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Why not do a 'little gardening' at home?

You may find that it's harder than it used to be to get down on all fours to plant bulbs or weed your flower bed. Or maybe getting up is the hard part. Perhaps you have made the decision to move into an apartment or retirement center and assume you can no longer grow things. Not so!

As gardeners age — and don't we all — they frequently express sadness that they must give up gardening. Not so again!

Instead, why not do a "little gardening?"

I've recently learned more about miniature gardening, and would like to share some of its appeal with you. It includes all the elements of a full-sized garden — design, scale, proportion and choosing the right plants for the right use. It just doesn't have all the weeding and bending.

You might want to create a relaxing patio scene complete with garden furniture and plants, or a garden with a walking path, even a rural scene with a tiny chickens and coop. If you played with G.I. Joe dolls as a boy, you might create a scene using a theme along those lines.

Many new materials make this endeavor easier. For example, pebbles of various kinds come fastened to fine netting material, so you can just design and cut that walking path with a pair of scissors. Tiny pots and furniture, from chairs and tables to swings and benches, will enhance your creation, as will doll house-sized containers for water. Even watering cans an inch or two high are out there, too. Or, you can always design and build your own things.

The container you use for your creation will depend on your taste, the theme of the garden you are planning, and whether the scene is placed inside your home or on your deck or patio. To begin, choose a container that is at least 10 inches wide and 8 inches deep. It could be terracotta, wood, ceramic, plastic or hypertufa (a blend of concrete and vermiculite).

This little garden will be planted with real plants, and with good care of well-chosen ones it should last at least a year before they grow enough to be replaced. At that point, you can transplant them in your yard or give them to a friend if you no longer have a yard.

Sedums and other small-leafed plants will feel at home here. Some tiny ferns work well, as do small violas, daisies, young hen-and-chick plants and even herbs such as thyme.

Dwarf groundcovers can be used for a lawn, although you may need to keep it "mowed" with manicure scissors.

To help you get started, I suggest "Gardening in Miniature" by Janit Calvo. At the Blue Door Garden Store in Jacksonville, you will find lots of miniature items. And a visit to Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point will yield many miniature plants.

If you have a computer, Google "miniature garden ideas" to help activate your creative juices. But these suggestions should come with a warning: Miniature gardening can be very addictive!

Coming up: Master Gardener Ron Bombick will teach about "The 10 Principles of Rose Pruning" at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. It's from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1. He will cover rose anatomy, rose care and pruning tools. The class will conclude with outdoor practice, so bring gloves, clippers and loppers, and dress for the weather. The cost is $15. Call 541-776-7371 to register.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at diggit1225@gmail.com.