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A miniature garden that fits in a dish

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Imagine a garden you can carry in two hands. Best of all, a child can make one. Of course, we're talking about a dish garden.

Between summer's end, when the garden is put to bed, and Christmas is a good time to introduce the children of the family or neighborhood to the art of making these small gardens.

A dish garden makes a splendid gift for a large or small house. It takes up little room, demands hardly any care, and if it dries up or the plants outgrow the dish, it is expendable.

The tiny, colorful garden adapts well to an office or any room in the house. It will fit into small spots in the living room, and is especially suitable for remembering that cousin or friend who lives in a mobile home and where only a perfect gem can find space for display.

I am not thinking about dish gardens made with named miniature or dwarf plants bought in a plant shop or nursery. I mean those purely "for fun" gardens made with small "found" plants that many of us have made and loved since childhood.

No one needs to bother about names here; however, in your own area you probably know at least most of the common names -- but if not, it won't matter in the least.

These tiny gardens may not be quite as lasting as the ones made of more serious stuff, and they cannot be counted on to be permanent. Yet each garden can be beautiful and individual. Also, these small wildlings can sometimes surprise us by being quite durable.

The best place to look for the minuscule plants will be in protected spots along the edge of the wod, under fence rows, beside a creek -- even along the perimeter of the yard or garden.

Here you find mossy rocks, tiny twigs of deadwood to use for gnarled trees (very choice for a dish garden), or sometimes you may discover 3-inch evergreen trees (seedlings) around which the composition can be built.

Don't overlook the mosses. They grow in many shapes and ways, can be used for grass, and if you look closely, they even bloom.

One bit of business, almost as important as gathering material for the gardens, is the walk in the winter woods -- the real, and sometimes first, look at small close-to-the-ground growing things.

Big happiness in small people will run in all directions.

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