Fun with Scale in the Miniature Garden
It’s usually one of the last things that I show my class when I’m demonstrating how to put a miniature garden together that will last for years. It may look like a trick, but it’s not really, it’s just the way our brains relate to size.
The following is a loose excerpt from my upcoming book on Miniature Gardening from Timber Press.:
When moving down into the miniature scale in gardening, it is necessary to have at least one garden bench, a birdhouse or something “man-made” and to scale – if it is to be a true garden in miniature.
If it were a container of miniature trees and ground covers, it would be a trough, or sink garden. If it were several miniature conifers and moss in a garden bed, it would be a collector’s garden, a conifer garden or an alpine garden. Add some rocks and you have a rock garden.
With the addition of a mini garden accessory, all of sudden you have an enchanting, living scene of a true garden in miniature because there is that recognition, or “entry point,” for the brain to recognize that it is a miniature garden and not a bunch of plants in a pot.
Just one man-made mini garden accessory can turn your “bunch of plants in a pot” into a small, enchanting world. It’s not magic – but it is divine when you do achieve that essence of a living garden in miniature. And as in life-sized gardens, there are materials that work better than others, plus a few design tips that help us bring it all together too.
The size of the miniature garden accessory dictates the scale of the garden. If you have the same accessory in 1” scale and in ½” scale, place the larger one in your mini garden first. Notice that the plants are all good size, not too large and probably just right. Now, take out the 1” scale item and replace it with ½” scale item and watch the trees and plants become giants in the wee landscape.
What has happened is the accessory has given the brain an entry point into identifying the
“size” of the garden.
Once the brain sees a wee bench in a mini garden, it knows automatically what size that bench is in real-life and immediately sees the rest of the garden as being in that same scale by using the size of the bench as the reference point.
By switching to the ½” scale bench, the brain again uses the bench as the reference point, and again relates the size of the bench to the plants – and the plants are now majestic trees in a mini garden.
Study the pictures for a moment to note how the trees change size too. Fun, huh? ;o)