Gardener's Grapevine 2012.02.29

Written by David Green.

Art and I went to Toledo Sunday afternoon for lunch and a trip to the art museum. The museum had a show going on titled “Small Worlds.” It was not what either of us expected. We expected miniature little scenes made by one artist. It looked really interesting on television and we decided to give it a try. The idea the artist was going for, is that we don’t need a large world or living space to occupy, we can exist in very little space. We shouldn’t be using huge spaces as individuals and we don’t need lots of things.

The artist built a small travel trailer that had the necessities we actually need to exist all in a space measuring about 8x10 feet. I agree that we don’t need mansions, but please…I don’t want my commode in the shower either!

There is definitely a valid point in noting that we need less stuff, and less stuff leads to less space needed. This all got me thinking about small gardens.

You can have a garden in almost no space at all. Many people have container gardens that sit on tables or patios due to lack of ground to till and use. Many plants come in miniatures. One of my favorites are miniature hostas. They have some really cute names, too, like cat and mouse; mouse ears—which look like tiny mouse ears; and a yellow saw leaf miniature called dragon tales.

Not all nurseries carry the miniature hostas. In order to find a good variety I would recommend searching on-line mail order nurseries. Mail order nurseries not only show a nice picture of a mature plant, but usually ship just before planting time and send directions on where and how to plant. I like a lot of different sites, but for hard to find plants I like waysidegardens.com.

There are also some beautiful miniature roses, and I have found them to be a lot more hardy than my large ever bloomers or heritage roses. I am by no means an expert or master gardener, all my knowledge comes from trial and error, reading, or seminars. I do know that Japanese beetles leave miniature roses alone, but will strip a large traditional rose of everything but stems. I know this because I’ve experienced it. The miniatures must taste awful because they won’t touch them. Not much messes with the miniature hostas either, unless you put them in the sun. So, like the artist at the museum, you can have a little garden if you so desire.

I love a tomato plant on the back porch, where I can just grab a few tomatoes for a salad. I’m not sure I could function in an 8x10 living space, but I do know there wouldn’t be a chance of it working if a little outdoor space wasn’t included. To be honest, our recycling bins take up more space than the entire trailer.

If you get the chance to go see “Small Worlds” its free and worth the drive. There are four artists featured and all are good in their own ways. One actually makes little miniature artist studios of actual artists; another makes miniatures and photographs them to look life-size; and another drew pictures of small homes in the Toledo area, starting with homes in poverty stricken areas and progressing to working middle class homes. It was all well done. The museum always comes through with interesting programs that make us think outside the box as well as all around and through the box. It’s that way in the garden, too.

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