Sunday, January 18, 2015

Public Gardens to Visit in 2015

One of my goals in 2015 is to visit more public botanical gardens. Not only are they beautiful to visit, but they are often inspirational and serve as jumping off points for your own garden design. You can see several versions of plant combinations that you may not have even considered in your own garden; if you have a problem area, such as dense shade or an intense hot, dry spot, odds are there is a botanical garden that has tackled that issue for you to learn from.

While this is a very ambitious list for 2015, it's filled with places I hope to visit this year. When choosing public gardens to visit, I have two criteria. One, does it inspire me to take beautiful photos that will enhance my journey as a gardener and two, is it (relatively) nearby? All of the gardens I selected are located in the northeastern or mid-Atlantic portion of the United States, and one in Canada. (These are all within driveable distance from my home in central Connecticut.)

Seven locations are included, three of which I have visited previously and would like to visit again this year.

One of the many orchids featured during a past orchid show at
The New York Botanical Garden.

The Orchid Show at The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY 10458
This is an exhibit that I love to visit because it's a good boost for a dreary winter day. I've attended two in the last 10 years (once when I was the Sunday Editor for The Herald) and I think it's time to head back again. Open from Feb. 28 to April 19, the show is hosted in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with a different theme featured each year to show off thousands of orchids. Admission prices vary. As of press time, tickets for this year's orchid show were not yet on sale.

Winterthur Museum
5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807
I first learned about this garden through a magazine several years ago. I had ripped out a page of the story which showcased beautiful magnolia blossoms and attached a post-it note with the words, "Visit here." It seems this garden, consisting of 1,000 acres, has something for every season. It was the creation of Henry Francis du Pont, who selected plants from around the world and timed the succession of bloom from January to November. Photos from springsummer and fall show how the garden is constantly changing each time you visit. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for kids ages 2-11.

The Garden in the Woods
180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA 01701
This is one garden that I've been wanting to visit in the springtime for many years, but my work schedule always got in the way. With photos featuring paths lined with periwinkle phlox and yellow lady slippers and stone steps lined with lush green woodland plants and light pink azaleas, I wonder how I've managed to stay away for so long. The garden is set among 45 acres in Framingham, Mass., and has two miles of paths that lead through the woods to a pond, a wooded bog, springs and a brook. It is open from mid-April to Oct. 31. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for kids ages 3-17.

A peace lily from one of the greenhouses at the
Montreal Botanical Garden, taken in January 2010 when I visited.

Montreal Botanical Garden
4101, rue Sherbrooke Est, Montreal, Quebec H1X 2B2, Canada
Somehow it's been five years since I last visited this location, and when I did, it was in January and I was only able to explore the greenhouses. This botanical garden offers 22,000 plants spread out among 20 gardens and 10 exhibition greenhouses. The Flowery Brook and Lilacs reaches its peak in June and July with 600 species of iris, 200 species of peonies and 300 species of daylilies. The Rose Garden, created in 1976 to commemorate the Olympic Games, is one of the largest rose gardens in North America. Serenity is the main theme of the Japanese Garden, which features a large pond with koi carp. Admission price includes a ticket to the Insectarium; for adults, $19.25; seniors, $17.75; and for kids 5-17, $9.75.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay, Maine 04537
Only open since 2007, this botanical garden consists of 270 acres of tidal shoreland in Maine. I recently learned about this garden from a lecture and now I want to explore it myself. The Children's Garden in particular has whimsical accents such as a white fence with kitten faces carved out of wood and a sod roof that reflects the home in Little House on the Prairie. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for kids ages 3-17.

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arborteum
101 Ferry Road (Rt. 114), Bristol, Rhode Island 02809
I first learned about this public garden in fall 2014 when I attended a lecture by Kristin Green, who works as an interpretive horticulturalist there.  It is a 33-acre garden that has been updated in the last five years to include more historic gravel paths and 1,000 more trees and shrubs. The Rock and Water Garden, in particular, provides habitat for tadpoles, frogs, fish, dragonflies and more.  If you need more persuasion to include this on your list, visit their Pinterest board. Lovely! Admission is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors and $3 for kids ages 6-17.

A peony from Cricket Hill Garden toward the end of 2014's peony festival.

