My miniature New Zealand garden started with a sheep.
Glass sheep, crafted in New Zealand
Wooly sheep are an iconic Kiwi symbol of course, but this glass sheep sporting a charming grin is a gift from our gracious New Zealand hosts.
Pauline and her daughters presented each of us with a bag of New Zealand goodness at the start of our visit earlier this year. In case you missed it you can catch up here and here. Among the treasures were Pauline’s hand-made cards, delicious, local chocolates, and the sheep that launched my miniature garden.
Part of the fun of pulling together a miniature garden is using items you already have. If you can pick something up from the garden floor, that’s even better. The challenge is finding small-scale plants and flowers. I wanted to keep this miniature garden water wise, so I used succulents and drought-tolerant herbs. Dried moss defines the grassy area, so it looks like grass but doesn’t need watering.
Small-scale, water wise plants
I’ve found from experience that shallow planters dry out quickly. I wanted to find a container that would allow for deeper roots, but one that would fit nicely on our back steps. I combed several nurseries and garden centers and in the end, I found what I needed in our back yard: our hose bowl. Serendipity!
Hose bowl with the old hose (and Mouse)
I put up with our ornery garden hose for several years, so when it finally broke, I happily replaced it, this time with a retractable one. They don’t get tangled or require taming like the typical garden hose, especially when cold. Further, they shrink into a small space. I store my new hose in a much smaller pot and I repurposed the hose bowl into the base for my miniature New Zealand garden.
Hose bowl hole plugged with perfectly sized jar; lava rock for drainage
What separates a hose bowl from a regular pot is the hole for threading the hose. I easily solved that problem by blocking the hole with a perfectly sized jar, (more serendipity) then lined the bottom with a layer of lava rock. I filled the rest of the bowl with planting mix and then could get started on the garden.
You may remember this photo from Hobbiton the Movie Set.
Hobbit Hole, Hobbiton the Movie Set
I used this image as a starting point for the garden. In addition to the glass sheep, I made a walkway using Pāua shells gathered along the beach. I bought a few more packaged shells in Wanaka. As serendipity would have it, I’m growing New Zealand flax in our back garden. I used that as well.
Here is my miniature garden homage to New Zealand.
(Click each gallery photo for details)
Vintage door stop
Back of vintage door stop ($5 at a local shop)
Toothpicks for window
Broken jewelry finding, formerly an optometrist’s lens
Wrapping from potting soil
The glass reflects the flowers cut from the potting soil bag
Beach combing in New Zealand
Mixture of shells line the walk way of dried fern
Broken fountain (back of Hobbit hole)
Broken fountain pieces use to frame Hobbit hole
New Zealand growing in my garden
To create a grassy roof, I removed the bottom of two plant cell packs then placed them on the soil in the back. I left the sides of the container in place. The roots can grow down into the pot, but the containers will hold their shape. The glass sheep “grazes” along the roof.
The Hobbit hole’s hilly roof
I used a small wooden stepping “stone” from one of my fairy gardens for the door. I glued a couple of embellishments from my scrapbooking supplies for the door handle and knocker.
Hobbit hole door
Just like the movie set, the frame of the Hobbit hole is a facade. Pieces of a broken desk-top fountain create the foundation. “Lumber” across the top and sides are twigs dropped from a neighboring pine tree, pruned branches, and detritus from the garden floor. The lower half of the house is covered with dried New Zealand flax.
Broken fountain pieces use to frame Hobbit hole
Hobbit hole facade made from slate, flax, glass, wood, and recycled plant stakes
Hobbit hole window (photo taken before the glue dried, now clear)
The Hobbit window “reflects” a piece of plastic from the bag of soil. The crossbars are yellow toothpicks cut to size with a small plastic clip in the center. Getting the plastic and the glass to stay put till the glue dried proved to be a slippery affair, but I finally got it to hold.
Hobbit hole window
My friend Kelly sent me the small chair and the lantern you see hanging from the house. Aren’t they cute? Believe it or not I had a small, rusty watering can, once planted with a tiny succulent. The scale is off, but I love it there anyway.
Finally, a pair of spotted red and white fungus, similar to what we saw growing in Wanaka. I’ll say it again: serendipity!
More of the natural beauty of New Zealand
Spotted fungus growing in the Wanaka house garden
Sheep grazing above the Dunedin harbour
Winery on the Northern Island
Blue skies, sandy beaches, wonderful people
Looking down over Queenstown, New Zealand
I can see the miniature garden from our bedroom and our living room. It’s another beautiful reminder of an extraordinary trip.
Miniature Kiwi garden in the foreground. New Zealand flax growing at the corner of the house