Cuteness! Tiny homemade details can easily reflect your personal style. You’ll spend just as much time getting these ingredients together than you will doing this tutorial. Make a few at the same time and have fun with them, you’ll get better after the second one you make.
DIY Christmas Decor for the Miniature Garden
Here are a couple of do-it-yourself tutorials for Christmas decorations for your miniature garden. Use the same color scheme as your “full-size” decorations throughout your house and garden, it will just add to the cute factor. Find miniature decorations up in our store, or I’ve mentioned where I’ve found them throughout this blog.
Here’s yet-another benefit from growing miniature conifers and small-leafed trees and shrubs: you can harvest them for miniature holiday decorations just like you would in “full-size.” Whenever I can, I save my miniature pruning duties for this time of year so I can use them for decorations. “Limbing-up” from the base of a dwarf conifer can shape it to be more tree-like. Prune way-ward branches from the top canopy of the tree to maintain the round-ness or over all shape of the foliage. Pruning also helps to send messages to the wee tree that you want the plant’s efforts and energy to be used elsewhere, like growing a thicker trunk and branches. Got a lot of pruning? Try wiring a miniature garland together.
The branches we used here were soaked in a solution of glycerin and water to help them last longer. Place 1 part glycerin and 15 parts water in yogurt tub or similar, and make sure the branches are submerged. Leave it in there for at least overnight, 24 hours is better. Glycerin is found in hand lotions, among other uses, and it helps to seal in moisture – which is why we love to soak our naturals in it to help them retain color and supple-ness, at least for a few weeks while we can enjoy them. Otherwise your wee branches would do what they normally do when brought inside a heated house: dry out and go brown within days. Experiment with different ratios for different plants and how long they will stay preserved. Add dye to the glycerin/water solution to change the color of light-colored naturals. Glycerin can be found at any art store or most drug stores. It comes in a small bottle and doesn’t cost much.
Miniature Wreath Tutorial:
Make a REAL miniature wreath for your miniature garden! Here’s how to make one from a spruce branch, and from a Boxleaf Euonymous branch. Any sturdy but bend-able branch with small leaves could work but experiment first if you are creating an important holiday display.
What the wreaths are made of, from top left clockwise: Mugo Pine, Euonymous, Cotoneaster, Dwarf Spruce
From the top left, clockwise: Cotoneaster, Mugo Pine, Thyme, Dwarf Spruce, Euonymous, Hinoki Cypress (lime green branch under Cotoneaster.) I didn’t mention varieties on purpose, you can use almost any type of small-leafed branch.
Dwarf Spruce Wreath
You’ll need a branch or two, some jewelry wire, needle-nosed pliers and a pair of flat-nosed pliers. Silver wire was used for this tutorial so you can see it, otherwise I would have used dark green wire to blend into the foliage.
If the branches are too short, wire two of them together to make a longer one.
Loop them around to make a wreath and wire them together. Work gently and do your best to work the wire in between the needles.
It may seem out of balance when you first start, but just go with it for now. Leave the wire ends for now, they will come in handy later.
Add some more wire wraps where its needed to tuck in some of the smaller branches closer to the circle.
Tiny details can be accumulated throughout the year. Miniature tinsel and glittery pompoms can be found at Michael’s Crafts along with the cherry picks. Tiny candy canes can be found at your local miniature store. I trimmed the ends off of a larger velvet bow to make a miniature one. Use tiny leaves and colorful branches for more texture and interest.
The bow is wrapped around with its own wire, the smaller details are hot-glued on. Notice the tiny sprig of hinoki cypress is used to brighten up the berries. BUT the bottom has too many branches and the top – not so much…
Decide on the “right” branch to snip off the bottom. This chosen branch was on the back of the wreath and could be easily cut off to lessen the bulk.
And, with a little bit of hot-glue, we add it to the top to help it balance out a bit.
Small Broadleaf Wreath
Broadleaf is a fancy name for a plant that has leaves – as opposed to needles on a pine tree for example. A lot of broadleaf plants are deciduous like Maple, Elm and Oak, but some are evergreen and keep their leaves throughout the seasons – thankfully, they help keep the landscape “green” in the middle of winter. We used an Euonymous branch for this tutorial. Same idea as the spruce wreath above, but with a different twist because of the leaves.
A way-ward branch pruned from a Boxleafed Euonymous from our in-ground miniature garden.
Strip away the leaves inside the natural curve of the branch .
You can pinch off the more tender, top branches as you work along the stem.
Ready to shape into a circle.
Bend it around carefully. Wire it in place. Work the wire in between the leaves gently to get to the stem. The leaves and stem toward the top of the branch are going to be more tender so don’t force the wire too much or it will cut right through the branch.
- Gently pull the wire taunt to hold the branches where you want them.
Twist the wires gently together with your fingers, tighten them gently with flat-nosed pliers. Leave the excess wire in place – don’t cut it off yet.
Now that you have the wreath shape, edit out the leaves that clash or distort the design.
Use the excess wire from the wrapping to create a loop on the back of the wreath to hang it with. Round-nose pliers work well to make tiny wire loops.
Wrapped with a little tinsel garland, hot-glued the poinsettia flower with more lime-green hinoki leaves to finish it off. Looks like a holiday!
When you are in you miniature garden, harvesting branches for this fun diy, choose a couple of sets of each type of branch that you want to work with; if you totally mess up you have a couple of chances to get it right.
MAKE IT LAST: If you are keeping your miniature wreath indoors for a couple/few weeks throughout the season, make a couple of them to rotate in and out the scene. Because they are living wreaths, they will do better in the cold and damp than inside in the forced, heated air. Make a 2 or 3 or 4 wreaths, treat them like a corsage or boutonniere and keep them in a take-out container in the fridge with a damp paper towel on the bottom of the container. The amount of time they will last will vary, depending upon how long you soaked them in the glycerin/water solution, what kind of branch they are and what conditions they are displayed in.
Quick Miniature Garden Holiday Garden Art
Some things are worth repeating, huh? If you haven’t explored your local fabric store’s selection of seasonal buttons, it’s worth the drive. There are a ton of different ideas out there. Here is a fast and fun way to make decorative garden stakes for your miniature garden.
These were made about eight years ago: buttons hot-glued to plastic lollipop sticks. Some of the glue has yellowed, but you would have to be up-close to see that. Other ornaments needed a bit of highlighting with a touch of gold or silver to refreshen the details.
The reindeer buttons were mounted on the sticks to look like they were galloping. This fun project is one that kids can do too.
Miniature Tree Ornaments
The same buttons can be use for ornaments. Instead of trying to painstakingly wire or loop each and every ornament to tiny branches, use metallic pipe cleaners to make an ornament from any button. Poke the wired-button into the tree’s branches, it’ll stay there if the tree isn’t moved around a lot. If do want to make a decorated tree that will be moved or carried, use strands of garlands and miniature lights and wire the ends of the strings in place. This will save you a lot of fussing around.
You will need: buttons, lollipop sticks, pliers, hot-glue gun and about 5 minutes. The lollipop sticks can be found at Michael’s Crafts.
Clip off button loop with pliers.
Look at the front of the button to see which way you want it mounted on the stick. Squeeze glue in a small line to get maximum surface contact.
Stick the stick the way that you want it stuck. ;o)
If the button pattern is asymmetrical, mount the buttons on the stem in a different rotation so they look different.
Want to add snow? Here’s what we found out about that idea – click here.
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