Over the years I have been collecting vintage gardening and flora books and within that collection there is a particular one that I fortunately revisited over the holidays -- Florence Casebolt's Button Gardens and Diminutive Arrangements. Page by page of Ikebana like miniature landscapes can only make one smile. I am lucky enough to have a friend who had been saving a craft box to send to her niece full of miscellaneous bits and pieces of fodder that she had saved since her childhood and luckily I own a plant store. What else would one do after a nice holiday meal other than get together with some girlfriends and make some button gardens? The time seamed right to pull this ultra crafty maneuver off. It is a great family project to do with the kids, and also a fun project for adults who still know how to play.
The range of things spread out on the table was quite impressive and messy -- dried moss, live plants, plastic bits from jewelry, little figurines, and of course some tubes of glitter in various shades . You have got to have a little bling sometimes. Creating these gardens in miniature not only made me think like a child again, easing the stress from the holidays, but also pacified the thought that I have not been able to work in my garden and will not for quite some time due to winter.
With all of the materials spread out on the dining table the first thing we needed to do was choose vessels for our "gardens." We decided on one rock, a votive candle holder, a teacup and one large button. To balance out the glitter and plastic fodder we decided we might need some dried natural material as well -- the three of us went out to my backyard and scavenged dried flower heads and seed pods out from my perennials that have long since retreated to the ground -- perfect for creating "trees". One thing that I could not have lived without during this process was the glue gun. Try gluing plastic floral shaped beads or buttons to the tops of tooth picks to give your figurines a shady retreat. It gives your "garden" that twilight zone feel that makes these arrangements so intriguing. You can actually use live tropical plant material in some cases with succulents being the most ideal. Succulents tend to have a shallow root system and are more than happy being in tight corners. Succulents propagate at will so you are able to use cuttings of larger plants to create that miniature look. Other plants you will find success with are live mosses or Pilea Depressa, things that creep and have shallow root systems tend to be the easiest to work with. Have fun and keep playing -- I could not have asked for a better night at home with the girls.