Design for Small Spaces, at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, features planters lining the walkway that display gardening styles for small spaces. Five planters host unique interior and exterior vignettes that illustrate a variety of small gardening techniques. They require little space and maintenance but add BIG style to any garden. The vignettes were chosen to highlight gardening styles that fit urban settings – traditionally smaller spaces for plants – which can be adapted to accentuate any size area. The exhibit showcases fairy gardens, terrariums, green walls, stumperies, and dish gardens. Smithsonian Gardens’ interior team, education specialist, and collection curators worked closely to design this exhibit which includes pieces from SG’s historic Garden Furnishings Collection.
Mimicking the tiny and whimsical nature of their namesake, fairy gardens are ideal for adding magic to a small space or a portion of a larger garden. Fairy gardens are a form of miniature gardening that use plants and props to create a pocket-sized landscape. They work wonderfully inside and out, and spark the imagination of young and old alike.
A terrarium typically consists of a tightly closed clear container filled with small plants. By modern standards, it can also be an open container. Terrariums provide a micro-environment for many types of plants. Their scale can vary depending on available space and desired amount of maintenance. When creating a terrarium, it is important to choose plants with similar light and water requirements.
Unused vertical space can be transformed into a functional and artistic garden. Also called living walls, green walls may improve indoor air quality and, when placed on exterior walls, help regulate building temperatures and provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects.
Originating in the 19th century, stumperies are garden features made out of wood material, such as tree trunks and limbs, which have been artistically arranged to add an architectural dimension to a space. Stumperies are often planted with ferns or other shade plants and can provide wildlife habitat.
A dish garden is a form of container gardening that incorporates plants in a low, shallow dish or open container. It is best to choose slow-growing plants that have similar moisture, light, and temperature requirements and include three or more different plants in an arrangement. Since these creative mini-landscapes are as much about the container as they are the plants, try selecting a unique or unexpected container such as a mailbox, birdbath, or antique dish.