Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Landscaping Progress, Tips and Resources



Although I still have a lot to go, I wanted to share some of the progress I am making on Alki Point with the landscaping. Don't consider this a tutorial - I am really just making stuff up as I go along. Consider it more an idea sparker (I hope) to those of you who, like me, find ideas and inspiration fleeting a lot of times.

I started working first on the planters, by painting them a cement kind of color by Americana called Driftwood. Why fight the 3D texture when you can just make it work for you, right? Concrete containers fit the bill in a modern setting, so this was a good stroke of luck! I then filled them about 3/4 of the way full with hot glue. This makes them more stable, less top heavy, and is a cost effective medium to use.

Now I needed to fill them with "plants". I bet a lot of you are like me - you like to hoard hang on to things you know that you will definitely use in your mini projects in the future. I have rescued many a silk or plastic flower arrangement from Goodwill, relatives, garage sales or when I find a good dollar store prospect. I have a drawer full of this stuff, and I always manage to put it to good use. Does it really naturally occur in nature? Some of it does, but I give my projects a lot of leeway in the imagination department.



For the larger planters, I just used a combination of the stuff in the photo. I could not begin to tell you what the plant species are (maybe the lichen) except to say that the purple and green one looks to me sort of like lavender. The green leafy one is just a good size, and I picked all of the foamy bits off the reddish one because it looked like a good ground cover. I Googled some planter photos so I'd have some idea about arranging them, and then I just winged it from there. I used a bit more hot glue to secure the main plant into the container. Once that was cooled off and set, I just added a layer of Tacky glue and filled it with lichen or moss. Once that was secure, I just added filler stuff until I liked the look. If it can employ gravity and stay in place while the glue dries, I used Tacky. If it wanted to get away from its place, I used a dab of hot glue on the end of the stalk and just hung on while it dried.







One of the goals I have for this year is to learn to make paper flowers and plants. I have several kits, paper and punches to learn on. I will attempt at that point to make actual species, but for now, these are just fabulous!

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In the medium sized container, I wanted a topiary. I have made these lots of times. They are really easy, and always turn out great! All you need is the container, of course, a twig that will accommodate the number of "bushes" you want, the bushes themselves and glue.



The bushes I used for this topiary are made by MBS. They feel foamy, although you can squish them and they pop right back into shape. Miniatures.com calls them "squeeze me" bushes. They are great to use, and look very realistic. If you don't have them on hand, you can always use foam balls (found in craft stores, usually in the floral department), or carve your own shapes with leftover Styrofoam packaging (use your imagination with all of the shapes they come in now). Then you can cover them with glue (hold it on a toothpick for this part - it's messy!) and sprinkle with any landscaping ground cover or clump foliage. There are YouTube videos on how to make your own ground cover, too!



I make a hole in the center of the bushes using a skewer. It is usually a little smaller around than the twig I am using, and that is a good thing. If you make a hole that is larger than the twig, the bush will want to fall right off. No one wants the bush too big for the twig! (Forgive me, I just couldn't resist!) Now take the twig and push it up through the top bush, but only about half way. Pull it back off, then apply a little tacky glue to the end of the twig. Put the top bush on and let it dry a bit. The second and any additional bushes can now be added from the bottom. Just push them on the twig just short of where you want them, apply a little tacky glue, and cover the glue with your bush. Play with the spacing, and Google "topiary" for ideas. I use hot glue to secure my twig into the container, leaving room in the top for moss or other ground cover.

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Speaking of ground cover, I needed to make little mounds of them for the planters in front of the deck. An economical way to do this is just like I told you above for the topiary bushes - carve or use Styrofoam. I used 1" foam balls, cut in half, stuck onto a toothpick, then painted them dark green.



To these, I add a layer of tacky glue, then dip them in Garden Growies, also sold by Miniatures.com. I got this bag back in 2012 when working on Encounters Gift's & Grub, and I still have some left! It's a good buy and great to have on hand! P.S. The 20% coupon is good through 2/16/16!



