Dime stores, too, sometimes have plants small enough to serve for a while. Even weeds of the proper size and interesting structure may be utilized.
The tray garden is simply a dish garden on a slightly grander scale. The container should be large enough to fill the entire breadth of a window. One made to order by a tinsmith would be ideal. A standard seed flat would do verv well on window ledges that are broad enough. Or someone in the family might construct a planting pan to fit the space available out of the easily-bendable sheet aluminum used by hobbyists. Since this tray is for live, growing plants, it should be four or five inches deep.
When the tray is ready, cover the bottom with about an inch of drainage material, plus a good sprinkling of charcoal to keep the soil sweet. Cover this with three inches or so of good potting soil, which can be had ready-packaged. If you
mix your own, use a good loam with some peatmoss and sand, adding a very little dried manure and a sprinkling of bone-meal.
For the construction of physical features you will want to round up a supply of materials ahead of time. Sand may be needed for beaches, paths or desert scenes, small pebbles for stream beds or stone walls, little rough rocks for boulder out-croppings, cliffs and rock gardens, or pieces of slate for flagstone terraces and walks. Twigs and branches will make rustic fences, stumps, trellises, logs, log cabins, and winter-bare deciduous trees. Mirrors can represent pools and lakes. Modeling clay can be formed into many small objects such as bird baths or little huts. It also comes in handy at times for making small receptacles to hold water for certain plants.
To give a touch of reality to the chosen theme you may use miniature animals, birds, Indians, skating parties or any of the many tiny figures to be found in novelty shops. However, do use these things with discretion. A few can help create the illusion of a living landscape. Too many will cheapen the effort and give it a gimcrack aspect.
As for plant material, the list of possibilities is long. For instance:
Grass seed, thickly sown, will produce a fine lawn in no time. It can be kept mowed with a pair of scissors.
A redwood burl will quickly make a wooded hill.
Miniature palm trees can be purchased from southern house-plant dealers.
Willow cuttings, placed in water, will sprout a mist of small green leaves, suitable for realistic stream-bed plantings, windbreaks, or single trees.
Citrus seeds will make little groves, foundation plantings, or single specimen trees.