Plotting Garden Projects

An almost finished terrarium from Ehmke’s class. Submitted photo.

If you need a little reprieve from the cold and the snow, read this Q&A with Jean Ehmke, and start plotting some garden projects. Ehmke, who works at Jerry’s Flowers in Sister Bay and is a Door County Master Gardener volunteer, recently taught two classes as part of The Clearing’s Winter Program; the classes added some green to white winter days.

AE: Tell me about your Clearing class – “Terrariums, Miniature & Fairy Gardens.”

JE: We talk about terrariums and how to plant them, and about miniature and fairy gardens for both indoors and outdoors. Half of the class is spent talking and the other half of the class is spent planting the terrarium.

The workshop was three hours, and they had a choice of plants (crotons, ficus, ferns, polka dot plant, waffle plant, aluminum plant) and garden-scaping materials (stones, miniature bird baths, fencing, shells, etc). Most of them took three plants on the small side, and planted them. Some embellished with the stones and glass, creating little pathways, and some used the mini birdbaths and birds, and some used moss to cover the soil.

AE: What do you like about creating the miniature gardens/terrariums?

JE: It’s like creating a living dollhouse for me, with miniature plants and objects. I like the creativity and the imagination you can use to create different themes.

AE: How long have you gardened?

JE: For fifty years. When I was on the Southside of Chicago, I had a Moss Rose garden at age six. I had a whole patch that my mom let me plant next to our garage. It was always something I just did…I enjoyed playing in the dirt.

AE: What are you planning to work on this year in your own garden?

JE: I’m working on a miniature pond in one of my miniature gardens. And I’ll be adding a lot more ferns, Japanese forest grass and miniature trees.

AE: How cold is too cold to work outside?

JE: Personally, I’m usually done gardening by the middle of October, everything’s put to bed by then.

AE: Is this year going to be a challenge to get started with the cold weather?

JE: This year is going to be a surprise…waiting for the ground to warm up. Hopefully spring cleanup will start by the beginning of May.