Woodland Garden


A 5 litre clear plastic drinks bottle.

A small amount of gravel, moss, leaf mould (or woodland soil) and some bits of charcoal. Charcoal prevents the soil mixture from becoming sour.

Gardening 'tools', consisting of 4 pieces of bamboo cane, about 30 cm long. Use thin wire or a rubber band to attach a teaspoon to the first bamboo, to make a trowel; a cork to the second bamboo to make a tamper; a small blade to the third bamboo for cutting; and cotton wool or a piece of sponge to the fourth bamboo to make a cleaner.

Native woodland plants such as violets, very small ferns or primroses. Avoid taking plants from the wild. Order them from a specialist nursery or get them from an established wild garden.

Mossy sticks or stones for effect.

Using a Plastic or Glass Bottle to make
A Native Woodland Garden
in a bottle

This project is supported by the Department of the Environment Environmental Partnership Fund.
A native woodland garden in a bottle is an ideal introduction to the study of a woodland floor and the processes of evaporation and condensation.
It will also focus observers on plant requirements, such as light and shade.
The flowering cycle of woodland plants, whereby they all bloom in spring before the leaves in the canopy layer block out the light, could also be explained.

Creating the Garden

Insert about 2 cm of gravel first, using the spoon. Mix some charcoal with it, to keep the soil or compost fresh. Put in about the same depth of leaf mould or woodland soil next.
Insert the plants. Use the cork tamper for this. If the sides of the bottle get dirty, wipe them clean with the sponge or cotton wool.Then insert the moss and sticks, to create the effect of a woodland floor.
Finally, add about half a cupful of water. Use the spoon tool for this, to ensure that all parts of the leaf mould or soil receive moisture.

After Care

Do not put the lid on the bottle, as gases tend to build up inside a closed bottle.
Do not allow the leaf mould to dry out.
Place the bottle garden in a shady area of the classroom for observation.
Cut off leaves with the blade as they decay, and remove.

Elsie Proctor: Looking at Nature. A. and C. Black 1969
Anne Swithinbank: House Plants . Gardeners' World - October 1996
Young Gardeners' World Page . Gardeners' World, July 1995

Text:Paddy Madden
Illustrations:Eileen Fleming
Editor:Marian Rollins
Design:Taran Pyper

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