( Originally Published 1932 )
How often have you longed for an opportunity to design, plan, and build your own garden? Surely every girl has dreamed of the garden she hopes to be mistress of some day. Possibly it is a beautiful, formal type, with its sunken Italian gar-den surrounded by ivy-covered walls. A formal pool, box hedges, trimmed evergreens, marble seats flanked by flowering shrubs. Symmetrically designed flower beds divided by velvety lawns that stretch away to a distant greenhouse.
Or is it one of those charming informal gardens made for children's laughter ? An old English walk leads to a hidden wishing-well surrounded by lovely flowering trees. Another flagstone path winds its way to a patio, where a brightly colored umbrella shades wicker furniture. Can you picture yourself there—pouring tea on a summer afternoon? And there in another corner is an old-fashioned rock garden surrounding a quaint lily pond, where your pet frog croaks his evening song.
Perhaps it is the useful garden that holds your fancy, where you can putter among the plants that later will furnish your table with its tasty vegetables. What fun it is to dream!
Garden modeling can bring you one or all of these. It offers the girl of today many happy hours of creative and instructive pastime. It whets the imagination, and tests the ingenuity of its enthusiasts, but never bores them.
Garden modeling allows one to design, plan, and execute gardens without thought of the pocketbook or consideration for land boundaries. You may make it any size, dress it in the rarest of plants, erect costly walls, build gates, pools, tennis courts, bridle paths, fences, furniture, bird houses, or any number of the lovely things which go to make a garden beautiful. Let us wave our wand and create a garden !
The first step in the work is to plan your ideal gar-den and then transfer it to paper. It may be your own garden or that of your neighbor. Possibly it has been seen in a garden magazine, seed catalogue, or a photograph. Your model may be an exact copy of it, or have changes which you think improve its beauty.
It may be a composite of a number of plans, but what-ever its source, a rough sketch of it should be made on paper. Study the sketch given here. It is a plan of the garden model shown in the photograph.
Note how the dimensions of the whole plot are worked out. Colors of various plants, shrubs, hedges, and flowers are indicated, and their names written in. The plan need be nothing more than a rough outline, as shown, but it must contain everything the model is to have when completed.
When this is finished, we are ready to start actual work. Our first need is to gather together the necessary material. For instructive purposes, let us build the model shown. The garden from which we make our model is fifty feet long and forty feet wide. As we wish our model to be fairly large, we use a scale of one half of an inch to one foot. In other words, every half inch on the model represents one foot of the real garden. Our model should then measure twenty-five inches long and twenty inches wide. .
The first necessity in garden modeling is a good base on which to build it. As flowers and trees must have their stems inserted into the base, it is apparent that our base should be of a material which can be easily pierced. Furthermore, the base should be strong with no tendency to warp or break. The writer recommends Plaster Board for this work, as it em-braces all these traits.
It has been found superior to wood or any other composition. Holes can easily be made in it, and yet it remains stiff and will not warp. Such a board is made of two thick layers of cardboard with an inner layer of plaster.
An inch margin around the entire model is helpful when handling, so our board is cut two inches longer and two inches wider than our model is to measure when completed. Our board should be twenty-seven inches long and twenty-two inches wide. Such a board may be obtained from any carpenter or building sup-ply house for a few cents. Instructions should be given to have it sawed with straight edges and squared sides. When delivered, its edges should be bound with passe partout or medical adhesive tape. This gives it a neat appearance and prevents loose plaster crumbling from the sides of the board. Clean off one side with a damp cloth and outline the four corner gardens on it with a sharp pencil. Mark each of these "garden" and the center portion of the board "grass.
Our materials for miniature garden modeling consist of anything or everything which can be utilized in the project. The success of the work depends largely on the ingenuity of the modeler to substitute or alter various materials, and use them on her gar-den so that they appear as the real objects in miniature.
Practically all the materials used can be purchased from a five-and-ten-cent store. The lawn is made of green sawdust, which is carried as a dust preventive for sweeping floors. This can also be purchased around Christmas, when it is sold for Christmas tree decorative purposes. If it cannot be found, ordinary white sawdust can be dyed green. Plasteline is an-other material which makes a splendid lawn.
Garden earth is obtained by using ground coffee or brown plasteline. Bushes, shrubs, hedges, and trees are easily made from artificial evergreen, or they may be formed from green sponge. The two small arbors shown in the illustration are made from doll's fencing, bought at a five-and-ten-cent store. These may also be formed from fine mesh netting or window screens. The small benches are of wood, while the bird bath, the birds, and the evergreen trees were purchased.
The garden borders are small evergreen stems with flowers made from colored paper punching glued to their, tops. Splendid fences may be made of match sticks. Gate posts are the same except the heads are left on. Pools may be constructed of small compact mirrors, surrounded by pebbles used in fish bowls.
