She found a use for avocado skins

Yes, Brenda Sullivan saves avocado skins! Once you start foraging for natural materials to make miniature gardens, you see possibility in everything, she explains. Hence, this tree swing made of dried avocado skin, red cotton string and - for a soft seat - some moss she retrieved from a low-hanging roof at her Fort Washington home.

Brenda filled this container with potting soil and planted a tiny hosta, a pint-sized arborvitae and other small plants, a bench and table made of bark from the yard. "I think it's adorable," she says.


Brenda uses votive candles to make fire pits, and converts pizza boxes, terra cotta strawberry pots, deep dishes and even (see previous post) clementine crates into "containers" for her gardens, which also include accessories like store-bought small benches, bird houses on a pole, lanterns made of datura seed pods, torches from candles, and chairs from wine corks.

"I started doing these, gathering natural materials from the yard, and suddenly I saw everything in a different perspective," she says, meaning that just about everything in her garden - especially at this time of year, when it's all dried - could have a life as something else in a miniature garden.

I hear this over and over from creative folks designing all manner of floral arrangements and tabletop gardens, and I think it's a great idea for holiday entertaining. Brenda insists these small gardens are easy, and for once - you know everyone says that! - it rings true. And what a fun project to do with kids.

Brenda does it with her teenage daughters - and even the other big kid in the house, her husband. "He finds it very relaxing," she says.

Story next Friday.