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A whole garden in one dish

A whole garden in one dish
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Dish gardens are perfect for people who live in apartments and are constrained by available garden space in their homes even though they love greenery...

Dish gardens are perfect for people who live in apartments and are constrained by available garden space in their homes even though they love greenery and plants. Dish gardens are growing in popularity and look beautiful but take up very little space, maintenance and time.

Use different plants:
Dish gardens typically contain at least three different kinds of plants. Adequate drainage is probably the most important provision to ensure the success of your dish garden. The best method of draining the excess water from the soil is through a drainage hole in the bottom of the planter. The hole should be covered with a piece of broken pottery or a screen patch, to prevent the soil from washing out. This type of planter will require placing a water-tight tray under the garden, to protect the table or other surfaces from water damage. A few strategically placed rocks or stones in the arrangement and coloured sand on the topmost layer make the Dish Garden look more attractive.

Choose like-minded plants:
Unfortunately, because dish gardens typically have limited root space, the plants will tend to outgrow their home rather quickly. For this reason, it is a good idea to choose slow-growing plants to prevent having to replace them too often. Choose “like-minded plants”, which have the same general lighting, soil and water requirements as your other choices.

A forest dish garden:
Recently, I attended a demonstration conducted by Hemanti Petkar and Rekha Bayanker, who have been making various types of dish gardens for over 25 years. They showed us how to create a beautiful dish garden within 20 minutes in an oval ceramic container. The theme was ‘A Forest Dish Garden’ to bring the forest into one’s home. Hemanti decorated the forest in a dish with handmade clay animals, which were made by her and painted with organic colours. Rekha says, “Gardens in dishes can facilitate indoor landscapes, greenery or colours and aesthetically enhance interiors of flats in places, which have no land space for a conventional garden. Garden enthusiasts can start with similar plants in a dish. They can use crotons, flowering plants and plants with similar leaf colours and hybrid hibiscus. Use perennials, annuals, cacti and succulents to good effect.”

Method:
First, the bottom layer of the ceramic tray was covered with broken bricks. Rekha advises the use of special soil for good drainage which is sieved with vermi cultured soil, charcoal, sand and coconut peat to prevent root rotting. She says that these gardens in dishes are especially good for working people as they do not have to be watered daily. “You don’t have to spend much time and these can be watered once a week as coconut peat retains a lot of moisture. Use regular plants, not bonsais.”

Regular dishware can be used to good effect
A dish garden can also be an arrangement of plants placed inside dishware. Unlike plant pots, dishes don't have drainage holes. The main difference between a potted floral arrangement in a gardening pot and a dish garden is that actual dishware is used. The dishware used in dish gardens may be a novelty or everyday items such as cereal bowls, coffee mugs or they even may be ornamental pieces.

Good for gifts or as a centrepiece
A dish garden can be the perfect size as a centrepiece for an outdoor coffee table. Dish gardens can also make ideal housewarming gifts since they can add a natural touch to a new home. While many dish gardeners purchase their own containers or use dishware they have at home, kits are also available that include dishes for the gardens. Dish garden kits usually have flower seeds rather than growing plants, so it is interesting to watch the different plants start to grow and bloom.

A little sunlight is needed
A word of caution: although these plants need very little looking after and can even be perched on a window sill, they do need some amount of sunlight, without which, they cannot live.

By: Beyniaz Edulji

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