Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Green........

It was a warm day here in Southwest Missouri and just eight days until Christmas. Looking for something green to plant as a decoration for a holiday brunch I walked by an "Autumn Fern" that was still lush, green, and looking prime. The last couple of weeks I have been building mini rock patios in several papercrete containers in anticipation of springtime plantings. As I carried the fern up the hill from the greenhouse I thought of the containers with the patios and it did not take long to match the plant with the planter. While the fern is a little disproportionate in size to a miniature garden it does fill the bill for something eye catching in combination with the smallness of everything else in the combo. I will file this in my bag of ideas for future presentations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Refilling the Inventory.........

The off season here at the farm is spent building inventory for the beginning of the Spring sales season. Every year brings an increase in sales and we have used our spare time to get ahead of schedule this Fall. Peggy has found several suitable new molds during the Summer and along with some new ideas we tested this year we think we will have an outstanding selection of items to offer.

One item that surprised us this year is what we called "the smalls". When molding larger items our recipe is adjusted to accommodate the size of the project we are working on. When we are finished there is always that glob left at the bottom of the bucket. Being the tightwads that we are we found some small containers to utilize that last bit of leftover mud. When I first began building them I thought maybe give them away as samples. We did plant a few with single succulents for display and soon found they were some of our best sellers. This year I have made it a priority to find some new shapes and sizes to include in our inventory.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just for Fun.........

Occasionally there is a chance to do something just for fun. It was mid September and the local Federated Garden Clubs gathered to hold their Fall Flower Show. A few local business were offered the opportunity to artistically display a table of products in addition to the show's regular display of horticultural selections and designs. Well the joke was on them as I have little or no artistic ability so I piled it out just as I would when I'm confined to vending in a small space. Needless to say it worked out well because many were interested in the product I had to display.

Miniature landscapes, fairy gardens, or whatever label you might attach to them are all the rage and that proved true during the two day event. Onlookers whether they be experienced gardeners or complete non gardeners were fascinated with gardens that were built to such a small scale. I certainly had a fun weekend answering questions and commenting on the gardens and supplies to build them. Like all things the party is soon over and I returned to the nursery to savor the quiet days, slow cups of coffee, and a chance to meditate on new garden designs for next years growing season. Hey if I run out of daylight I can always create a papercrete container or two!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Something New......

With a head full of ideas I occasionally find enough time and the right materials to put together a new design. During a renegade shower of rain this week I had time to pick through a pile of driftwood sticks gathered during a hike. This pile had laid in the corner of a coldframe for several months awaiting some unforseen project until I finally selected one to utilize as a handle for this papercrete trug. Now I need to determine what sort of plant material I need to fill it with. Succulents most likely..........

Almost every container built here at the farm gets tested buy one cat or another. In the evening as shadows grow the farm cats gather near the grow mat where we pile the finished containers and test those containers for proper size, shape, and comfort. We have not found a good explanation as to why they like them so well but you can find them lazing comfortably each evening. That's the cat named "DOG"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Papercrete Plus.......

Thanks to the Pinterest Community for the free flow of information in picture form. We have all heard it said, "a picture is worth a thousand words" and it still holds true if you can stretch a simple idea that far. Having seen certain materials used in such fashion I thought of a pile of driftwood sticks I gathered earlier in the Summer. They were originally collected for another project but a spur of the moment idea caused me to stop and put a tripod together to display a papercrete bowl.

Now that it is built I have let it sit by the door of the greenhouse so that each time I walk by I can study the form and nature of the creation. I'm waiting for some tidbit of inspiration to hit which will allow the utilization of a yet unknown item as a feature to create a miniature landscape around in the papercrete bowl.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Busy Summer.....

We have had a busy and very productive Summer. Following our trip to Natchez, Mississippi we moved on to
Monticello, Arkansas to vend at the Arkansas Master Gardeners State Conference. We found that folks in that area were ready to start creating small gardens. From there we moved on to

Wichita, Kansas to vend at the first annual "Hostapalooza", an event created and presented by the Wichita Hosta Society. We found that folks in south central Kansas like both Japanese maples and small gardens. From Wichita we made a mad dash home on Saturday evening to reload the truck and trailer for a Sunday trip to set up in St. Louis, Missouri.

Memorial Day found us vending at the 40th Annual "Gypsy Caravan" a fundraiser for the St. Louis Symphony. This was also a one day event catering to twenty thousand customers flea market style. We had a unique product and although the day was hot sales were exceptional. Since Memorial Day we have taught papercrete classes, held a miniature gardening workshop, traveled to Oregon to shop for new varieties of Japanese Maples and fairy Garden plants, and made preparations to travel to 

Pella, Iowa for the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa's State Convention. Pella is a gardening community and was a great location for us to serve some long time miniature garden lovers and try to infect everyone else with the "Fairy Gardening Virus" 

We have finally settled in at home to build a new supply of papercrete containers and fairy/miniature landscapes for our customers delight. We have a two week break before our next event. It's time to get busy!!

More Mini Gardens.....

I usually try to build my miniature landscapes or fairy gardens in papercrete pots but a shortage of time and demand for little gardens has forced me to build a few gardens in other style containers.You can see lots of other small gardens at the Magic Onions Blog

Miniature gardens are always fun to build and thanks to both customers demands and the suppliers willingness to develop the products we have the unique supplies to create these miniature masterpieces.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vending in Natchez, Mississippi.......

