Miniature Gardening: Get Outside and Play

Our first garden in Seattle in 2002.

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Miniature Gardening: Get Outside and Play

It was when I first moved to Seattle that I found myself looking at my container garden and wanting something to do. The plants were trimmed, watered and fluffed, the pots rearranged, the veggies were fertilized, weeded and growing. There was nothing to do. I wanted to be in my garden doing something creative and playing with plants. It was hot and sunny, but I had the perfect table/umbrella set-up that would suit any tabletop project. I just wanted something to do and to be outside doing it.

Click to enlarge the photos.

Cue: Miniature Gardening

With the sporadic and/or extreme weather across the globe, you might find yourself in the same spot. It’s risky to plant anything in-ground during a heat wave although it is possible (see below.) You can damage the soil by planting when it’s really wet. And, in either circumstance, it’s a bit uncomfortable to be outside too. But you can always put together a container garden or a miniature garden pot and have the satisfaction of a job completed in less than a few hours.

Note that “right plant, right place” still applies to container garden plants too. Choose plants that are at least one to two zones colder than yours. Plants in any kind of pot will be more sensitive to the cold because it doesn’t have the earth to insulate the roots.

The first miniature garden.

Another version of the original miniature garden. The scene is 10 ½” wide. I used lettuce and herb starts to get add texture – needless to say they quickly outgrew the garden. 

The first miniature garden.

The patio made from sand and stone was finicky – so I developed our Mini Patio Mix Kit to create a custom miniature patio that won’t wash away when you water or when it rains.

The first miniature garden.

A baby Monkey Puzzle tree is now 2′ tall and has since been kicked out of the miniature garden. Behind the Hen and Chick is a spinach start.

How to be Stubborn

If you are stubborn like I am, and choose to plant in extreme heat, it is possible. I’ve had success with this method with all kinds of plants: conifers, perennials, some tougher annuals (like zonal geraniums) and tomatoes so far. In general, the tougher the plant, strong stems, thicker leaves, etc., the more tolerant the plant will be in adapting to its new environment.

  1. Make sure the plant’s roots are wet. (You can tell by the weight of the pot. If the pot is light, soak it in a bucket of water until the plant sinks.)
  2. Dig the hole twice the size than you need for the plant’s root ball
  3. Fill the planting hole up with water, let the water drain into the soil.
  4. Repeat step 3.
  5. Pop the pot off the plant, remove all flowers & buds, loosen the roots, plant it.
  6. Make a trough in the soil to corral the water.
  7. Soak the plant and soil again with water, fix the corral if you mess it up.
  8. Shelter the plant with an umbrella.
  9. Give it regular water to maintain the dampness of the soil and do not let it dry out.
  10. Once you see new growth of any kind, you’ll know the roots have recovered and are now ready to give energy to leaf and flower production. (A plant can’t do two things at once.)

Here are more blogs about gardening in the heat and watering tips to help your garden beat the heat.

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The first miniature garden.

The original photo that triggered the idea, a one-sixth scale garden. The fence eventually fell apart. 

The first miniature garden.

That’s red-leaf lettuce beside the golden leaves of the Acorus. I think that was a baby Fir tree in the back.

Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

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Happy Fourth of July in the Miniature Garden

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Here’s a quick and easy diy for a flag-banner for your July 4th Miniature Garden.

Happy Fourth of July in the Miniature Garden

After renovating this pretty miniature garden a couple of weeks ago, I was drawn to it again for a Fourth of July theme. I couldn’t resist the blue pot as the perfect base, and that Jacqueline Hillier Elm to hang my flags on. Happy Fourth Fellow Miniature Gardeners!

Click to enlarge the photos.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Rather than buy new accessories for a special occasion, collect the accessories that you already have that are the appropriate color. Or, you can paint, refreshen or update an worn accessory with the theme color – just keep the color palette simple so you can use the accessory after the holiday and it won’t look like it is a leftover or afterthought.

Find the Jacqueline Hillier Elm here.

Find the doghouse here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

This is a DIY that you could easily make for any theme. The flag was dragged-and-dropped from a Google image search into a Word file, then copied into a column and printed out. This idea can work with just about any theme from “It’s a baby!” to “Welcome Home.” 

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Collect marbles for an added splash of the red, white and blue. Floral wire shaped with a pair of round-nosed pliers are handy to have in your toolbox. The Made-in-the-USA birdhouse suits the theme perfectly.

Find the birdhouse here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

A drainage hole was drilled in the bottom of this wheelbarrow before it was planted. Even though it’s a miniature, it would still fill up with water or rain and rot the roots of the plants, if the water didn’t have anywhere to go. 

Find the wheelbarrow here.

Find the blue chair here.

Find the picnic basket here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Experiment with different leaves to see what works. The miniature Calla Lily leaves mimic water lilies and the Saxifrage looks like mini water lettuce (Pistia) – I’m missing a zing of color though.

Find the green stone sheet here.

Find the Mini Patio Mix here.

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July 4th in the Miniature Garden

See our July 4th selection up in The Miniature Garden Center and click the photo above.

