Then the thought struck her: why not make a garden like this out of real plants?

She did just that as a display for the nursery where she works as head designer. In a raised bed she created a toy-sized perfect little gardening world, with paths, houses, waterfeatures, the works. Now, nearly a quarter of the nursery's sales are miniature gardens. And several of those have gone home with Turner herself.

Hmm... ya know, I think I've got a big old bowl somewhere... and some figurines... and a tiny water pump...

1 comment:

Reed Boyer said...

I have the pleasure to know Beverly Turner personally; the article on "fairy gardens" barely scratches the surface.

Unfortunately, the writer seems to trivialize the concept of "miniaturized gardens" by concentrating on the whimsical aspects of the form. Picture, if you will, a container garden ... now raise the quality of its presentation to a par with Hampton Court's Privy Garden.

Turner, from my experience, has a facility for landscape design in limited spaces that verges on genius. Coupled with this is a shrewd practicality and regard for ease of maintenance that workaday gardeners will appreciate as an art in itself. (Imagine, if you will, a miniature version of the Hampton Court Privy Garden that takes only 10 minutes per week to maintain ... )

Her interest in finding new small-form plants to use has led to an association with a mid-state nursery that now has dozens of them available to the market ... and her passion for "old" plants (hardier, low-maintenance strains of such things as "old roses," for instance) has helped to revive interest in the preservation of many species that have languished, unappreciated, as the vagaries of the commercial market have virtually eliminated their availability to the consumer.

Finally, a bit of personal testimony: I live in an odd coastal area that has persistent early-to-mid-Spring morning gloom and fog, coupled with a marine atmosphere; the later summer weather is unrelentingly sunny and climbs to a hellishly hot and dry climax in September. I was a "black thumb" gardener for years.

Since Bev is always willing to share her knowledge, I asked her for help. With typical generosity, she gave me two pieces of advice, both inexpensive and easily-implemented ... and a year later, I had a transformed front balcony garden, visible from the street, which passers-by often stop to appreciate. My landlords were delighted and now, eight years later, often ask me for advice on the landscaping of their other properties ... and Beverly, with typical generosity, never asked for a penny for her advice, time, nor expertise.

Reed Boyer
Long Beach, California