A Garden For All: Twigology 101: The Study of Twigs
Who would have thought that twigs could have so much value to some people? I have a twig collection. My husband calls it an addiction. But, you never know when you may need a twig- really, I’m serious! (You’re laughing aren’t you?)
I had been in business for a couple of years, when I got this email from a concerned wife of a railroad gardener. (Railroad gardening is the grandfather of mini gardening, so to speak.) She was looking for mini logs for her husband’s model train layout, and wondered if I had any for sale. I emailed her back and politely told her to go out and pick up a branch and make some. I tried to be as nice as possible, but I didn’t see the point in searching for plastic copies of something when realism is key. I never heard from her again.
Twigs can be used for a lot of props in a mini garden. A variety of furniture can be made, chairs, benches, fairy huts, arbors, decks and more. If you want fun and fantasy that doesn’t cost much, twigs are an endless source of inspiration and crafting.
And every twig is different too. The Spirea tree gives me shiny, straight, skinny branches. The Cedar hedge has the rustic look down with its textured bark, the Madrona bush has branches that are a lovely shade of red, and they get more interesting with age too. Even the dreaded English Ivy has useful potential when thinking mini garden accessories.
Here are some things I’ve learned about working with twigs:
– Bend them for miniature arbors and trellises when they are just harvested and still supple. If you don’t have time to complete the project right there and then, at least bend them and let them dry in the right sized box, with a gentle curve to the top and the sides parallel to each other. You can put the cross pieces on later by wrapping floral wire neatly around where the two pieces join.
– With any ivy, hops or strawberry vines, work with it while it’s fresh too. You can wind it in circles for wreaths, or ovals for future mini arbors, or door and window frames, to let dry and work with later.
– When making fences, notch the join for a more secure fit. Use a small handsaw and a sharp knife to whittle out the notches to make country fences.
– Figure out a simple crosshatch wrap for your wire joins to the wire to keep it at a minimum. Jewelry pliers and wire cutters are great for this kind of work.
– After the twig dries, you’ll have to tighten the wire to make it rigid as the twig will shrink a bit. Drill or poke a small rod (some twigs will have soft centers) right into the bottom of the post/twig to make the fence stay upright in the garden soil.
– Experiment with branches from perennials too. After they fade in the fall, you’ll see the twiggy structure of the plant, and then see the potential.
– Mix and match to your heart’s content. It will just look more ornate and interesting.