Detailed Landscaping in 1:48 Scale - The Tea Cup Front Porch Garden

  • 01 of 08

    Landscaping a Quarter Scale Tea Cup Scene in the Tea Cup Saucer

    Quarter scale garden arbor set in a miniature garden scene in a tea cup.
    Printable quarter scale garden arbor set in a landscaped tea cup scene. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Landscapes in tea cups can be built in a number of ways. The instructions on the following papges show how dollhouse quarter scale plants can be used to add color and interest to a simple front porch scene built in a tea cup. You can use the link to the simple front porch scene to build the basic landscape using free printables. Most of the plant instructions can be found in the article on Making Detailed Quarter Scale Plants

    In addition to the regular landscaping demonstrated in this tutorial, you can also make a printable miniature arbor to add to your landscape if you wish.

    This landscape has been built using dry floral arrangement foam as a base. All the garden beds are anchored to the front of the tea cup or free standing, and can easily be removed if you want to use the tea cup for its intended purpose. Simpler landscapes can be built using railway landscaping materials or bottle brush trees. Experiment with the space in a saucer and see what effects you can create with simple materials.

    Share Your Success! Show Us Your Tea Cup Scene and share tips and hints or check to see what others have made!

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Setting Up a Quarter Scale Landscape Base in a Tea Cup Saucer

    Dry florist's foam is used to layout the garden areas for a quarter scale cottage scene in a tea cup
    Dry florist's foam is used to layout the garden areas for a quarter scale cottage scene in a tea cup. The lawn is a circle of railroad grass which sits under the edge of the tea cup house and garden. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    When building the scene for the quarter scale front porch in a tea cup, I created a porch or patio and a set of stone steps using lightweight air dry clay. You can see the instructions for these sections of the scene in the Tea Cup Front Porch instructions.

    To prepare the scene for landscaping, I added dry floral foam across the base of the patio to the stairs (which are glued to the patio) leaving some foam under the tea cup handle for the main tree to be planted into. I finished off the side edge by adding a small garden section to the right side of the stairs. Try to keep your floral foam to larger sections joined together. You will be covering most of the foam with plants, so think about where your want to place your flowers and plants, and what shapes your garden bed will be.

    Echoing Shapes to Make the Scene Larger - As the tea cup has a round opening, and the saucer is also round, I used a circle as the main design for my garden. My lawn is a circle cut from Heki grass sheets for railroad landscaping. It is not glued to the saucer but sits under the edge of the tea cup. You can get a similar effect by using mixed green flock or flock cut from thread on a piece of paper which has been sprayed with glue, or a piece of sticky backed paper. If you are making your own lawn, try to make your lawn on a piece of lightweight card or something that will hold its shape across the inside edges of the saucer.

    Site the Flower Beds - I intentionally set my cup to one side of my saucer to give me a wider space for landscaping on one side (where the tree is located). I want the gardens to curve around the front of the cup, continuing the theme of circles, so I have set beds on a circle across the front face of the cup, using dry florist's foam (see photo). The bits of foam on the sides of the saucer will hold the main trees, as well as brace the cup and hold the handle slightly away from the saucer to keep it from chipping. All the sections of foam are glued to the front of the porch and are not glued to the saucer.

    Finishing the Landscape Foam You won't see it in the photos for these instructions, but where I planted flowering 'plants' in this scene I painted the florist's foam brown with acrylic paint to help it resemble dirt. When the landscape is in place you won't see much of the florist's foam surface, but if you do, it reads as dirt, rather than sand or green colored foam.

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  • 03 of 08

    Make The Framework For a Quarter Scale Topiary Tree

    Quarter scale topiary tree base made of beads and a toothpick.
    Quarter scale topiary tree base made of beads and a toothpick. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Topiary Shapes are a great way to repeat the theme shape of your garden. To make a small topiary tree that sits beside my porch scene, I used two wooden beads glued to a round toothpick. The beads should be 1/8 inch thinner than the diameter you want for your topiary. You could use styrofoam balls or woolen pompoms for this as well.

