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Succulent Gnome Garden

Succulent Gnome Garden

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventures, story-tellers, and singers of songs.
— Pam Brown

The following is a gift we put together for the dads on Father's Day.  A huge thank you to our friend, Kim, for finding the idea via Today's Parent magazine.  We personalized the jars and added a few special details to make it our own and they turned out amazing.  To make the process easier, we divided and conquered when it came to acquiring the materials needed.  Splitting the duties between 3 moms made it all the more manageable.  

I must admit there wasn't much kid involvement in this activity, but I think the overall outcome doesn't pretend to be done by kids anyway.  More than anything else, it is about the sentiment and the decorative piece that can be displayed.  Of course, this can be modified for any other holiday or special event and that is why I'm sharing it here.


What You Need:

  1. Jar/Vase - Choose based on how many succulents you want and the desired effect you hope to achieve
  2. Soil
  3. Rocks 
  4. Succulent - You can add as many as will fit in the jar/vase that you choose
  5. Photos of your kids 
  6. Scissors
  7. Red felt or paper - I found sticky felt paper that worked amazing and looked very gnome-hat like  
  8. Popsicle sticks
  9. Hot glue gun/tape
  10. Chalkboard sticker - These are now pretty universally available and I found ours at Wal-Mart but have also seen them at Michaels and the Dollar Store too. 
  11. Chalkboard pens/Chalk - I really prefer chalkboard pens as they create crisper lines and are much easier to write with. 
  12. Ribbon - We used burlap ribbon which added a nice neutral and earthy touch to our jars

How To:

  1. Print pictures of your kids.
    • Print pictures that are the correct size for the jar you are using  
    • Choosing goofy pictures is a wonderful way to showcase your kids' personalities while keeping in theme with the "gnome" garden
  2. Cut out the pictures of your kids.
    • Don't waste time trying to cut right on the edges, just bubble cut around the photos
  3. Glue the pictures onto a popsicle stick. 
    • Leave a little bid of added space of popsicle stick above the top of your pictures so that you can stick your gnome hats onto them easily 
    • If you use a hot glue gun make sure you test your picture paper out first.  Our hot glue changed the colour of the photos so we had to reprint a few.  If this happens for you, just place the glue in places that won't detract from the final product 
  4. Cut out gnome hats to fit the pictures.
    • We used sticky backed red felt and it looked awesome; it added a wonderful textural element and looked very gnome-like
    • You could also use red construction paper or even plain paper coloured red
  5. Glue the gnome hats onto the pictures. 
  6. Set up your work area. 
    • We set our jars onto baking pans so that the dirt and rocks would fall onto the pans but a disposable tablecloth would work just as well 
    • We used serving spoons to scoop the rocks and soil
  7. Have your kids fill your jars with soil and rocks.
    • The rocks are not required but adds some differentiation in the jar
    • If you choose a coloured rock it also adds a pop of colour
    • Alternate between soil and rocks to get a layered effect. 
  8. Plant the succulent(s). 
    • Loosen the roots before adding them to the jar/vase
  9. Insert your popsicle stick pictures into the soil.
  10. Write a cute saying onto the chalkboard labels. 
    • We went with "Life would 'SUCC' without you"  but there are other creative ideas you could choose depending on the occasion and the individual you are gifting to - for example:
    • For a teacher's year end gift - "Life will 'SUCC' without you" 
    • For a family members birthday - "'Gnome' is wherever I'm with you" 
    • For a family member within the same house - "'Gnome' sweet 'gnome'"
    • To family or friends - "We love everything about you... even the 'prickly' parts"
    • To family or friends - "You're 'stuck' with us/me"
    • Universal - "Looking 'sharp'"
    • As an apology - "Sorry for being a 'prick'" (okay maybe not the most kid friendly)
  11. Tie your ribbon around the jars. 
  12. Place the labels on the jar and voila.  A quick, easy gift that is a great keepsake! 

According to our other friend who took a class arranging succulents and making a terrarium, these plants only need about 8 spritzes of water from a spray bottle once per week. 

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