Miniature Gardening News From Around the World

Flower Show Miniature Settings Photo

Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is caught taking photos of Dr. K’s miniature garden exhibit at the Singapore Garden Festival. Yay!! Photo from Louise Krasniewicz of the Flower Show Miniature Settings blog.

Miniature Gardening News From Around the World

Geez, I take a week-off from blogging and miniature gardening goes on a world tour. Lol! Just in case you missed what’s been happening in the ever-growing world of The Little Hobby That Could, it’s making some serious headway throughout the world. Here is your update!

But First, Clarification for the Masses

But first, let us define our terms. Two things that stand out as I read the comments coming in from the general public, is that (1) miniature gardening is bonsai and (2) it is nothing new.

While bonsai is a form of gardening in miniature, this new way to garden is about just that – a garden. Bonsai means “tray-plant” (bon = tray, sai = plant) and its focus is on growing miniature versions of trees in shallow, tray-like pots. Bonsai really is an art form that requires diligence, patience and constant maintenance.

Miniature gardeners design with living plants and trees that mimic full-size plants, grow slowly and are planted as a garden in regular containers, or right in the ground. We adhere to the main garden rule, “right plant, right place” to minimize the maintenance so the garden is able to grow and weave together naturally. Most mini gardens are able to stay together for years before needing any repotting and the root-pruning is minimal, if it is needed at all.

Old fashioned miniature garden style

I used to make these a lot when I did the farmer, garden and craft markets. I called them “Old Fashioned Miniature Gardens” – it was the kind of garden your Grandma used to make. Nowadays it would be called a Fairy Garden. The blooming plant is an Armeria, or Pink Sea Thrift that is pulled apart into small starts. Photo Janit Calvo

And no, miniature gardening in not new – it’s just new to the marketplace and to most people, plus it needed some serious updating which is why I picked up the torch and ran with it. The one thing I discovered while selling my miniature gardens for years at farmers markets and trade shows, is that people have been miniature gardening and fairy gardening for decades. It was such a personal hobby, and there was no where to share it until social media linked everyone together, so it went unnoticed until recently.

From The Gardens by the Bay website.

I’ve been captivate by these since seeing them on Instagram last year. The Singapore Garden Festival was held at the Gardens by the Bay where you’ll find these wonderful sculptures called the Supertree Grove. It must be amazing to see! Click the photo to visit the site. Photo from

Singapore Garden Festival Finds Miniature Gardening Fits the Bill

A delegation of miniature gardeners from the Philadelphia Flower Show’s Miniature Settings were invited to the Singapore Garden Festival to show, tell and teach about miniature gardening. Vice chair of the exhibit in PA, Louise Krasniewicz, was accompanied by Deb Mackie and Nancy Grube, all three are award-caliber miniaturists. Dr. K. (aka Louise) chronicled their journey on her Miniature Flower Show Settings Blog. It starts here and you’ll find links to the other exhibit and workshop posts further down on the page.

The Huffington Post Tries a Little Gardening

The Huffington Post did a little miniature gardening last week and posted a series of different gardens found on the popular Hometalk website. The headline boasted fairy gardens but, alas, there was nary a fairy in sight in the photos they choose – temporary arrangements, terrariums and my twee garden ideas were included. Please feel free to like, repost, comment and share. Thank you, Huffington Post!

The Daily Mail Online Gets On Trend

The Daily Mail is a popular website from the UK. They highlighted a series of my photographs this week for all to see! The only thing – I wish they spelled my name right. Lol! See the gallery here. Please feel free to like, repost, comment and share. Thank you, Daily Mail!

And Houston? We Have a Contact in India!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll recognize these gardens as the winners of the international segment of our Great Annual Miniature Garden Contest last year. (The winners start here.) They are now up and running with their own website, (its a work-in-progress so check back!) and you can keep in touch with them on Facebook here.  

Who knew such a little garden could have so much impact?

Visit our online store for all the right plants, parts and pieces here.

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Tried, Trusted and True: Miniature Garden Accessories, Part 1

Miniature Garden Accessories, The Thinker

We’ve given a lot of thought behind what we offer through our online store.

Trusted, Tried and True: Miniature Garden Accessories, Part 1

I’m a tree-hugger. With just about everything I do, see, hear or read, I try to think about the environment and impact our decisions make upon the earth. Yea, sometimes that makes me the rain on the parade but if “it” is permanent landfill after it is done with, someone needs to speak up. (Not sold on global warming? Meet National Geographic.)

When I started to develop this idea, I could foresee what would happen to all the little furniture and accessories left out in the miniature garden and didn’t want my beloved hobby to generate garbage. Throughout this journey, I tried to choose the miniature garden accessories that work well in the outside and that would last in the elements and/or can be renewed with ease. Shopping for accessories quickly became an easy two-step decision: Would we see this in our full-sized gardens? Will it weather well?

