Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2011
Regional Report

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The Miniature Garden Railway exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park runs through April, 2011.

Garden Railway Exhibit

Rain, rain, more rain, then repeat as necessary. The garden is simply too wet to work in. Two little white-tailed bunny's greeted me the last time I was there. I wonder what precious ornamental plant they had been eating? Hopefully not the hellebores that are just getting ready to bloom.

Maintenance Chores
I had to remove one of the big ceanothus on the hillside. It looks like it succumbed to oak root fungus, although I thought they were immune. The wood was much harder than I anticipated. My little pruning saw made quick work of it.

Rose Pruning Continues
The rose pruning continues, but Mrs. Henry likes me to leave any buds that are coming on so that she can use them in bouquets. It makes for a strange looking pruning job, but one must keep the boss happy.

To inspire myself and to escape the constant rain, I made a trip to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. There is a miniature railway exhibit that will be on display until April. It was delightful! I have always loved the Conservatory. The Victorian architecture lends an air of fantasy which only enhanced the miniature railway experience.

The key to any miniature garden project is to use plants that are in scale with the display, such as kalanchoe, miniature ornamental grasses, tiny begonias, silene, heuchera, mosses, and ferns, as well as young evergreen trees that have been pruned to mimic their larger and older relatives.

The miniature railway display features many San Francisco landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the windmill at Ocean Beach, the Transamerica Pyramid and the Painted Ladies. The fun thing about these miniature structures is that they are made from recycled bits and pieces. For example, the cables for the Golden Gate Bridge are made from red pen caps all strung together. The blades on the wind mill are rulers and the crown on the Transamerica building is made from used CDs. It's all very inventive and fun. Spending time looking closely at the exhibit reveals tiny jewels of creativity!

Wandering through the Conservatory
After marveling at the railway exhibit, I wandered through the Conservatory admiring the many exotic plants that live comfortably within. The rooms are divided as follows; Lowland tropics, also known as the pond room, where the air is lush with humidity and heat; Highland tropics, which is much cooler and home to many familiar orchid species; the container room, where the plants are displayed in pots, some hundreds of years old; and the main entry room, where the famous giant philodendron still happily resides.

If you want to spend a pleasant rainy afternoon being inspired, please visit the Conservatory of Flowers. General admission is $7, seniors and students $5.

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