Cricket Hill Garden
670 Walnut Hill Road, Thomaston, CT 06787
The owners of this company welcome the public to their land in May through mid-June to showcase more than 400 species of peonies. The seven acres of land is set in the northwestern Connecticut woodlands. Last year I visited during the last week of the peony festival, but I plan to visit earlier this year. Admission is free.

As always, check the website to check times any garden is open. Which gardens are you planning to visit in 2015?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Gardener's January Calendar

Keep feeders filled to help birds through the coldest months.
Brr! As I write this, the entire country is being gripped in what everyone is dubbing, "The Big Chill." (It even has a hashtag on twitter, #bigchill.) Which brings me to the first item of the month for January:

My attempt to wrap a hydrangea - on a very windy day.
Help Hydrangeas: Temperatures like those we are experiencing now is what kills hydrangea blossoms on old wood, as Chris Valley explained in a story I wrote last summer. While varieties like Endless Summer can be affected since flowers bloom on both old and new wood, it is mostly the varieties were flowers only bloom on old wood that are affected the most. Last year, I found out several of my hydrangeas fell into this category because they didn't bloom at all after the frigid winter we had. Valley suggested wrapping large hydrangeas by taking a string, tying it to a sturdy branch and walking around the plant to tie it up. Cover with burlap and leave the top open. Do not fill it with leaves. "Otherwise you will make a condo for mice," he said. If you can stand the cold at this point where you are, give it a shot. I headed out earlier this week to try to save two of mine, but after running out of burlap and twine, I'm not sure how much coverage I provided (see photo).

Help Perennials: To prevent frost from heaving plants out of the ground, recycle Christmas trees so the branches protect your plants. Read more here. If you see plants coming out of the ground, push them back in.

Get Ready for Seed Season: 

- If you use grow lights, clean your equipment. I use a diluted bleach solution to wipe down my trays. Make sure the bulbs work. I use the three-tier grow light stand from Gardener's Supply which I purchased in December 2010. It's a big investment (and takes up a good amount of space in my kitchen) but I save lots of money on plants later in the season by growing what I want from seed. The fixture uses T-5 bulbs that provide full spectrum light. They last about five seasons before they start to dim (about 10,000 hours of use). This is my last season I plan to use my bulbs since I use them exclusively for seed-starting. (Older bulbs can be used for houseplants if you feel bad about chucking them.)

- If you reuse plastic seed starting cells (like I do), begin cleaning them now with a diluted bleach solution to kill anything that might compromise your plants for this year.

- Chuck older seeds that have reached their storage limit. I HATE this part. I feel like I've wasted money when I find seeds that I haven't planted. Vegetables all have a different lifetime of seeds (a good source is here to help you decide what to keep). If you try to grow older seeds, they may sprout, but won't grow as strong as newer seeds will. Of course, you can try to, but have a backup ready in case they don't work.

Pansy and daylily seedlings.
- Figure out what your growing calendar looks like. For me, seed starting begins later this month with pansy seeds. This is a good way for me to beat the winter blues and have my own pansies for early spring. Figure out what your estimated last frost date is. (This website will help.) Then count backward from that week. This is your growing season. So when a packet of seeds says to start them inside eight weeks before the last average frost, for example, count back eight weeks from your last frost date.

Help the Birds: Keep feeders filled. I use black oil sunflower seeds in an open platform feeder. I also use a suet feeder that attracts woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and wrens. It's also very important to keep unfrozen water available to birds when other and natural sources of water are frozen. Here's a review on the heated birdbath I use.

Remember - spring is coming. Onward!

I live in Central Connecticut and garden in Zone 6b.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back at 2014 and Resolutions for the 2015 Garden

Pansies grown from seed in 2014,
It seems everyone is already nostalgic on this New Year's Eve. One of the highlights of my year was my garden, where I sought refuge when life became too chaotic. The garden not only was a place for me to focus excess energy, but also a way to socialize with others. I ended up sharing 256 photos of my garden on my personal Facebook account (where my friends graciously humored my collection of photos of flowers). I also had the opportunity to be interviewed for the Back to My Garden podcast, which was awesome! As usual, I made more friends at garden centers and signed up for one of my town's garden clubs (apparently there are three). The front garden became my conversation piece as dog walkers and joggers went by. I shared (literally) the fruits of my labor, where people in the neighborhood were given pears from the trees or tomatoes from the grow beds. 