In this day and age, it should be a no-brainer to make things that last. Even our resin pond designs that we had manufactured for us a couple of years ago didn’t work too well in the elements. They were beautiful when they came out of the box, but the colors quickly faded and/or changed color when left out in the sun. They became something I wasn’t proud to offer.

This is the beginning of a series that I’ve been thinking a lot about now that I have accessories that are over 14 years old. In my book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, I step through a number of different kinds of materials that age and weather well, but we’re going further and deeper to give you the knowledge and skills to keep most accessories in your garden and out of your garbage.

Funny thing, it was our new puppy that brought everything to the forefront – literally. Lol! She eventually found all the miniatures that were in our gardens and brought them to us one at a time. Some of them I hadn’t seen for a long time, others, she gave her chomp of approval to before handing it over. So, here are the first accessories, some that we have been carrying since we began, that are tested, tried, true, renewable – and that we are confident they will hold up for years in your miniature garden too.

Faux-concrete figures age extremely well in the elements

Faux-concrete figures age extremely well in the elements. We been staking them to stay in place since day one – which has become an industry standard, thankfully.

Miniature Garden Statuary

The miniature garden statuary department is one of my favorite sections of our online store. All of our tiny figures are staked on a rod to stay in place in the soil so you won’t lose them – this has become the industry standard, thankfully. Our faux-stone figures can be added to just about any miniature garden and cinch the scale for the viewer for that “ah-ha!” moment because the figures are perfectly detailed and are true replicas in miniature, instead of a cartoon-type versions that don’t look real. More on renewing resin figures to come.

Miniature cedar trellises are perfect for the miniature garden.

Miniature cedar trellises age like cedar does: gracefully. The reddish tones turn to silver – still perfect for cinching the realism.

Miniature Cedar Accessories

We were thrilled to find someone in the USA to make these authentic miniature cedar trellises and decks. They age perfectly like all cedar does. The stakes help to keep the trellis out of the damp soil so it don’t rot. The bottoms of the cedar deck act the same, and remain free of rot for years despite being “on the ground.” Copy-cat versions on the marketplace today are resin and don’t hit the realistic mark at all, and are even worse after the color fades within one season. If you want your miniature garden to look authentic, buy accessories made of authentic materials.

Custom painted miniature garden accessories.

Painted metal miniature accessories can always be painted again. Make sure what you buy can be renewed easily to avoid disappointment – and garbage.

Painted White Metal Accessories

The beauty of the painted metal furniture and arbors is that when it does start to rust – as most types of metal will do when left outside – it looks even more authentic because it tends to rust in the same spots as in “real-life.” A thorough spray of paint can also work wonders making the metal wicker look like new again. It’s a good opportunity to keep your miniature garden scene updated with the current color trends. We’ll cover the best techniques in this series too.

Stay tuned for the how-tos by following this blog or join us for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette monthly newsletter here.

Find all our miniature garden accessories, plants and patio materials up on our online store here.

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Get Ready Now for the Great Annual Miniature Garden Contest!

Miniature Garden Contest Winner

Glenna’s miniature garden from the 2012 contest captivated our imagination with the different garden levels and the wee pond.

Get Ready Now for the Great Annual Miniature Garden Contest!

We’re moving the contest!!

Come one, come all and prepare for the great annual miniature garden contest! We are rearranging things this year and we’re moving the contest to next February. Holding the contest during the busy Holidays was just too confusing and chaotic for everyone involved, so we’re moving it to one of the other winter months when there is less happening. February, the month of love, sounded much more appropriate!

TAKE YOUR PHOTOS NOW AND START TO COLLECT THEM WHILE YOUR GARDEN IS LOOKING GOOD. See here for some pointers on photographing your miniature garden. Lights! Camera! Action! Photographing Your Miniature Garden.

Personally, I’m waiting until the fall to photograph my new miniature garden, not only has our zucchini infiltrated the fairy bed, but we left the volunteer sunflowers to grow haphazardly throughout the bed too. Ugh. What was I thinkin’??

Miniature Garden Contest Winner

Lori captured the Best in Show last year with her in-scale trees and plants.

Criteria to Enter:

- As we get closer to the date, we’ll finalize the prize packages and our special discount just for entering.

- All North American submissions must have a minimum of three items or plants from, our only sponsor for the contest.

- International Fellow Miniature Gardeners are welcome!

- The contest is held via Facebook, you can join us here.

- You must be a Fellow Miniature Gardener on our email list, sign up using the form here.

- It must be a living garden, no artificial plants are allowed.

- You can submit as many photos as you like, but you can only win once.

- We must have a minimum of 25 entries, from at least 5 different miniature gardeners.

NEW! Only Four Categories to Keep it Simple:

- First Place/Best of Show

- Second Place

- Third Place

- Best International

Miniature Garden Contest Winner

Dori romanced us with this sweet miniature garden scene. She even shrunk a “Gardening in Miniature” book down for the table. It’s hard to be objective when our Fellow MGs are so clever and crafty! Lol!


