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Friday, 28 April 2017

One Quarter Done



The corner with the water basin and the lantern is now done to my satisfaction. I added a bush (foam ball cut in half, painted, coated in railroad coarse "grass"), a hosta plant, some pinkish stuff kind of the same colour as the Japanese maple under the hosta, and a stepping stone and grass. The grayish things to the left of the lantern are plastic plant parts, as some height in a neutral colour was required there.

Next, I have to make more hydrangeas for the bush that will go in the other quarter of this size of the garden. Five flower heads have been made, but I think I'll need at least a dozen to make a good show.
That's for tomorrow, along with many, many leaves....

Stuff Everywhere....

Landscaping takes time. You can only do a small area at a time, fitting components of the landscape in place, deciding if they work that way, drawing around them so you know where the grass grows, and then the inevitable waiting for a thick application of tacky glue to dry so you can brush off the excess of that darn staticky foam that gets everywhere.


One small corner is more or less done, with voids for where other elements of the design will go. I painted up some very good plastic fern fronds I acquired years ago, and sponged and painted them to look like Japanese painted ferns. I have some of these in my garden, right outside the window beyond my work area, and every year I kind of hold my breath in the hope that they've survived yet another Canadian Maritime winter and its snowloads.



It's a mess! Bits of plastic greenery, paper leaves and flowers being prepared, pieces of styrofoam balls here and there, and I haven't photographed the mess on the floor around my work area; boxes and bags of landscaping materials. In the foam block hosta leaves and variegated iris foliage are drying; I have to figure out how I am going to place these in the base. It will likely involve drilling holes in the MDF and bundling leaves into clusters tied with fine gauge beading wire. The little yellow container is full of printed hosta leaves ready to plant around the front corners of the vignette.

And by the way, there is a snowshoe hare sitting on my lawn, just beyond the trees of the empty lot next doors, chewing at leaves or grass or something. It is partly still white, although the more normal brown summer colour is coming through....


It's the white thing on the grass at the edge of the path....

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Green Foam Bits Everywhere....

I started some of the landscaping yesterday, and managed to finish getting the gravel onto the walkway.



I rather like the wider strip to one side; this was taken directly from a pathway nobedan I found on the internet. It mimics so-called label stones with crazy paving, with gravel at the edges and in between.

This next photo, despite the flash, is quite dark;



I'm going to pretend it is evening here! The green domes are the beginning of round mossy ground cover, that will go to the side of the lantern. Because so much of a Japanese garden depends on playing off shades of foliage with accents of colour, I am using some plastic plant pieces to mimic various ground covers. It's a good opportunity to use up some of that stuff I've been giving house room to for twenty years.

The grass has been "planted" around the bamboo, and next to the shoe-removing stone by the step to the veranda. It's a very messy job, as everything is very staticky - hence the title of this post. In order to create various shades of green, I'll mix the various colours of railroad foliage I have for the different foliage mounds. Now that most of the snow is gone, I hope to find a good twig - or perhaps I'll have to create one - to act as the trunk for a cloud-pruned pine or juniper, very Japanese and a good foil for the maple, the many hostas, blue hydrangeas, and possibly rhododendrons and Japanese irises. I also need to make a variety of sword-shaped leaves in a wide range of colours.

Which means that I won't be tidying away all the foam for a while yet!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

I Am Not a Happy Camper....

The walkway's stones are in, I forgot to chalk them so that will have to be done after the fact, and I will also have to figure out how to fix the chalk because I don't think I can spray the vignette without a great deal of masking.

Why am I not a happy camper? Things were going so well. But, I have mislaid, lost, misfiled, call it what you will, the coarse white gravel I used under the veranda of the house. I need that to fill in the gaps in the stones of the walkway.


As I really, really want this finished, I decided to try the dark gray fine beach gravel/coarse sand, but it is too dark for the gravel of the veranda. So that won't work.



So I borrowed some white gravel from a little zen garden I got years ago, but it is too white. That won't work either. I need the slightly grayish/yellowish gravel I used before. There are two more bags of sand from that batch, each finer in consistency and they are simply too fine, too much like, well, sand, to simulate gravel here.