So many tulips! I hope they return this year.

This blog in itself headed into a new direction. Instead of only focusing on my personal perspectives of gardening, I used my journalism training and prior experience to make this blog a reporting platform for all things gardening. Beginning in February, I began attending local lectures and workshops to write up for Frau Zinnie. I covered a total of 26 gardening events in 2014, a number I hope to double in 2015. I love learning about gardening, and I love sharing what I learn with you. I also added a new page that lists all my reviews in one place. It's a short list right now, but one I plan on expanding in 2015.

One of the several hellebores added to the garden this year.

As for production, the garden produced the following food: 22 pounds of tomatoes, 3 pounds of beans, 1 pound of garlic and 57.5 pounds of pears. Just imagine what the totals would have been if I planted the garlic in a better location or if the squirrel hadn't stolen so many pears! (The totals were also reported to Go Grow It, a twitter handle where gardeners were encouraged to report their food pound totals with the aim of reaching a collective 5,000 pounds.)

The female butterfly I raised thanks to my friend, Diane St. John.

As for the garden itself, it held up pretty well, despite a drier than normal summer. I battled one main garden pest, the groundhog, that I learned to live with as the season went on. New paths were created in the front garden with mulch that took me until autumn frost to move from the driveway to its permanent home. There were lots of toads and butterflies in the garden, and the return of monarchs as well (and thanks to a friend I was able to raise one to release). I finally managed to photograph the hummingbirds on one sunny afternoon as well as the elusive Carolina wren, which proves that the key to attracting wildlife to your garden is by not using chemicals.

The first garden bed I chiseled out of the lawn in 2009.
Overall, the garden put on its best color show to date. It has grown dramatically from the first growing season in 2009, where the property consisted of only lawn. Not even a shrub. Looking back at one of my only photos from 2009 (at right), I can't believe how far it has come. Instead of lush green weeds (don't be fooled, it was never a pretty lawn), there are six trees, a garden path and two arbors, just to name a few changes. And thankfully I realized how tacky red mulch is. (Dyed? Yuck. No thank you anymore!) Some of those plants didn't make it (like the lilies that were decimated by the red lily beetle and the coreopsis that just doesn't like my garden, no matter where I try to plant it). Other plants, like the silver lamb's ear, have become a running theme in the front garden. Now the front garden is larger, and it's my (often out of control) oasis. 

So, as for gardening plans (or resolutions), here's what I hope 2015 will bring:

Alyssum in the fall.
1. Plant more alyssum. I've put post-it notes all over to remind myself to order more seeds to grow in the garden. This plant was a workhorse this year, acting as an understudy for all the dramatic flowers, gracefully subsiding in the heat of the summer and returning with full vengeance in the fall. Alyssum, where have you been all my life?

2. Grow more food. I challenge you to, also. Just imagine if we all used our parcels of land to grow just one food crop. It doesn't have to be a vegetable. Think of all the blueberries, basil or garlic you can grow. Find things that you love and are expensive to purchase at the farm stand or grocery store. 

3. Create a garden for the house rabbits. When the groundhog took out my first attempt this year of a garden for rabbits, I didn't put up a fight. This year, I plan to grow more herbs and vegetables to feed the needy little adorable beasties that live in our home. 

4. Provide better support for the black raspberries. Luckily, Pinterest is a wealth of inspiration.

5. Harvest and dry my own herbs this year for cooking. I have lovely oregano - I shouldn't be wasting it!

"The Fairy" may look dainty, but she has long thorns.
6. Move my rambling version of "The Fairy" rose away from the walkway so the mailman won't be attacked.

7. Find out why my rhododendrons are not blooming (is it that blasted black walnut or the moisture-sapping maple from the neighbor's yard?). If I can't fix it, I think it's time to say goodbye and plant something that will be happy. Life is too short to struggle with plants that are Debbie Downers. (That goes for you too, mountain laurel.)

8. Don't start as many pansies from seed. This will be a hard promise to keep. But I need to keep it in check because they take up too much room when I really need to be starting other plants under my grow lights.

9.  Try something new. Pumpkins? Corn? I think I might have the perfect experimental spot in the backyard to play with.

10. Make better use of interspersing my edible plants with my ornamentals in the front garden.

That's just a jumping off point, but I hope to make Frau Zinnie even better in 2015. Of course, thank you to my husband who copy edits my work and writes snazzier headlines than I can. (It helps being married to a great editor.)

