Create a Forest Wonderland
By Maria Price
Since most children are homebound and parents need some projects that both can enjoy, try making a forest Christmas scene that can become an inspiration for fantastical stories. When it’s too blustery to be out in the woods, you can enjoy the serenity of your forest scene through Christmas and beyond.
First find a suitable container. Recycled metal or plastic containers that are unique and antique- or old-looking work well. The containers do not need drainage holes since the main plants will be mosses and lichens that like moist soil. That way you won’t have to water very frequently. Fill it with potting soil and then saturate it with water.
On a pleasant day, take a walk with your children in a wooded, wet area like a flood plain, or shady moist areas in your garden. If you are searching in a forest, make sure to have permission before wandering. You’re going to collect mosses and lichen for your forest garden.
Mosses are velvety green in all hues, vibrant and yet soothing. Collect some in a bag or box, making sure not to over-harvest the moss so that it will grow back. There are brilliant Emerald-green ones, pale yellow-green ones and some that look like miniature pine trees all growing together. Collect small pieces of all the different types you can find.
Next find some prince’s pine (also called princess pine) or lycopodium, a type of club moss closely related to ferns. They grow about 6 inches tall and look like little pine trees. Collect about three or four of them.
Next collect some sticks with lichen. Lichens come in beautiful soft gray-green colors. They are a composite organism made up of algae and fungus living symbiotically together.
Miniature ferns can also go in this garden as well as some interesting rocks in proportion to your container.
Arrange the mosses on top of the wet potting soil, varying the different colors and textures. Put your prince’s pine pieces together so it looks like a miniature Christmas tree. Use floral tape to secure the stems together at the base. Spray a clear tacky glue on your Christmas tree and dust it with a snowy glitter. Purchase miniature glass ornaments or take a bead chain apart and glue them onto the branches of your tree. Place your lichen-covered sticks around your forest. Add your rock and some icy branches.
Find two to three pinecones (depending on the size of your container) and spray paint them with silver paint. Sprinkle on some silver glitter while the paint is wet. Add some red berries from the branches of winterberry, holly or nandina.
Enjoy your serene forest scene and dream up a winter wonderland of your own creation.