I'll leave them to dry overnight, then glue them on wherever I need a happy little mound of color!



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For the last bit of landscaping I did during this phase I used a new product for the first time - Woodland Scenics Small Trees Kit. These are made for model train dioramas, but are the perfect size for miniature bushes. The kit includes 5 tree armatures in varying sizes and a green webby material that you are supposed to stretch over the armature.



The armatures are made of a gray/brown colored plastic and are bendable in every way. I just bent and twisted until it seemed like a nice, full bush shape.



I didn't really like the stretchy green webbing stuff that came in the kit. It might look wonderful in 1:48 scale, but was not detailed enough for 1:12. Instead, I used Woodland Scenics Clump Foliage. It had bigger bush like clumps that were easy to glue onto the armature with Quick Grab Tacky. I've used it in the past and I like the way it looks.


They recommend that after the glue is dry that you spray on a product called Scenic Cement to set the bushes and harden them. The idea is to put it into a sprayer and mist it over the foliage. I used it, but can't say that I am awfully impressed. It really soaked the entire bush and took a long time to dry. It didn't really feel "set" when dry, either. I think maybe next time I'll just try some pump hair spray, or the make your own version from this YouTube Video. There are lots of railroad diorama how to videos on YouTube, so with a little time investment, you can really learn a lot.



All is well that ends well, and I like the finished result. Once I get the rest of the ground cover and plants added, it will look like the gardener comes by fairly often!



conc

20 comments:

  1. Thank you VERY much! They are all so nice! I especially like the last one. It looks like a bonsai.

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    1. Thank you, grandmommy! I was looking for the word to describe them, and bonsai is perfect! Why do my mini bushes look tended to and my RL ones look... "wild"?

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  2. I have a pair of urns I just painted and you gave me lots of food for thought.....might tackle some topiary projects now!

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    1. Yeah! I can't wait to see what you do, Kat!

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  3. Definetly sparked some inspiration for me. Thank You!

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  4. Hi Jodi! I think that your planters turned out to be 'FABULOUS' Too! :D I think that using a mix of different mediums to fill your concrete containers and make your trees and mounds etc. has been put to Great Effect. And you have done a terrific job of mixing the different heights, colors and textures which for me, is what makes RL gardening such a Pleasurable and gratifying pastime. You have scaled your mini-plantings down to scale and it All looks GREAT!:D

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    1. If you were my Life Coach, I'd have the biggest ego on the planet! Thank you so much, E, for all of the thoughtful and kind things you say! Gardening time is coming up soon, and I hope you share some photos of your RL gardens! I bet they are amazingly creative!

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  5. Hello Jodi,
    Fantastic work. The planters are so well done and the plants are wonderful. You have a great variation of size, height and shape...it looks so realistic. Well done!
    Big hug
    Giac

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    1. Thanks Giac! I bet you'll be creating stunning planters for your project! I can't wait to see them!

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  6. I wondered what you were up to with these plastic containers ;-)
    What a great result!! The look super..

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    1. Thanks, Marion! So did I! Ha ha! I'm glad they turned out well enough to use!

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  7. It looks great! I love how you used different heights and colors.

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    1. Thanks, Cyd! Groups of things are always more interesting, right!

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  8. These look fantastic. The planters are absolutely perfect for this project, so stylish and chic.

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    1. Thanks, Janice! I'm so excited to see what you've done next on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

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  9. These plants and containers are wonderful! I like them on the deck, they make the spacing of the deck planks look so real. Small touches like this move mini scences into the realm of "must be the RL inspiration photo". The bonsai tree and rocks are terrific! Thank you for the tutorial!

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  10. The nursery has been in the business for about 8 years now. Contact NSW Synthetic Grass

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  11. This process will be so helpful for the roof deck on my mini house under construction at this time. Also for potted house plants. Your plants look WONDERFUL!

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    1. I'm so glad to help! Good luck with your roof deck! It sounds fabulous!

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