Most importantly, thank you for following my blog this year.  Onward to 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Homeowners, Gardeners Must Be Smarter Than The Average Bear

Black bear - Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service.
GLASTONBURY, Conn. - Berries and grasses just can't compare to junk food like trash, birdseed, corn ... and even small livestock.

That is, if you are a black bear.

"They are like giant raccoons - they will eat whatever the can get," said Scott Reinhardt, seasonal Furbearer Technician for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, who tags, relocates and hazes nuisance bears. He is also a teacher for the Connecticut Audubon Society, where he recently lectured.

Black bears can be lured to homeowners' trash cans by the smell. To discourage this, Reinhardt said to keep trash bags in a container with a tight lid and store it in the garage or shed. Using a few capfuls of ammonia or bleach on top of trash bags can help mask the smell of food. Reinhardt said homeowners could put the trash out the morning of the collection as well.

But, if you store your trash cans inside, make sure it's a sturdy structure.

"We get thousands of calls every year of a bear tore through my shed, a bear went through my screen door, a bear went through my bird feeders or beehives - it happens all the time and it will happen more [as] they get pretty comfortable," Reinhardt said.

"They typically don't want to be around us," he said. But "they will come right up to your house if they are used to people enough."

Connecticut Landscape Suitable for Black Bears
Black bears love wooded and swamp areas, especially filled with mountain laurel. "They make the dens in laurel," he said. They can also use brush piles (such as the 400 pound male bear Reinhardt responded to in Goshen, Conn.) or in a rock cave (which is the least likely of the three, despite all the children's tales).

In the 1980s, black bears began to migrate into Connecticut from New York and Massachusetts. They are typically found in the northwestern section of the state.

"Bears are trying to survive in a much smaller area," said Reinhardt. "We're encroaching on their natural habitats."

Reinhardt is part of the team at the DEEP that ear tags both male and female bears, and collars females. (Their necks are smaller than their heads which makes collaring possible. This isn't possible with male black bears.)

"Tags help with sighting reports and nuisance reports," Reinhardt said. "It builds a resume for problem bears." Purple is the color often used for nuisance bears.

Be a Smart Homeowner
For Connecticut residents, waiting to fill bird feeders until after the first snowfall is a good way to deter black bears from dining in your garden. In areas where bear activity is high, bird feeders should be removed (or remain empty) from March through November to discourage bears from visiting (this is when they are typically the most active).

"Bears are pretty shy by nature - their first instinct is to run - like us," he said. "If it has a way out, it will take it." Typically black bears will climb trees to avoid threats.

While walking outside, keep dogs on a leash to avoid them running off after the bear. Keep rabbits in the home and not in outside hutches where bears will try to eat them.

"If you come out on your front porch and there is a bear going through your garbage, banging pots and pans is not going to help. It's like ringing the dinner bell. It's just ambient noise," said Reinhardt. "The bears really don't recognize it as you are directing it at them. It's like a car horn or traffic - they don't hear it. If you clap your hands and say, 'Hey bear! Get out of here!' - they're gone."

A loud noise, like a boat horn, will also spook bears and cause them to leave, said Reinhardt.

If gardeners are wary of being outdoors where black bears can be present, Reinhardt suggests carrying pepper spray* for "peace of mind."

"Lots of people like to have it when they are gardening - they feel safer having it because if a bear is coming up while they're digging up turnips in the yard and they're not looking ... they feel safer just being able to grab it and spray," he said.

"But if you are going to use pepper spray, you need to practice with it because it's not straight forward and there's lots of room for error," he said. "It sends out a cloud of hot pepper spray, and it can come back to you if you spray it into the wind ... you will mace yourself."

Reinhardt said pepper spray is an initial deterrent but not a solution. "If you spray, you want to get out of there as fast as possible," he said.

Most importantly, do not deliberately feed bears. This will make them less afraid of people and more likely to encourage problem behavior.

"If you give a bear a sandwich, he'll want a glass of milk," joked Reinhardt.

The DEEP encourages state residents to report bear sightings in Connecticut by using the Black Bear Sighting Report Form or by calling 860-424-3333. To view reported sightings in Connecticut by town, click here.

To learn more about black bears, click here.

