How to Plant Dish Gardens

How to Plant Dish Gardens

Dish gardens can be bought ready made from the florist, but they are apt to be cluttered up with too many wishing wells, bridges, foolish plastic figures, pagodas and other gimcracks.

It is certainly possible for anyone with a little bit of artistic skill, and perhaps with none at all, to be able to get more satisfaction from a home-made product, as well as the pleasure that comes from the actual assembling; the joy of actual creation.

Arrangements of this kind are usually ephemeral, their length of life depending largely upon the sort of plants used and their culture. Plants that are taken from the woods and, for example, then kept in a dry room with a high winter temperature cannot be expected to last for ever. It is inevitable also that some plants will grow more quickly than others, so that the scale and balance of the composition is upset. Even so, an arrangement of living plants is much more lasting than an arrangement of cut flowers, and the fact that it does not last for ever does mean that there is an excuse for a change in form.

Dish garden Receptacles, too, can be as varied as the plant arrangements that they contain. Almost any fairly shallow container about 4 inches deep will do for the dish garden and it can be made of pottery, wood, wicker, china or metal providing that whatever is chosen has drainage holes in the bottom to allow surplus water to escape.

If a dish with drainage holes is not readily available, or a particular one is especially wanted for a display, then ample drainage material must be relied on. The dish must then also be given an exceptionally porous soil and careful watering to avoid water loggir1g. Drainage material can consist of broken flower pots, charcoal broken into ยง inch pieces or even smaller, coarse sand, fine gravel and cinders or clinkers of a suitable size. To prevent the soil from immediately sifting into the drainage material, and this is particularly important when using water tight containers, moss, which can be obtained from any woods, will provide a temporary barrier between the soil and the drainage material, although the soil should be inspected at regular intervals to see that the drainage material is not becoming clogged.

The character of the soil does not matter very much for dish garden arrangements and anything that can be moistened to keep the roots from drying will do, because it is known in advance that they will only be transitory plants. For a general selection of plants, a mixture of equal parts of sand, loam and well soaked peat will be very suitable, with the addition of another part of broken charcoal for arrangements that consist of cacti and succulents.

Additions to the display above ground can include such accessories as small rocks of pleasing form and colour, and more especially those which have lichens growing on them.

Pieces of bark, odd shapes of dead wood, or beautiful mosses can also be included in suitable arrangements.

An arrangement of cacti and succulents is very suitable for a dish garden, especially for a hot dry room. There is such a variety of both from which to choose, that it is possible to make a very varied and interesting picture. Specialist nurseries can supply particular plants in a variety of form and colour and shops sell many more popular species. These cacti and succulents are grown mainly for the beauty of their stems, spines and leaves but sometimes they give their owner an extra bonus of flowers, often very brilliantly coloured.

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