A Garden Grows in CorningSep 01, 2021 09:30AM ● By Karey Solomon
While many people might look sadly at a defunct portable radio, or wonder what to serve in an over-large teacup, Jennifer Tiffany sees these and more as intriguing containers for small, whimsical gardens. She specializes in succulents, a species of plants with a lot of variety in color, texture, and leaf size. Paired with interesting ceramic accents, stones, seashells, and almost always with a pixie, fairy, or gnome—or, alternatively, a baby Yoda—Jennifer’s mini-gardens are each their own small world, a desktop retreat with a story to tell.
Pixie Moss Meadows, at 65 East Market Street, Corning, is where the magic happens. Opened this year, it’s a green oasis complete with the gentle sounds of a tall, trickling fountain, rows and rows of happy plants, and baskets of the colorful semi-precious stones she uses to decorate her scenes.
“I can create a garden in just about anything,” Jennifer says. “I’ve even used hollowed out logs.” And shoes, antique orphan drawers, ceramic skulls. She even creates such tiny gardens, nestled in containers like antique canning jars, that she has to use tweezers to carefully maneuver everything into place.
Here in the store are also garden accessories she’s spent time researching and sourcing, like quirky spoon plant picks with sayings like, “I wet my plants,” and “Grow, damn it!” For those who feel uncertain about their gardening skills, there are little wooden stakes to stick in your plants that say things like “A little thirsty over here!” as a reminder to people who forget to water, or “My next victim,” for those who refuse to be reminded.
The shop’s name, and the presence of small, magical creatures ornamenting most gardens is reminiscent of the stories Jennifer’s grandmother told her on childhood walks. “She told me to keep my eyes out for pixies and gnomes,” she says now. She remembered her grandmother when she chose the name for her business.
“I needed a mystical name—I believe the pixies gave it to me!” she says.
Jennifer’s impetus for Pixie Moss Meadows began as a stay-at-home mom wanting a creative outlet. Friends and family who saw her creations asked her to make little gardens for them as well. “I loved succulents because they were the first sort of plant I didn’t kill,” she laughs. She took online classes and spent years sourcing accessories. She propagates her succulents in order to have a good supply, experimenting with ones that trail, some that look like little trees, others looking like green flowers growing directly from the soil. Succulents come in a range of different greens as well as variegated colors. They store water in their leaves and stems, which can make their leaves plump and substantial, as well as more drought-tolerant. Some are cold hardy and live permanently outdoors, others are more at home inside. Several might be already living in your home—think aloe vera, jade, and the long-leafed mother-in-law’s tongue. If they’re not in your home and you want them, Jennifer can probably get them for you.
She also carries a variety of cacti as well as houseplants grown by HPP Houseplants in Rochester. “Everything is in beautiful pottery in her own soil mix so they’re really thriving,” she says. Among other regional vendors are herbal creations by Bespoke Apothecary, handmade soaps by LizAnn Body Delights, intuitively created bracelets by Tiger Lilly, and insect shadowboxes by the Garden Spider. On a larger scale, look for chainsaw-carved mushrooms and gnomes for garden hardscaping.
There’s a display of air plants and a bower of Spanish moss, another frequent ingredient in her gardens. “Did you know moss is supposed to represent good luck and abundance?” she asks. She has tiny moss gardens floating in jars; some of the balls of moss even wear little sun hats to protect them from light, as they prefer dim spaces.
One of the ultimate low-maintenance choices is the aquatic terrarium, a creation she describes as “a little ecosystem with beta fish.” The fish nourish the plants, she explains, and the plants filter the fishbowl, “so you hardly ever have to change the water.”
Among the gardens she creates are ones for encouragement, thank-you gifts, and get-well gardens. “I’m sending lots of love, luck, and healing in every get-well garden I create,” she says. She’s happy to craft custom orders for any holidays or occasion. Among the magical accessories are ceramic mushrooms, fairy doors, fairy houses, and miniature gnomes created by MacKenzie, a clay artist who is also Jennifer’s teenage daughter. She always uses her own soil mix, one she created after a lot of experimentation.
“Dirt is really important,” she says. “I want the gardens to thrive and have a long life.”
One of the nicest surprises in opening her store was the success of her garden bar, a work bench supplied with all the plants, interesting containers, soil, and accessories needed for customers who want to create their own tabletop garden. Like her plants, this concept grew, so she’s added a second garden bar. Private “garden parties” are generally held on Sundays. Participants can bring their own refreshments, and up to fifteen can be accommodated at a time. The shop gets redecorated and accessories augmented for each seasonal holiday. Repeat customers and smiling faces make it worthwhile, she says.
“Everyone has such a different imagination! It’s so cool! I love to see everyone’s creations, it’s wonderful,” she says enthusiastically. “I feel very blessed to be here.”