James Hilyard is Ipswich City Council’s Works, Parks and Recreation Department Principal Officer (Parks and Sport).
James is a horticulturalist, arborist and holds a masters degree in sustainability.
In this month’s column, James shares his tips for gardening in miniature.
Just because back yards are not as big as they used to be, doesn’t mean you can’t create an urban oasis at your home.
Small doesn’t have to mean uninspiring.
Vertical gardens, climbing vines, fruit tree pot plants, living screens and hanging gardens can all maximise small spaces.
The world has gone nuts for all things mini.
It’s not just grocery shoppers who are mad about miniatures, us gardeners like to stretch our imaginations and a fairy garden or miniature garden is the perfect excuse to get creative.
This is a gardening trend the whole family can do together.
I once spent a rainy afternoon making and painting miniature carrots for a fairy garden vege patch with my teenagers.
Everyone can get involved from grandparents to small children.
The first thing to do is decide on a theme.
Are you going for a traditional fairy garden complete with a fairy door, path and small plants?
These can all be built with bits of wood, sticks, rocks and bark.
Most fairy gardens start life in some sort of container filled with potting mix.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and I am a big fan of repurposing.
I have built fairy gardens in old BBQ lids, metal trunks and old copper pots.
The idea is to create a miniature world using plants.
Form and structure is added by using miniature furniture and other decorations.
Some of the best fairy gardens I have seen are miniatures of big gardens complete with gazebos, pergolas, park benches, vege patches and even chook sheds.
The idea is to create a tiny space to lure fairies.
It’s not just for fairies either, there is a trend toward more natural plants and less miniature features.
In a small display you might see three or four plants and only one little frog or mushroom. Glass terrarium displays often follow this model.
Thinking outside the (small) box, there are no rules that say you have to have a small container to have a miniature garden.
I often like to incorporate a mini garden into the existing landscape.
If you have a large pot that already has something established in it, instead of covering the exposed area with mulch, you can plant compact plants and succulents.
Plants like succulents are used a lot and they are cheap and easy to propagate.
Literally just break a piece off and stick it in the soil and more often than not it will develop roots and grow.
Dichondra is a popular plant to use for miniature lawns and ferns are also popular to represent trees.
Basically you are only limited by your own imagination.
And for all you manly gardeners, you can still barrack for the Rabbitohs, Broncos or Lions and have a fairy garden. Just put up a set of miniature goal posts and park a little commodore in a little shed with a little beer fridge.
Like I said you are only limited by your own imagination…
List of plants suitable for a fairy garden
Dwarf mondo grass