    Don't limit yourself to beads for topiary for interesting gardens. In full scale I have seen topiary tea pots made of box wood, so for your quarter scale scene you could set a dolls house scale tea pot in a small garden pot and cover the tea pot with green railroad scatter to make a teapot topiary. Dabs of two tones of green acrylic paint will work as well.

    Preparing the Frame For Your Topiary - Once the beads are securely glued to the toothpick, trim off any toothpick that protrudes through the top of the top bead. Paint the parts of the toothpick that you can see dark brown for the tree trunk. Set the topiary frame aside to dry.

    Topiaries can be made with single balls, a ball and a square, a ball with a triangle above it, different sizes of balls or many other shapes. Experiment to see what works for your scene.

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  • 04 of 08

    Finish the Quarter Scale Topiary Tree

    Assembling a 1:48 scale topiary tree from wooden beads, a toothpick and pot scouring pads.
    Assembling a 1:48 scale topiary tree from wooden beads, a toothpick and pot scouring pads. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Cover the Beads - To add the effect of branches and leaves to your topiary tree, cover a bead with glue and tear off small fairly thin sections from a green mesh pot scouring pad. Wrap the thin sections of pot scouring pad over the bead to cover it. See the top bead which is covered with a pad but has not been painted. Make sure when you cover the topiary frame that you leave space between the shapes or they will blur together. Fill any bare spots with thin bits of scouring pad glued to the bead. Set aside to dry.

    When the scouring pad is glued to the bead, trim the scouring pad if necessary to show the shape of the rest of the topiary. Cover all beads or shapes the same way. If you like you can use green railroad scatter (decorative materal for landscaping model railroads), flocking or bits of torn green sponge to create similar effects.

    Paint The Surface - Topiary usually has fine evergreen (boxwood) leaves trimmed to shape. To get the effect of leaves and depth in quarter scale, mix some green paint which is lighter than the green of your scouring pads. If your scouring pads are blue or some other color, just choose a suitable dark green to give the pads a first coating before adding a second lighter green color.

    Dry Brush the Scouring Pads - Use a stiff, dry brush to apply a coat of glossy green over the topiary shapes. Do not completely coat the shape with paint, allow some areas of darker green to show through. If you add too much paint, use a paper towel or rag to take some paint out of the scouring pad fibers. You want the topiary shape to have a blotched painted effect like the ball on the bottom in the photo. Set your topiary aside to dry when you have it painted.

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  • 05 of 08

    Make Wire Frames for Quarter Scale Trees

    Wire is twisted into a trunk and branches for a quarter scale dolls house 'cloud' tree.
    Short lengths of wire are twisted together halfway down their length to make the trunk and branches for a quarter scale (1:48) 'cloud' tree. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    You can make a wide variety of tree frames for bushes and deciduous trees by twisting an uneven number of lengths of fine (#28) wire together to make the frame.

    Make the Tree Trunk - Cut the wires to slightly different lengths and tap them on a table to get the bases of the wires to line up. You will need seven or more uneven wires. Start twisting the wires together as a group approximately 1/3 of the way down from the top of the longest wire. twist the wires evenly to the base, they should hold together in a group.

    Form the Branches - Spread out the untwisted wires at the top of the group and bend them up slightly to form branches. For larger trees, twist two wires together to form branchlets, then group all the branchlet and twist them into a trunk, keeping the two or three wire ends of each branchlet free to bend out into the tree shape.

    Finish the Trunk If you want a smooth tree trunk, wrap strips of tissue paper around the twisted sections of the wire to coat them, holding the ends in place with white pva glue. When you have the trunk wrapped, coat the tree frame with raw umber acrylic paint, or some other suitable bark color. If you like the twisted effect of the wire trunk, add some acrylic medium to the paint and apply a thick coating of paint and medium as a filler along the trunk. This will give the effect of bark and hide some, but not all of the twisted wire.

