Lilliputian Gardens

recommended soil mixture for alpines is:
one part loam
one part leaf mold (or peatmoss)
one-half part sand
one-half part grit (crushed granite or limestone
preferably) a light dusting of bonemeal

Fill box with this mixture to within about an inch of the top. After planting is done, cover the surface thinly with the same crushed stone used in the above formula, putting some of it carefully under the foliage of each little plant to keep it from touching the damp soil.

Rock garden specialists and seedsmen who feature unusual plants have many alpines diminutive enough for miniature land­scaping. There are some alpines no more than two or three inches high, and many in the four- to six-inch classification. Foliage is interestingly varied, and blossoms come in many colors. A few dwarf conifers exist, which are ideal for the "large trees" of the little garden. However, if these are hard to find, almost any conifer seedling may be used for a few years. It is easy to remove and replace them when they outgrow their site. Alpines are hardy, of course, originating as they do in moun­tainous areas all over the world, so if given proper soil and moisture requirements, they are encouragingly durable. Set­backs are most apt to come from plants that prove to be too sprawling in growth. Trial and error may have to determine which varieties are most satisfactory for the effects wanted.

The young landscape gardener should have a well worked out plan in mind before starting. This may be some little scene from memory, a picture, or something from his own imagina­tion. Soil, in most cases, should not be left montonously flat. Rocks representing natural boulders should be countersunk below the soil surface.

The English often place their sink gardens on balconies and window ledges. Used in this way they are a possible source of pleasure for an apartment-dweller, an elderly shut-in, or a long-term convalescent. Sink gardens are also kept on terraces, and in English gardens they are sometimes set atop concrete pedestals as lawn centerpieces. Wherever they are kept, they are pure delight to the lover of miniatures. They should be a source of happy gardening for the right child, too.

The dish garden is the simplest form of miniature land­scaping. Even in a twelve-inch shallow bowl there is room for some very realistic scenic reproductions. The planting must be carefully done to scale, and not so overcrowded that the idea is obscured. Woodland spots, mountain meadows, formal gar­dens, deserts, lake shores, and so on, all lend themselves to interpretation in miniature.

Dealers in house plants often have miniature house plant collections which are suitable: holly ferns, dracaena, syngo-nium, pilea, baby ivies, tiny wild ferns, young boxwood, and many others.