Bah! Tomorrow I work, and then I am away for a few days. The show for which I want this finished is in about 2 weeks....


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

...And Another Photo



OK, so I'm trying to encourage myself! This is the water basin in my hand....

Front Garden Tsukubai or Water Basin

I had intended to put the Japanese word in italics, but I guess you can't do that with titles.  As indicated Sunday,  today I worked on the water basin, which will go near the front door into the house behind the Japanese entrance garden.



It looks a bit unfinished right here, as the paper band holding the "bamboo" edging is visible; this will disappear once I add the "mossy lawn" to the setting (I hope!). The setting is illustrated in my book, as a Flat Garden, Intermediary Style; I am trying to stay true to Japanese garden design.

The stone basin is a repainted terra cotta planter that I picked up years ago on a yard sale table at a show. It is mounted on two layers of mat board, surrounded by "wet" stones, and has the bamboo pipe and spout behind it. There will likely be some ferns planted at the back of this element of the garden.

 Although it isn't visible here, the back of the water feature has moss growing between the stones; I think this may be seen if you look over the longer side fence into the garden. The dipper is made from manila card and a toothpick, with some faux finishing. The water inside the bowl is a piece of acetate that doesn't quite fit flush, which means it shivers realistically if the base is touched. That is what is called serendipity, I think!

The lantern also got a new paint job; now I have to wait for a sunny day to go outside and spray it to keep the chalk in place. It will also be set into the mossy lawn. After several really nice sunny days the last three have been gray, wet and miserable; we had a little snow overnight....

This morning I had an existential crisis at 3 a.m., probably as a result of attending a funeral Monday for a lady who was at least a dozen years younger than I am. It took the form of wondering if I should continue on with miniatures and other hobbies, or just finish what I have not finished yet and stop cluttering the house with my creations. I hate the thought of these miniatures being put out with the trash when I am no more; I don't know what to do with them when my time eventually comes - who is going to want this stuff? Not to mention the containers of components cluttering up the storage area in the basement. I think I will have to start giving stuff away....


Sunday, 16 April 2017

That Took Some Time For Sure...

...especially with a cracked thumb on the right and a broken thumb nail on the left! Somehow, the ties I was using had an annoying tendency to either get caught up in the broken nail or on the adhesive bandage, which kept rolling up on me.


Do click on this one for a close-up view, it's actually quite convincing. This is the "moss" being applied to the cracks in the rock wall; I have a pet peeve with huge quantities of moss being applied to miniatures, as it completely wrecks the illusion. This is being done tiny bit by tiny bit, keeping in mind how the rain water and shadows of the rocks would affect how the moss grows.



I mix my "moss" up out of three or more shades of model railroad foam scatter, with tiny amounts of yellow and sometimes orange added to suggest flowering weeds in the moss; this is the  finished, mossed wall in progress in the previous photo.




This is what almost drove me around the bend; trying to tie each individual bamboo stake (reclaimed from a window blind sample) to the horizontals between the "cedar" (actually painted dowel) fence posts. This fence is a somewhat spread-out version of real Japanese fencing; it is wider apart because I wanted the garden to be fully visible, as that is the focal point of the vignette. Traditional Japanese fences tend to make what is inside of them invisible.

Now that the fences are done, although still not attached, I can concentrate on the actual landscaping of the front garden. I am thinking of trying to make shallow domes of air-dry modelling compound, to mimic the mounds of moss so often seen in Japanese gardens. Painted green, with the "moss" scatter glued on, they will add some shape to what would otherwise be a flat garden. Within groups of these mounds, I can place the water basin, lantern, and whatever else will fit in the garden.

I still have to re-tie the woven bamboo fence; for some reason, I can't wrap my head around how to get a decent cross-tie effect on this fencing. Back to the books for research!

Happy Easter, everyone. Although the last few days have been wonderfully warm, with blue skies and sunshine, today is overcast, grey and rainy....