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Happy Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This garden was made for the Lakeside Hideaway project for the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book. It’s two years old now. It was starting to look like my home and native land, Ontario, so I went with it.

Happy Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

Taking some downtime and enjoying my national holiday from the comfort of my Seattle garden. Of course, I can’t leave well-enough alone and had to make a miniature garden for the occasion. I kept it simple this time, with only a handful of items to help deliver the message. Happy Canada Day!

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I wanted it to look like central Ontario so I didn’t have to do much to clean it up. I relied on the bushes and rocks to help deliver the theme. (There is a huge swath of rock the goes right through the country left by the retreating glaciers, called the Canadian Shield.)

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

In the back, left corner is a Fernspray Hinoki Cypress with a small Nana Hinoki is in front of it. To the right of the Nana is a Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood and a Golden Devine Barberry on the right. Platt’s Black Brass Buttons mixes in with the moss in front. 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The “stubbie” beer bottle is from a Bob & Doug MacKenzie toy. Every weekend until Thanksgiving Day in October, the city of Toronto drives north “to the cottage.” It’s a huge exodus that you can actually feel if you live in a dense area like downtown. 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The textures are subtle: an Elf Dwarf Spruce on the far left mingles with a Chabo Yadori Hinoki Cypress. That a Pixie Dwarf Spruce behind them, and another Elf Dwarf Spruce on the right. I found the miniature totem pole at Disney World’s Epcot Park, funnily enough.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

What the garden looked like before I spent 5 minutes cleaning it up. Lol! If you are comparing it to a photo in the book, you’ll notice we had to take out one of the Dwarf Spruces – it was suffering from being too crowded so we pulled it out last year. 

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A Little World Cup Party in the Miniature Garden

Miniature Gardening and the World Cup

Adapting different themes to your miniature garden is a fun challenge.

A Little World Cup Party in the Miniature Garden

Well, it happened. Yesterday, I found myself on the couch, yelling at the TV at 10:45 in the morning. Germany was just playing around with the ball, our team needed to score and the time was tick-tick-ticking away. I jumped up, “Would somebody JUST GET THE BALL!?!?” Wait. What was that that just came out of my mouth? Hey, at least I wasn’t drinking beer for breakfast.

Miniature Gardening and the World Cup

The accessories you use can deliver a mood as well as a story. The cluttered table full of food and drink is typical as every game is at least 90 minutes with one long commercial break in the middle. There’s no time for chores really, just sit back, enjoy the party and root for your favorite team.

The World Cup is hard to miss these days, as the competition heats up and the best teams weave their way through a seemingly endless schedule of matches. I’m beginning to understand why soccer fans are so passionate about ‘football’ – as they say outside North America. To see a player get the ball close to the goal on such a huge field, when they do score, it is a rare feat of agility, speed, strength, perseverance and luck. Maybe they should make the nets a bit bigger, eh? And, to be a player in the World Cup, with the whole world watching… no pressure guys, really, pretend we aren’t there. Lol!

Miniature Gardening and the World Cup

Make sure you have a viable source to listen or watch the game to make it believable. The “bowl of chips” are dried sweet pepper seeds. Click to enlarge this photo.

I was an outside spectator of major league sports for years, always wondering what the fascination was with chasing a ball around and around the field, getting hurt, slammed or tackled. But, getting lured into Seahawk fever earlier this year, and now the World Cup, I’m grasp what professional sports means: it gives you a chance to escape the everyday and have as much fun as you want.

Wait-a-minute. That’s what we do too.

Miniature Gardening and the World Cup

Some of the flags came from a toothpick flag set found at party store. Others were made from images from the internet, printed and glued onto toothpicks.

Miniature Gardening and the World Cup

Photo bombed by my dog. Lol!

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Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

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Tips & Techniques: How to Renovate an Existing Miniature Garden

 

How to Renovate a Miniature Garden

A pretty miniature garden scene. This photo was take about 6 weeks after the project photos were done for our Gardening in Miniature book. The tree is a Jacqueline Hillier Elm, the two globe-shaped shrubs on either side are White Pygmy Dwarf Cypress.

 

Tips & Techniques: How to Renovate an Existing Miniature Garden

Renovating a full-sized garden can be back-breaking work and take weeks to complete. Over the years of gardening in miniature, I’ve discovered it takes an average of 20 minutes to renovate a miniature garden – with no back-ache or sore muscles. In this post, we are revisiting a miniature garden that was made for the Pond in a Pot project in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book. I’ve been letting a few of the miniature gardens grow without doing any maintenance so you can see (a) how fun they can be to grow one and (b) how easy it is to garden in miniature.

Click to enlarge any photo.

How to make a miniature garden pond

Here is a summary of the Pond in a Pot project, from the Timber Press winter catalog, 2013.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

I left it to grow without doing any maintenance on it for the last year so you can see what happens – it’s still a cute garden! Our big puppy tends to rearrange our miniature garden accessories from time to time.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Tools for the task can be found easily.