    Set the tree frame aside to dry after it is painted.

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  • 06 of 08

    Prepare Tree Foliage Clumps From Reindeer Moss

    Reindeer moss clumps are divided into smaller sections for quarter scale dollhouse tree foliage.
    Reindeer moss clumps are divided into rounded sections to use as foliage for a quarter scale 'cloud' tree. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    The easiest way to make small scale deciduous trees is to use clumps of reindeer moss for foliage and small branches.

    Select Suitable Reindeer Moss - The lichen called 'reindeer moss' comes in a number of different colors. Try to choose pieces that are similar shades in order to make small trees. If possible find clumps with lots of round 'lobes' each one of these lobes will make a group of branches on a simple 'cloud' tree.

    Separate the Lobes - keeping the small tuft you cut apart as round as possible. Try to avoid separating the structure under each lobe of moss, it will make the trees easier to make in the next step.

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  • 07 of 08

    Make a Simple 'Cloud' Tree in Quarter Scale

    Quarter scale dollhouse 'cloud' tree made from wire and reindeer moss.
    Quarter scale dollhouse 'cloud' tree made from wire and reindeer moss. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.

    Trim the Tree Frame - To make the 'cloud' tree, where clusters of leaves resembling small clouds are on the end of each bare tree branch, trim your tree frame branches to size and arrange them in the pattern you want for your tree.

    Add Foliage Tufts - Take a prepared tuft of reindeer moss and trim the stems under the fine upper surface to a suitable length for your cloud cluster. Bunch these understems tightly together and apply a bit of glue. Use tweezers to pinch the glue and stems to the end of a wire branch, holding the cluster in place until it will stay on the wire branch. Apply the other cluster the same way, one per branch. If you have long branches you can bend them and apply a second cluster at the bends. Look at samples of cloud pruned trees from Chinese and Japanese gardens and bonsai. Set the tree aside to dry

    Trim the Extra Understems - To neaten the cloud clusters trim the moss where it joins the branch so that it is neatly trimmed and looks like small branch clusters. Don't leave any unsightly ends sticking out at the base of the cloud tuft. If your tufts are too floppy, try trimming the length underneath the top of the rounded tuft. Shorter lengths of moss will hold their shape more easily. You can modify this technique and use larger tufts of reindeer moss across one or two branches to create bushier trees if you wish. I used the cloud shape for the tea cup scene as it is easy to rearrange the branches to suit the position of your teacup and the underplanting.

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  • 08 of 08

    Planting Up Your Tea Cup Landscape

    A 1:48 scale landscaped garden and cottage built in a tea cup.
    A 1:48 scale landscaped garden and cottage built in a tea cup. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to Inc.


    • Planting small scale gardens follows the same rules as planting larger one.
    • Position your plants so they show off or draw your eye with their shape, size or color.
    • Work with different shades of green and different textures to give your eye focal points and resting places.
    • Keep it from being bare - use bits of moss or groups of leaves on a piece of fine wire to cover the front edge of your garden beds.


    Things I deliberately arranged in my little garden:

    • Covered the Saucer Handle - by placing a 'shrub' of reindeer moss in front of it. I intentionally used a different color from the tree for contrast.
    • Spread the Main Colors Around - bits of yellow, pink, and purple in different shades are spread in clusters around the planting and tone with the 'painted' front of the house. I filled the air dry clay pots on my stone steps with a small 'tree' made from a bit of reindeer moss and a pot of 'lavender'.
    • Balance Shapes - I used a rounded topiary on one side of the porch to balance the circle of the lawn. I also added some 'budgie grit' as a curved gravel path to set off the edge of the lawn with another circle.
    • Play with Flower Position - The joy of using air dry clay over florist's foam, or painted florist's foam as 'dirt' is that you can remove and reposition your wire stemmed plants easily. Slight adjustments can make your little garden look very natural.


    Have Fun!

    Share Your Success! Show Us Your Tea Cup Scene and share tips and hints!