The Bottom Line
I have owned this book since it first came out in 1984. I've used it to help every age of gardener produce wonderful miniature gardens, and I've also used it as a guide to building miniature cottages, or making realistic stonework and fencing for dollhouse and railway garden scenes. It's 128 pages are packed with information and practical advice.It is a British book, a North American reader may find some terms a bit unusual although the author has tried to clarify most of them. Originally issued in 1984, it has good illustrations, but it is not laid out as a pictorial how to.
- Plans for landscapes including how to make cottages, fences and gates
- Clear instructions for how to structure and assemble the landscapes
- Good descriptions of basic plants to use.
- Book is an older format where many photos are separated from the text
- Plant names are correctly given in Latin, common names may not exist
- This is a book written for readers. There is a table of contents, but no index so read it thoroughly.
- Constable is very good at using space and drawing the viewer's eye into the garden. He explains these techniques well.
- These are gardens which need to remain outdoors, although they can come indoors for short periods of time.
- Many illustrations show three gardens stacked behind each other. Several sizes are discussed. The smallest is 15 x 8 inches.
- The instructions in this book work out to a rough scale size of 1:32. Buildings can be scaled differently if required.
- These are not weekend projects. The techniques may need several days. Plants will need to grow to achieve the effects shown.
- If you have trouble finding the plants for these gardens, try a nursery which specializes in alpines, or garden railways.
Guide Review - Landscapes in Miniature - a book by John Constable
John Constable creates amazing living miniature replicas of English landscapes. His work has been featured in British dollhouse magazines as single articles and series on creating living gardens to accompany a dollhouse. This book remains a classic for anyone wanting to create living miniature scenes in small containers.
Samples of his work and cottages can be see at his website Miniature Cottages and in a series of articles produced from June - November 2004 in Dolls House World Magazine.
The book covers all stages of building a miniature garden; from building a base or a box to house it, choosing soils, creating a layout, choosing plants, care and maintenance, and building cottages, fences, and gates.Instructions are clear, and the materials used to build the landscapes are not difficult to find, although readers may need to substitute plants which are suitable for their growing area. The buildings are constructed and finished with materials that allow them to remain outdoors and weather naturally.
These are not just garden accessories for miniature collectors. Constable feels that as we lose our access to the countryside, miniature scenes give us a way to bring back our link with nature.
Away with the cramped plans involving a few square feet of lawn and half-a dozen rose bushes. The heritage of the human imagination is for rolling downs, forests, lakes, rivers, majestic trees, waterfalls, crags and green valleys. This book is about these things. It is about tiny violets, jasmine, willows, ash, birch, brambles and the dark, evergreen conifers. It is about a growing, living land of peace and beauty.
If you are living in the city, yearning for a miniature countryside like the one he describes above, this may be the form of miniature gardening for you.