Monday, February 11, 2019


In With The Old And Broken.....

You Might not think it necessary, Dear Readers, but I found myself wanting to add a few more stems to the ancient lilac shrubs. It has always been part of the plan to add "suckers" around the base of the shrubs, but those are some of the last pieces that will be added because they will get in the way of working on the main stems. But in this case I am not talking about suckers, but a couple more of the old twisted and broken stems. It just seemed to me as though the very front of the shrub had too large a gap... where there should be a stem... and it would have to lean out over the path which means that it would probably have broken in a harsh icy winter a year or two ago.... and then the broken end would have sprouted new growth... which would fill the empty spaces just perfectly! So I started to twist together a new old stem. You can see the very beginnings above.

And of course, I had to make one for each of the shrubs....
above are the first two just starting...
And I neglected to take pictures of all four together.

And while I was thinking of old broken stems,
 I also decided to add an old "stump" at the very back of the shrub.
 There was an empty corner where perhaps the original shrub
 was planted a little too close to the foundation, 
a little too tucked under the porch eaves... 
and over the decades the shrub grew farther out
 into the garden and the oldest stem eventually
 became light starved and ceased to thrive.

And here the new old stems have been attached
 onto one of the garden "pods".
Because of the angle of the one in front, 
it is really difficult to get a good picture of both of them.

Can you see them better here?

And then I had to replicate all the steps 
I had taken for the original stems.....
It's a good thing I could look them up on this blog!

First a coat of acrylic paint to "seal" the paper wires... 
acting like a primer.

Then adding the textured paint......
 (It was a good thing I still had this in a jar all mixed up!)

Then adding the modeling paste for texture...
And between each step there was time to wait for things to dry.

And adding the first coats of paint.....
(I was so relieved to find my cups of mixed paint had not dried out yet!)

And then adding the little strips of painted sandpaper for the peeling bark....

And wanting to test the new retro-fitted stems
 in place in The Folly Garden.....
You can see the one in front that leans out over the path,
 but the one in back is hidden in this shot.

And while I was Dreaming of these new old stems Dear Readers, 
I imagined them covered in fungus and lichens....

So I made a few squished blobs of sculpey to look like fungus, I hope....
and started to attach them to the old rotting trunk at the back of the Garden...
I have not completed this step of adding fungus and lichen.... there might be more!

You can sort of see it here....

It is tucked in the back and will hardly be visible
 when the suckers are all added... 
and probably not visible at all in the leafy season..... 
But yes, I will know it is there!

And you can see how the new sprouts
 on the old broken stem that leans out in the front
 will fill the front of the garden with new leafy growth 
without obscuring the path.

Here you can see it from a better angle....
( sorry about the glaring light....) 
As I said earlier, there will be more suckers
 to fill in around the bottoms of the stems.
 And while these additions were certainly not necessary... 
 I do think they add a layer of "history" to the shrub!

I think it is Finally beginning to look like I hoped it would!
And lest you fear I have forgotten the blossoms.... Fear Not!

Here is blossom number Forty-three!

And in the box with the rest of them!

Now All I have to do is complete
 all those retro-fitting steps 
on all four of the shrubs...
Well... and a few more tiny details...
Because those Old broken stems 
have a Story to tell!


  1. "I think that I shall never see
    a poem as lovely as ( Betsy's) tree,... "

    I must say that seeing your lilac tree even without its leaves and blossoms, looks WONDERFUL in the garden of The Folly! :D
    The gnarled and twisted armature with its new growth in the gaps, appears incredibly lifelike,Betsy and showcases your meticulous work to perfection!


    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Sometimes these "later additions" change the character of the whole project.... I am hoping my end results will match my expectations! LOL!

  2. Wow Betsy, you take the word realism to a new level. Your lilac tree is going to be the most realistic and beautiful lilac tree in the world. It looks amazing already!

    1. Thank you Alexandra! I am hoping it matches the one in my "mind's eye"! There are still more details to add! :)

  3. el nivel de detalle es increíble!

    1. Thank you Carmen! I am enjoying being precise in a small way! :)

  4. I don't believe there will ever be a more beautiful mini lilac bush.
    Fantastic details.

    1. Thank you Drora! That is high praise! I am hoping each season will capture the feeling of the real lilacs for me! :)

  5. Hello Betsy,
    Great work! The shrubs look so good in their unfinished state that I cannot imagine how amazing the final products shall be. Once again your attention to detail is what makes your work so amazing.
    Big hug

    1. Thank you Giac! I am enjoying making them as real as I can! It is "growing" on me even as I work on them... each little detail becomes a whole process to explore! But I know I would not be happy if I "cut corners" on this project! :)

  6. It was so interesting to see the process of creating the new branches, and you got them matched perfectly! I love the fungi - what a neat touch. Makes me think of fairy doors and secret, magic places that are only seen if you look very carefully. I also really enjoy the photos of the Folly garden and brick walkway - such a happy place to visit!