If you are in the business of miniature gardening we would love to have you join us to help judge the gardens. You see, after many years of serving our Fellow MGs, so many of them have become friends and we are not able to be objective any more. We have a point system and a list of criteria to make it simple and straight-forward – in fact, it’s quite fun to do!

Let us know if you would like to be one of the judges and we’ll introduce you to our fan base, highlight your business on this blog, on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and create other fun ways we think of to celebrate your help in the meantime. Please note that you won’t be able to enter a photo for the contest if you are a judge.

Now, don’t just sit there! See how your miniature garden is growing! ;o)

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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A Favorite Miniature Garden Tree: The Tansu Japanese Cedar

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This Tansu Japanese Cedar has been with us for over eight years. It’s 15″ tall right now.

A Favorite Miniature Garden Tree: The Tansu Japanese Cedar

I was cleaning up our in-ground miniature garden the other day and found this miniature garden gem, our Tansu Japanese Cedar, (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’) growing happily in the back corner underneath a big Azalea. We’ve had an incredibly dry summer, but the Tansu is now established (meaning the roots can find their own nutrients) so we water it sparingly with our other established plants in the same bed. It lives in a part sun / dappled-shade spot which helps keep the soil damp. “Right plant, right place” is so true, especially when planting in the ground.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The same Tansu in late fall of 2007 and looks to be about 6″ tall. It’s planted in a container with a Mother Lode Juniper on the right, Elfin Thyme in front and small Hens and Chicks in the front, left.

The different colored foliage on the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’ above, is its winter blush. In areas where temperatures dip in the winter, Cryptomerias change color dramatically. It’s a nice change when you need it most. The Mother Lode Juniper on the right is blushing too, the yellow will change to plum and amber in the cold air. Both plants will turn back to their rich green color when the weather warms up in the springtime.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

When you find the Tansu in 4″ pots, they are only 5″ tall.

The Dwarf Japanese Cedars are suitable for zones 6 through 9 or to -10F. You can overwinter it in a garage if you are in a colder area, or treat it like an annual and enjoy it for as long as it lasts – which will certainly be longer than a bouquet of flowers for the same price. If you do, remember to take photos of your miniature garden when it’s done so you can show it off to your unsuspecting friends and family. Lol!

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The Tansu Japanese Cedar is also available in 2 ½” pots and are cuter than cute. They are 3″ to 4″ tall in this size. Available in a set from our online store linked below.

Enjoy the tiny, 2 ½” conifers in a container for a couple of years to let them get a bit bigger before planting them in the ground. The 2 ½” conifers are available in sets here, in our online store. We’ve paired them with plants that like the same placement, but mix up the textures to make garden design more interesting to the eye.

The growth shape is quite charming as the Tansu gets slowly bigger. They are under 5″ tall when found in the 4″ pots and start as an irregular cone-shape leaning to one side, then the branches billow up to create a gorgeous rich-green canopy. Find it in the 4″ sized here, up in our online store.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Fine foliage is critical for realism in the miniature garden. Mix up the textures with broadleaf plants, like the Variegated English Boxwood, another perfect candidate for a part sun / part shade spot. 

Companion miniature garden trees and shrubs for the Japanese Cedar are Hinoki Cypress, Balsam Fir, Hemlock, Elm, Boxwood, Dogwood or Spirea. Miniature garden bedding plants that will work well are any ground cover Thyme, Brass Buttons, Cranesbill, Dwarf Mondo Grass or Fairy Vines.

See all our plants here.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The same Tansu in 2012, we planted it in spring of 2010.

See what’s available now in our online store – we’ve sorted our trees into hardiness zones for your convenience! Shop by Zone here. We ship all year long safely, from our studio in Seattle. We are online online only and do the odd show in the Seattle area. Join us here to keep up to date on where we are.

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Online Gardening: Are We Growing Experts?

Janit Calvo:

Over 280 blog posts and five years later, we’re looking back to see very little has changed in this regard. – J.

Originally posted on The Mini Garden Guru - Your Miniature Garden Source:

Happy Fourth of July West Seattle! Let’s be careful out there. Adirondack chair is 3.5 inches tall.

A Garden For All: Growing experts?

By Janit Calvo
July 3, 2009

An online friend, and one of my sources for inspiration for my business, Barbara Winter, has many favorite quotes to live by, but I especially like this one as it gets more and more applicable in today’s online world where anyone can be an “expert.”

“Don’t take travel advice from someone who has never left home.”

I wish I heard that one years ago.

So, I’m on Twitter these days, and have been for several months now. I’m not sure if it is really helping my business, or it’s just a place for my random thoughts that pass through my head while working alone every day. Through this source, I’ve been exposed to many other garden-related people, and what they are…

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Miniature Gardening: Get Outside and Play

Our first garden in Seattle in 2002.


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.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette. It’s monthly and it’s still free. Join us here.

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

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

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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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