My Miniature New Zealand Garden

My miniature New Zealand garden started with a sheep.

New Zealand glass 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.

Miniature New Zealand garden plants

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 hose

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 with plugged hole

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.

Yellow Hobbit Hole, New Zealand

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)

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.

Miniature kiwi garden

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

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

Hobbit hole facade made from slate, flax, glass, wood, and recycled plant stakes

Hobbit hole window

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

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

I can see the miniature garden from our bedroom and our living room. It’s another beautiful reminder of an extraordinary trip.

Miniature New Zealand garden and flax

Miniature Kiwi garden in the foreground. New Zealand flax growing at the corner of the house

Loving New Zealand

Looking down over Queenstown, New Zealand

Every cliché you’ve heard about New Zealand is true.  There really are more sheep than people, the hills really are that green, and the water really is that clear.  New Zealanders are warm and friendly, epitomized by our hosts Pauline, Danella and Jo.

All the stresses of delayed flights and airport checks fell away with Pauline’s first embrace. I’ve been ensconced in a warm cocoon ever since.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since my last post Three Days in Dunedin.

Pauline organized a thrilling ride on a four-seater motor bike known as the trike. There are only seven of them in the world. Our charming guide Andrew met us at the city center known as the Octagon and graciously put up with all our picture-taking.  We maneuvered through town, then along the harbour and into the hills for a breathtaking view.  I should mention that we were also part of the view, as tourists waved and stared at this fascinating trike. I now have an inkling of what it must be like to be famous. Complete strangers smiled and waved and took pictures of us along the way.  What fun!

We were on the road for nearly an hour, wind in our hair, smiles on our faces, laughing much of the way. Experience Dunedin just celebrated their first anniversary. You can see some closeup shots of the trike on their Facebook page.

Back on terra firma, we stopped for lunch. While the others stayed on for drinks, Pauline organized a visit to her chiropractor to help with my gathering pain, the result of too many hours sitting on the long-haul flight. Did I mention the warm cocoon?

We rounded out the day with a walking tour of the University of Otago (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo). Danella has worked at this beautiful university for a decade.

Danella at University of Otago

Danella the trooper, still recovering from a broken leg

I inadvertently set my camera to manual, so many of my photos turned out dark and grainy. Here are a few to give you a flavor of the place.

University of Otago

Clock Tower University of Otago

If you want to see how a real photographer does it, please check out Laurie’s post University of Otago.

The following morning we were off to Wanaka (rhymes with Monica). We caravanned in two cars for the five-hour journey with several stops for lunch and photographs along the way. Steven is a CB radio enthusiast so he rigged the two cars with radios. We were in regular communication between cars, alerting each other for stops and other practical matters. There may also have been some singing in the round, just to keep things interesting.

As if!  It’s all interesting and wonderful. I’m like a mum with a new baby, constantly gushing at the wonder of it all.

I’ll share details of Wanaka and Queenstown in a future post.

Above Queenstown

You can catch up on the start of our journey by reading Three Days in Dunedin, followed by The Drive to Wanaka.

Blogging Babes in New Zealand

Pauline: The Contented Crafter

Laurie: Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

KPB: Boomdeeadda