Renovating a miniature garden is just as much fun as making one. You can easily get lost in your own little world, see what plants are growing wild, and what needs a bit of help. Just like full-sized gardening, you will have plants that don’t survive, or some that didn’t do well. With our changing winters, it’s good to keep an open mind if something didn’t make it through the hard-freezes of the polar vortex, for example. This gives you an opportunity to try a different plant, or choose a plant that is hardier than your zone. It’s easy to swap the the plants out with fresh ones, or fill-in the gap in the garden bed with a new accessory.

The tools you need, you can find around the house or in your garden shed. If you don’t have garden clippers, a sharp pair of scissors will do just fine. Designate a specific soup spoon and dinner fork for your miniature garden. Thrift stores are place to go for these. Pick up a sharp cutting knife while you are there, it will come in handy. Keep an old toothbrush for cleaning up your accessories or scrubbing-down your patio. A soft rag is handy for cleaning out the pond and wiping down the outside of the pot.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Begin by pulling out all the dead plants. The Dwarf Mondo Grass in all our gardens didn’t make it through last winter for some reason. (It’s hardy to 0F and our coldest temperature was 18F) Next winter, I’ll make sure I shear that White Pygmy Cypress (behind my hand,) to prevent it from getting leggy and to keep those wonderful creamy tips. This will help separate it from the Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly on the right.

Links for plants: Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly - Jacqueline Hillier Elm - Dwarf Mondo Grass - Red Thyme

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Trim back all the dead branches and foliage. Miniature roses follow the same rules as full-size roses, deadhead the spent blooms just above a 5-leaf branch.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

At this point in the season, you may have new buds mixed with spent buds. Take a moment to sort them out before deadheading (cutting off the spent blooms.)

Miniature Garden Plants

This miniature ‘Popcorn’ rose is intermingling with this cypress (I’m not remembering the name!!) I’ll let the rose bloom for now, then trim it back, away from the cypress, when the flowers are done.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Churn-up the top layer of soil with your garden fork. Throughout the year, all container gardens develop this crusty layer and redirect the water to the outside of the pot, away from the plant’s roots. By breaking up this layer, the water will go where it is needed. Churn up the soil gently around each plant.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Prune away all dead branches in the trees and shrubs. Prune or pinch-off any new growth along the trunk and lower branches to keep your tree looking like a tree.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Bail out your miniature garden pond.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

If the miniature garden is grown-in, you may be able to lift the pond-pot out gently, clean it up and replace it.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Be careful not to get anything in the pond’s hole. You can barely see the upside-down pot that the pond is resting on at the bottom of the hole.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Replace the accessories. And you are done!

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Or create a new look by adding different accessories.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Little gaps in the ground covers create an opportunity to nestle-in another focal point.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Add a couple of flowers to float in the pond. You can float the tiny flowers on leaves to make them look like water-lilies.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

If your miniature garden is big like this one is, have fun creating tiny vignettes throughout the garden. It lures the viewer in to take a better look. After seeing this picture, I may plant something low in front of the trellis to for more interest.

Garden tools are here - or see all our Tools and Equipment here.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

A miniature garden flower arrangement can add a bit of color quickly and easily. See below for the How-To link.

The Cutest How-To in the Whole Wide World.

Find the Trellis with Wall-Pot, see more trellises here. Find the Adobe Patio Jars, Set of Three here.

July Fourth Miniature Garden

Or collect your favorite accessories to celebrate an occasion for a party or a barbecue.

Miniature barbecues are here and here. Blue wheelbarrow is here. White water can. Cherry red bench.

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Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

Click the picture to get your autographed copy from our online store. Or Amazon[dot]com has it too!

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Happy Father’s Day from the Miniature Garden!

Happy Father's Day from the Miniature Garden!

We were just playing around a little in the miniature garden today, and thinking of all the Dads out there who make a difference. Happy Father’s Day. – From Janit & Steve, TwoGreenThumbs.com

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Miniature Gardening Across the Pond – and Back Again

Miniature Gardening with Woman's World Magazine

So cool! We made into the April 28th edition Woman’s World Magazine on page 6! Right next to Johnny Cash. Lol! Our mission is to make this hobby as well known as knitting – thank you Woman’s World Magazine!

Miniature Gardening Across the Pond – and Back Again

Miniature gardening made it across the pond and back again this spring! As the new hobby grows its way into the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa, we thought to share these articles that you may not have had a chance to see. Click into these pages to enlarge them – then you can click to zoom-in again to read them.

I enjoyed this interview by Doll’s House Magazine in the UK that includes insight into how I got into gardening and into miniatures – two passions of mine that are now bundled into one!

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

This hobby has grown expontentially but not everyone knows what a miniature garden plant is yet, here’s a breakdown of what kind of plants to look for – wherever you are.

We recommend calling your local independent nursery – note that the big-box-stores will not have these wonderful trees as our grower is committed to serving the independent garden centers.

Previous posts about Canadian nurseries that carry the same trees and shrubs that we do are here.

Click to enlarge these articles, then you can zoom in again. I’m not sure how this will work on a hand-held mobile or phone, however.

Like this? Join us and thousands of other Fellow Miniature Gardeners for your FREE monthly Mini Garden Gazette delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up here, confirm through your email and you’ll get a FREE  PDF too!

Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

Click the picture to get your autographed copy from our online store. Or Amazon[dot]com has it too!

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