* Pepper spray is illegal to have in most national parks because it is considered a weapon.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gardener's Gift Guide 2014

Need something special for the gardener in your life? Unless they've left a not-so subtle hint that they want a new piece of garden equipment, the standard choices can be a little monotonous.

I've compiled a list of unique gifts for every gardener on your list - women, men ... even children.

Used with permission from Georgianna Lane.

2015 Flower Photo Calendar  - $11.00/$19.00
If you haven't discovered the magical world of Georgianna Lane photography yet, this is the perfect excuse to visit. These 12 individual calendar pages (available in 4x6 or 5x7 sizes) can be used on a memo board or easel for display. The pages are also suitable for framing.

Used with permission from One Lane Road.

Vegetable Garden Men's/Unisex T-shirt - $26.00
Need something for the male gardener in your life? How about this super soft cotton t-shirt that is screen-printed by hand from One Lane Road. Available in multiple sizes, this t-shirt, along with other garden-inspired designs in the shop, are original illustrations. Holiday delivery is estimated for all orders placed by Dec. 7.

Crystalline Koi - $80.00 each
Another option for the man in your life are the many selections offered from Fish in the Garden. Friendly representatives from this Maine company are always present at the garden shows I attend in late winter. They also bring their schools of fish to accent the display gardens at the shows. The koi look really nice around water features in gardens, too.

Used with permission from The Forest Sleeps.

Bunny Garden Markers - $6.00 each
These garden markers made out of recycled spoons and embellished with rabbits is a whimsical way to keep track of what's growing in your herb garden. The spoons are hand-stamped by shop owner Linda. There is also a Buy 2 Get 1 Free Special on the markers. (If you are into fairies, there's a style for that, too!)

Used with permission from Metal Garden Art.

Celestial Moon Steel Garden Stake - $9.95
This original design is one of the many decorative garden stakes offered at Metal Garden Art. The stake will weather naturally to a rust color but can be coated in clear lacquer to protect it.

Used with permission from Precious Meshes.

Little Bird Nest Earrings - $64.00
These adorable earrings are also perfect for any bird lovers on your holiday shopping list. The nests are handmade with crochet wire that are woven together, just as a bird will gather little bits of nature to make its nest. The bird nest jewelry is also available as necklaces and rings as well. (I purchased one of her necklaces in 2008 and I still receive many compliments every time I wear it.) Emily of Precious Meshes is also offering Frau Zinnie followers a 10 percent discount: use code precious10 to activate. Order by Dec. 10 to guarantee Christmas delivery.

Used with permission from Juicy Crafts.

Cotton Bandana - $11.50
These bandanas are handmade and perfect for keeping hair out of your face when gardening. They are machine washable and come in a variety of different fabrics to choose from. If you buy three or more headbands, use discount code JUICY15off to receive 15 percent off your order. I own several and they come in handy not only when I'm gardening, but when I'm at work, too.

Used with permission from Just Hatched.

Wooden Leaf Puzzle - $42.00
Show a child how great gardening can be by introducing them to nature with this puzzle from Just Hatched. Handmade from birch and sanded smooth by hand, these puzzles are made with nontoxic paint and a natural beeswax polish.

Walk-in Greenhouse - $135.50
If you have a gardener who always wants a jump on the growing season, this greenhouse from Territorial Seed may be just what he or she is looking for. It measures 6 feet 3 inches deep, 4 feet 1 inch wide and 6 feet 3 inches high.

Windowsill Herb Collection, used with permission from Smart Seeds. Click to enlarge.

Assorted Seed Offerings from Smart Seeds - Prices Vary
If you are looking for unusual seeds to grow in 2015, check out Smart Seeds. Using resources on six continents, you will find options not available in commercial catalogs. According to shop owner Mia, the three most popular items purchased in the shop include the Glass Gem Corn, the Rainbow Carrot Mix and the Windowsill Herb Collection. Passionflower seeds and the Butterfly Garden Collection are also popular choices. I'm definitely going to try the non-GMO Blauwschokkers Purple Podded Peas next year!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Five Annuals I Would Grow Again

"Yellow Cosmos" turns white as the flower ages.
I grow a lot of flowers, so when something grabs my attention, I view it as a keeper. Here are my top five flower picks that I will be growing again in 2015.

