Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:42PM - 387 Views

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One project for children that can double as a gift for family and friends this holiday season is creating a miniature garden together.

People's imaginations run wild and that allows them to do anything they want. They can have a beach or winter scene. Gardening is all about fantasy – creating a little Eden thing, said Paul Epsom, Greystone Gardens owner

Over the last year there has been an explosion in popularity of using container gardens as decorating items, according to Epsom. Whether it's with plants or hardscapes, people have fun with them (miniature gardens) and they can change them seasonally, he said.

Yes, even as winter arrives, you can still garden.

A kitchen table covered with plastic is a good place to work, and to get started, you will need a container; soil; stones gathered outside; plants if desired and other accoutrements including miniature arbors, bridges, fencing, a birdhouse and gnomes. Depending on choices, a miniature garden can cost as little as $20.

It's just a fun thing for kids to do, he said. When choosing a container, said Epsom, You don't want something that's going to break down with water, but anything made out of wood – an old crate or seed tray will work, or a small wheelbarrow, pots… it doesn't have to be expensive.

To incorporate plants into the miniature garden scheme, Epsom said, Alpine plants are a particularly good choice because they require very little maintenance.

The nice thing about Alpine plants is they often thrive on neglect and can take dry conditions because they grow naturally in a very well-drained soil high up in the mountains…As long as the drainage is there, you can mimic that (in a container garden), he said.

Some of the plants he suggested are boxwood, juniper, false cypress, succulents and lots of spreading ground covers.

We always keep a collection of plants through the holiday season. Any of the smaller creeping plants such as Hens and Chicks and Sedum will work and herbs such as Creeping Thyme and Rosemary can also be added to the mix.

The location to display the miniature garden – inside or outside – will dictate the type of soil and plants you should use.

If you want to have plants that can survive outside all year, then drainage is very important. We use a gravelly soil mix with a little bit of organic matter, said Epsom.

One of the benefits of creating miniature gardens with children is they can help teach children to be gardeners.

Kids can learn about plants and designing a garden, and it (your miniature garden) can also be used as a model for a larger garden, in the same way an architect creates a model. As a gardening tool, it's a great for getting an idea, said Epsom.

Greystone Gardens is located at 829 Old State Road, Clarks Summit. For more information, call 570.586.5493.

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