    1. Thank you Jodi! You and I think alike with those fungus covered stems!!! I am aiming to make that little corner a small world of Fairy-dom.... shhhh don't tell anybody! LOL! :):)

  7. Goodness Betsy, I think you have been looking at my lilac. It does have an old stump at the back. I cannot prune it as it supports the most wonderful new growth and always gets lots of flowers on that section.
    You are so patient Betsy. It is admirable ! Greetings from a snowy Vancouver BC.
    We don’t get much snow here so everything shuts down after a few inches. Schools are closed for a “snow day”.
    Look forward to the completion for a Spring reveal!
    Regards Janine

    1. Hi Janine! I am sure I have been looking at your lilac ... if it is anything like all the lilacs I have known! LOL! I am aiming to capture that layer of old and "venerable" and timeless and enduring... even when cut back a time or two! We shall see when it is done... which is creeping closer every day! I have a lot to do still! Thank you for following along! :):)

  8. Great job adding the branches. It looks so realistic! :D

    1. Thanks Brae! The more I do... the more I see that still needs to be done! LOL! I do love the way the "dead" branches turned out! :):)

  9. Who knew that lilac bushes had such a story to tell! I am looking forward to the time when those old branches are filled with lovely blossoms. As you must be looking forward to the real ones! Hope you were able to stay home today - I gather you're having a snow event.
    Lots of love,

    1. Hi Mom! I think I have always thought that Old plants had stories to tell! It is fun bringing this one to "life" in mini! As you know by now... our storm was a small event with no snow day involved. :):)

  10. Love the realism and it's exciting to see the bush finally in place.

    1. Hi Irene! I love the realism too! It is making me work hard to get there! LOL! You should see how often I have to take the bush(es) out of place to work on them! :):)

  11. Hi Betsy! I can see that you've used well the time in waiting for things are getting dry ;O). What a good result of all your observation: adding new sprouts and you've even thought of adding fungus on the old rotten stem, very original and clever!! I really love the result and allthough we can't see it well, we know it is there ;). Which makes me think of my own work at this very moment: hidden things in miniature, you'll see whenever you visit my blog in the near future, hehehe ;).
    How nice to see that your number 44 is born, as your lilac blossom!!
    By the way, you don't need to apologise for not commenting on my the moment I'm also late, as I'm very busy with having fun (in mini-ing) and also with my duties as grandma. So, I didn't noticed your absence in comments. Nevertheless: thank you for your lovely comments, Betsy and don't worry ;O)!
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Hi Ilona! I am finding it necessary to plan my time around the times needed for glue to dry! LOL! There are so many steps involving glue it tiny bits.... but that is part of the challenge... knowing what else can be done while waiting for glue to dry... little five minute things! LOL! I am glad you are having fun with minis again... that is how it should be! :):)

  12. Why am I not surprised that lilac shrubs made by the best story telller in blogland are telling a story by themselves? *smile* I really wonder if I've ever told you this before (*teehee*) - but you never stop to amaze me with your struggle for realism and your stunning results. Yes, those suckers have a story to tell… and those fungi too. Thankfully they are on the already died parts… our poor lilac tree had them on its stem and this was one of the reasons why it could not survive a thunderstorm. Maybe you remember - I still have a piece of this special fungi which serves as a tiny miniature garden at Gertie's rooftop garden. But back to your shrubs, it was great to see one of them in place getting a good impression how this will look in the end... even with those parts that are hard to spot - but we all know they are there!!! And welcome to No. 43... how I'm looking forward to the post when the lilac family leaves their box to move to the most beautiful spring lilac shrub in miniature.


    1. Thank you Birgit! I am not sure why anyone would have a hard time imagining MY lilac would have a story to tell!!! LOL! But seriously, I do remember the tragedy of your lilac... and I have been witnessing similar dismay with the lilacs closer to home. It makes me need to include all these parts... the "stages" in a lilac's life so to speak. It is "perfect" for a moment... and then there are years when it is broken and starting over with young shoots...! I will honor them all! And soon... (much sooner than I can believe) I will be putting the blossoms on one of the bushes! :):)

  13. This plant is growing very well...

    1. Thank you Fabi! I am having fun making it as real as I can! :)

  14. Hi, Betsy - More than 30 years (!) have passed since I had a yard with a lilac shrub, and I remember that it was a beautiful one in all seasons. But that real one wasn't nearly as real or as beautiful as the one that you're creating - and it didn't have nearly the age or the history or the fascinating story to tell. You're making this lilac shrub come alive even as we watch, and it grows more realistic with every new addition. The old broken stem that sprouts new growth, the lichens, the fungus - this lilac shrub is as magical as the other stories that you tell, and I can't wait to see its beauty change with the seasons.

    1. Hi Marjorie! I am thrilled that you see it as Magical... I have that feeling for it too! I needed the shrub to be able to change with the seasons as my stories need to be able to do. It just means I get to explore the shrub through all the stages... and I do think there is a corner of Magic in this Garden! So stay tuned! Lol! :)

  15. Your tree looks already great. I think it is winter time now and the tree is waiting for spring and flowers to come. It will be beautiful when it blooms!
    Hugs, piikko

    1. Hi Piikko! You are right... this is the Winter shrub! I am also making the Spring one that will have blossoms! Spring is coming closer now... I need to get busy! LOL! :)