First let me say, "Natchez is great when it comes to Southern Hospitality, Barbeque, and Po-boy sandwiches" and thanks to everyone that made my time there such a joy. It's always nice to be surrounded by gardeners especially when you have a product in demand. The gardeners at the 2012 Southern Region Master Gardeners Conference have been a joy to vend to and share my experience with. The conference has opened a lot of doors to vending and speaking at future venues. Finally  I think I have done well to infect as many as possible to both the Japanese Maple and Miniature/fairy gardening virus.

Most of these pots found new homes somewhere in the South....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Speaking and Vending in Iowa....

April 14th found Peggy and I vending at the Garden Gala in Knoxville, Iowa. The annual event is organized and offered to area gardeners by the local Federated Garden Club. The registration is limited to two hundred and sells out early each year with little or no advertising. This year was our first invitation to the gathering and did we have fun.

I along with Mike Gooder, of the Plant Peddler and Marcia Leeper, Corporate Gardener for August Home Publishing Company were the featured speakers for the event. It was a real treat to hear both Mike and Marcia share their years of gardening knowledge with the group. If you grow any kind of bedding plants it is likely that at least a few of them were trialed at Mike's operation in Cresco, IA. If you have read a copy of the Garden Gate Magazine you have seen examples of Marcia's gardening ability. I was able to share a little bit about growing Japanese Maples in an Iowa environment.

I must have been well received as I was invited back to vend at the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa State Conference in June. I relish the opportunity!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Miniature Landscapes.......

 First you build some papercrete containers.....then you fill them up..........

These are the first of many that I will make for sale at the events I attend this year. You can see our vending schedule here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Vending Agenda....

Each year in March the Great Lakes Region Hosta Society hosts a gathering of approximately five hundred enthusiastic gardeners from across the United States, Canada, and Europe called the "Hosta College". The Gathering happens at the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in Piqua Ohio.

Friday night finds participants touring through the vending room, enjoying a rare and specialty plant auction, and socializing. Saturday is full of classes taught by volunteers on a wide variety of gardening subjects. You can find more information here.

April 14, 2012 you will find me vending and speaking to a great group of avid gardeners from Knoxville, Iowa and beyond. This event is organized by the Knoxville Federated Garden Club and is filled to capacity every year. The day will be filled with good food, good speakers, and plenty of vendors offering the different and unusual. You can find more information about the Garden Gala here.

 The 2012 Southern Region Master Gardener Conference is hosted as a partnership between the Mississippi Master Gardener Association and the Mississippi State University Extension Service. This Conference will be held in Natchez, Mississippi on May 1-4, 2012.  Join along with Master Gardeners from several states, vendors, horticultural experts, and garden writers to enjoy this experience. This will be our first opportunity to vend in this region and we are excited. Conference information is available here.

We will again be vending at the Arkansas State Master Gardener Conference. This year's conference will be held in Monticello, Arkansas on the campus of the University of Arkansas/Monticello.  We were invited to speak and vend at the 2011 conference held in Harrison, Arkansas. Peggy and I had such a wonderful time comparing notes with some of the best gardeners in the State of Arkansas so we are very pleased to have the opportunity to revisit their organization. Details about the conference are being finalized and I will provide a link to more information as it becomes available. Vending will be open to the public. Mark these dates May 17th-19th, 2012.


On May 26th I will be vending and speaking at an event being organized by the Wichita Hosta Society at the Sedgwick County Extension Building.   7001 w 21st N   Wichita, Kansas. It will be an all day event and will feature both speakers and vendors.  Download pdf. flyer here

The 40th anniversary of Gypsy Caravan, the annual Memorial Day shopping fair, is presented by the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association! One of the Midwest’s largest antique, craft, and flea markets, the Gypsy Caravan will take over the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Peggy and I along with vendors from more than 20 states will set up shop at the North County campus. The Gypsy Caravan is a fundraiser for the St. Louis Symphony and we are proud to support their efforts. Come see us on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. You can find more information about the event here

I speak and vend at many events throughout the country every year. I will be adding to this list as invitations and event information finalizes. I sell Japanese maples, dwarf & miniature conifers, miniature plant material, along with my papercrete containers and fairy garden/miniature landscaping supplies. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Warm January Day.....

January 15th and it is over fifty degrees outside. With those conditions I needed to play with something green and alive so I grabbed four Aloes off the bench and potted them in a papercrete trough. I think most gardeners get the itch this time of year. Most are tired of being inside just reading about gardening and having plans that will be fun to get started on as soon as the weather becomes agreeable. We all treasure those days when the weather moderates and we can get out and at least accomplish something in the garden even if it is only potting a plant or two.

My wife took the opportunity to take all her house plants outside and watered them with the hose. I'm sure the plants shivered as the cool water hit but appreciated having half a winter's dust rinsed from their leaves. With the nighttime temperature forecast to be forty plus they had to spend the night outside to drip dry. They certainly looked perky this morning as she carried them back into this low humidity environment.

Monday, January 9, 2012

December Production.......

Here at the nursery the winter months are filled with getting everything cleaned up and ready for Spring. It is during the winter that I have time to produce enough surplus papercrete pieces to keep me supplied while vending at events across the U.S. December is cluttered with so many other things to do like Christmas ;>) to really get into production mode. The good news is that the cold days of January and February are usually reserved for inside work.

I will be working on making some new molds and experimenting with new shapes and textures. Many of the folks that have taken my classes share their ideas and experiments with me and I am always amazed at their ideas and ingenuity.  I have taken others ideas and put my twist on them or have adapted their idea to my process with great success.

One of my students created these simple papercrete sculptures she calls "Bottom of the Bucket Snowmen". Simple yet elegant and easy enough for anyone from 8 to 80 and beyond to create. This lady lives in the Northwestern Illinois area and is available to teach papercrete classes in that area. Contact me here to get more information about her papercrete classes.