Flagstone walks are easily made of slate-colored cardboard cut into odd shapes, while gravel walks develop from common beach sand or rough sand-paper. A beautiful rose trellis can be made from a ten-cent box of jackstraws. Flowers may be obtained a number of ways. Artificial sprays with small blossoms, such as forget-me-nots and lilies-of-the valley, are the most realistic. Small flowers cut from colored paper are also effective. Bits of thread, cot-ton, wool, or cloth may be mixed with glue and rolled into tiny balls. When dry, they are painted with water colors. Any of these blossoms may be painted any desired color and then glued in place on the stalks of artificial evergreens, which form the "bush" or "plant" of the flower.
Vines can be easily made with green string. Coat the string with glue and dip it into green sawdust, leaving it there until dry. Bushes and shrubs are constructed by binding with fine wire a number of sprays of the evergreen. These are then trimmed to shape the desired bush and their stems cut off evenly. If they are used to represent a flowering shrub, they are dipped in lacquer and set aside to dry. Give each several coats until the color predominates over the green.
These are a few of the many methods and materials which can be used in garden modeling. As the work progresses and new requirements arise, other and varied methods will present themselves as solutions.
But let us return to our garden and see how it is constructed. The bird bath is glued in the exact center of our board. Our lawn is now made. Coat the portion of the board marked "Grass" with glue. This should be applied rather heavily. The green sawdust is now sprinkled over the glue until quite thick. Pat it in place with the fingers, and allow half an hour for drying. Turn the board on its edge when the glue has dried, and blow off the excess sawdust. Do not brush it, as this is liable to remove some which would other-wise stay on the surface. The garden "earth" is now applied in the same way to each of the corner gardens.
All the twenty-four border bushes are now made and painted. Their color is of little importance, as this is not the model the reader will wish to make, but is merely used for instructive purposes. When you make your own model, each bush should be painted, as already directed, in the color desired.
When "planting" a bush, coat the end of its stems with glue. Apply glue to the spot on the baseboard where it is to be placed, and press it down. A pin can be thrust through the stem into the board to hold it in place until dry. Cut the stems different lengths so that the height of the bushes will vary.
The successful miniature garden model should have everything used on it attached to the base, so that when moved, nothing will become dislodged or misplaced. Because of this, all flowers, hedges, and other plants have their stems inserted in the board with glue. To assist in making the holes for these, an ice pick is used. A pair of tweezers should also be obtained with which to handle these tiny parts.
According to plan, a hedge connects the bushes, which form a solid outside border for our project. Short sprays of evergreen are cut for this purpose. With the pick, make a hole about a quarter-inch deep for each spray, apply glue to the stem, and insert the spray in it. Bunch them close together; and when all are in place, trim them with scissors. Some hedges are allowed to grow naturally, while others, such as box hedges, are shaped.
We are now ready to "plant" our inside border of flowers. Short stems of evergreen are cut and inserted in holes made along the garden border at the edge of the grass. These should be very low, giving the appearance of any flowering border. As they are "flowering," we must attach blossoms to our plants. With a pair of ordinary scissors, trim off the top of each of these plants, so that they appear more or less even. An ordinary paper punch is now needed. Such a punch can be purchased at any five-and-ten-cent store. From a package of colored "pinwheel" paper, pick out the various colors you wish to have for your border. These are punched out, and the little punchings are glued to the tops of the evergreen stems. A pin is used to pick up the tiny papers.
When the four borders are completed, we fill in each garden with our flowers. If ordinary artificial blossoms are used, they should be cut from the original sprays, inserted in holes, and painted any colors desired. Bunch them close together into small clusters of various colors, so as to give the appearance of individual planting. Give each color a different height, with all tall flowers at the rear of the garden next to the hedge, and graduating them down until those along the inside border are only slightly higher than the border itself. This completes the flower gardens.
The two small arbors at each entrance of the gar-den are now made. They are bent to shape from netting or doll's fencing, and painted white. The vines which cover them are made from string, as already explained. When dry, they are wound through the wire of the arbors, and small blossoms glued in place on them. Clipped feathers make splendid vines for the more delicate plants, such as wisteria or bridal wreath. They are dipped in lacquer for color effects.
When perfectly dry, holes are made in the base-board and the ends of the wire are inserted into them with glue. Five small rose bushes are made, and "planted" around the bird bath. Ivy is also planted around its base and trained up it. Apply glue to the evergreen stalks and tie them around the pedestal until dry.
The four evergreen trees, shown on each side of the garden benches, may be purchased, or made from sprays of the artificial evergreen. The small benches are now constructed of wood or heavy cardboard, painted white, and glued in place. These consist of a single top piece with two solid legs glued on each end.
The small birds shown on the bird bath may be purchased, as may a number of other garden accessories, from five-and-ten-cent stores, department stores, or bird stores. This completes our garden.
Miniature garden modeling offers the modeler more scope for ingenious and imaginative creation than any other type of work, as its limits are bound-less, and its possibilities numberless. Houses, barns, and other buildings may be made of cardboard to complete an entire "estate."
They have many uses beyond their mere beauty. As a guide for planting, the miniature model serves a unique need in that it gives a picture of any garden throughout the year. By "planting" the flowers likely to bloom month by month in the order they come, one can see at a glance how the garden will appear each month of the year.
They also make splendid and attractive additions to any garden show, and the writer knows of one girl who rents her model to stores as a window display.