Seeds of Change - "Yellow Cosmos"
I have to be honest: I complained a lot about this plant throughout the growing season. It took forever to grow, it didn't like partial sun (only full sun), and it looked a little ugly without flowers. But then it bloomed in early fall when everything else was dying back ... and now I want to grow it again. The pale yellow flowers graced multiple stems that were 3 to 4 feet tall, and as the flowers aged, they turned white from the inside out. (It was so cool.) Seeds of Change unfortunately won't be offering them for sale in 2015 but will be in 2016. I saved some of my own seeds so here's hoping they are viable!
"Frances' Choice" marigold is large and in charge.

Seeds of Change - "Frances' Choice" Marigold
Get rid of whatever preconceived notions you have about marigolds being for amateur gardeners only. This marigold is a winner, and coincidentally another selection from Seeds of Change. I fell in love with this flower as it intermingled with my tomatoes this year. It's a tall variety that grows 4 to 5 feet tall (think a small shrub) by mid- to late- summer. It attracts bees and keeps blooming right until frost. I can't imagine my vegetable garden without it now. But maybe next year I won't plant it right on top of the driveway, since it liked to hug my husband when he got out of his truck.

Wild Garden Seeds - "Strawberry Blonde" Calendula
"Strawberry Blonde" calendula blossoms are pretty - and tasty.
Wild Garden Seeds has a huge selection of calendulas to choose from, but this remains one of my favorites. This calendula makes the prettiest flowers that are perfect for bouquets. They can be eaten, too. (My rabbits especially enjoy these as a treat!)

Select Seeds - Nicotiana "Cranberry Isle"
Pansy "Bolero See Me" reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.
It's been a couple of years since I've grown nicotiana in my garden, and it looks like 2015 will be the year they return with vengeance. I've missed this tall flowering tobacco which has beautiful flowers in purple and pink hues. It will self-seed in the garden if you let it. It likes sun and a little room, but it will intermingle with other plants nicely, too. This is one of the prettiest flowering tobaccos sold by Select Seeds, with "Bella" being a close second.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds - Pansy "Bolero See Me"
I love to start pansy seeds in late January and early February (right when you need a kick of spring the most), and Swallowtail Garden Seeds offers a huge (and what I think is the best) selection of pansy and viola seeds. I often go back to this variety due to the dark pink face the flower has. They are also edible flowers that look great as a garnish on a spring birthday cake.

What flowers will you be growing in 2015?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Broken Clay Pot Fairy Garden Has Local Origin

A hammer and broken clay pieces have surprising uses in fairy gardens.

NORTHFORD, Conn. - Back in 2012, social media exploded with an image of a broken pot transformed into a fairy garden.

A quick creation by Natureworks employee Amber Robinson was shared on the Internet by her boss, Nancy DuBrule.
Organic Gardening magazine shared Robinson's photo on Facebook.

"She [DuBrule] had this broken pot and said to do something with it. When we first started doing fairy gardens, we were reusing all these broken things," said Robinson. (An old radio flyer red wagon was also converted into a fairy garden.)

"I made it in 15 minutes. We were getting ready to close. The next morning she took a photo of it and pinned it and it went viral from there," Robinson said.

Because the original image was a snapshot and not watermarked, only dedicated followers of Natureworks knew the source of the creation.

"Diane [St. John, store manager] found it on Facebook," said Robinson. Organic Gardening magazine had shared the image on Dec. 20, 2012, where it reached 11,868 likes, 900 comments and 11,594 shares. What followed was an explosion of copycat broken clay pot gardens, all inspired from Robinson's original.

St. John was surprised by the popularity.

"It was so amazing - it was on several Facebook pages (with no credit) and we would occasionally comment on them and say it was done by Amber, but then gave up, " said St. John. "It was just nice so many people liked it!"

Robinson shows how to make a
fairy garden out of broken clay pot.
"It somehow got linked back to Pinterest," said Robinson, where it snowballed in popularity. "One of my friends from Vermont even posted it and said she would make one, too," without knowing Robinson was the original creator.

Natureworks recently held a workshop to teach customers how to build their own broken clay pot fairy garden, led by Robinson. In the hour-long class, participants received a clay pot, two plants, soil and rocks to create their own creation.

"The hardest part is breaking the pot," said Robinson. After that, the design of the miniature garden comes together.

Ready to make your own? Here are the steps Amber taught her class to make their own clay pot creation.