Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sweating the even smaller stuff

Well, the alpine ajuga in the post below was small, but these three accent plants here are even smaller. This is a Chinese stand intended for a 5-item display, standing about 9 in / 23 cm high. The 3 pots it contains are smaller than thimbles. The plants are kept in a cold greenhouse in a seed tray filled with sand, intended to catch water and prevent the plants drying out completely, given the size of the pots. As they are practically sitting in hard water for most of the year, the algae and limescale build-up on these little pots is horrendous, which explains why it took me 45 minutes to clean up 3 little pots with a bit of vinegar and a chopstick.

Here is a bit of detail behind the display. The largest accent is a sempervivum arachnoides, pot is by Ian Baillie. The bronze snail is about 1.25 in /3 cm long. I've had this plant for a year now - another alpine souvenir from EBA 2008.

The accent on the left is moss growing in a thimble pot 0.5 in / 1.5 cm high (pot is Japanese, with a delicate hint of green at the rim), and the one on the right is a Ranunculus ficaria 'Brazen Hussy' in another Ian Baillie pot. Both are at least 2 years old.
Transporting the accents was a problem, given the propensity of the ranunculus to fall over. Having only 2 leaves, it would have been dramatic if one of them were to break. The solution? Cut out some holes in a kitchen sponge, fit in a plastic container, slot accents in the holes and add a drop of water at the bottom. I took a fourth accent just in case, which was a single sempervivum in another Ian Baillie pot; in the end it was this latter that I used for the competition entry.

The ranunculus sulks when it isn't in bright light, so I wouldn't advise a display of this fragility in a darkly lit hall.

Still, one lives and learns. And it just had to be done...

Update: too tired to do anything after the show yesterday, we left the lot in the car, ready to take to the Gregg School for Open Day today. All of these were practically bone dry, but have all recovered after a bit of water. So if you want to give minutiae like these a go, best to choose species that are extremely resilient, or just very pretty weeds. Like ranunculus. But beware the self-seeding, invasive lot (assuming you can keep them alive, of course ;o).

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