Archive for Miniature Plants

New Miniature Garden Trees are for Bonsai and Railroad Gardening Too

Miniature Garden Trees and Shrubs

White Bud Mugo Pine is a favorite for the miniature garden. This one has been groomed for a bonsai start but we can take advantage of that, and use it as a “big” miniature garden pine tree.

New Miniature Garden Trees for Bonsai and Railroad Gardening Too!

The fall shipment of miniature garden trees arrived this week and, as usual, I was chomping at the bit for the truck to arrive. I think it’s seeing them all at once that does it. The miniature and dwarf conifers come in an astounding number of colors, textures and personalities that is simply inspiring.

If you haven’t considered a conifer or dwarf tree for you miniature or fairy garden, please do. It will change the look of your miniature garden dramatically and make it look like a true garden in miniature. See our full line of miniature garden trees and plants here, there is something for almost every zone too.

New “Pre-Bonsai” Trees

In addition to our favorite miniature garden trees and shrubs we received a bunch of pre-bonsai plants too. While they are groomed to be bonsai’d, we know that we can use them in our miniature gardens as perfect “big” mini trees, trust that growth rate will be stable, and skip all the maintenance that comes with the art of bonsai. You can impress your friends AND your neighbors!

Keep them in shape by removing any new growth along the trunk and prune away any wayward top branches.

Click the photos to see more pictures and the growing details up in the store.

Shimpaku Chinese Juniper

Miniature Garden Trees and Shrubs

The Shimpaku Juniper before grooming and growing for a couple of years.

Pre-bonsai trees for miniature gardening

This Shimpaku Juniper after grooming and growing-in for 3 or 4 years. You can see why it’s prized by bonsai artists and desired by railroad gardeners. The peeling bark on the trunk adds wonderful detailing, they are hardy and drought tolerant too.

Valley Cushion Mugo Pine

Miniature and Dwarf Trees and Shrubs for the Miniature Gardeni

The Valley Cushion Mugo Pine is available as a cute little shrub too.

Miniature and Dwarf Trees and Shrubs for the Miniature Gardeni

A bigger Valley Cushion Mugo Pine groomed and grown in for about 3 or 4 years. It’s just too sweet to watch the wee trunk gradually lift the canopy off the ground.

Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm

Miniature Garden Trees and Shrubs

Before growing and grooming. You can see how delicate the trunk looks. If you start with young trees, you can have the pleasure of watching them grow up.

Miniature Garden Trees and Shrubs

The Seiju Lacebark Elm groomed for a few years by the grower. Maintain this look by pruning away any new growth along the trunk, and cut any wayward, top branches. In late winter, shear the canopy into shape by looking at the tree as a whole, instead of the individual branches.

See all the new trees and plants that arrived up in the store here. We’ve sorted them for you by zone here.

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Janit’s Laboratories, Ink.

Janit Calvo:

A Reblog and an update on a whimsical product idea – only from your Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center. We’ve since sold hundreds of these little charmers:

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

Experimenting with Miniature Moss Terrariums. It takes about two hours to rejuvenate the moss from a completely dried state.

Experimenting with Miniature Moss Terrariums. It takes about two hours to rejuvenate the moss from a completely dried state.

Janit’s Laboratories, Ink.

REBLOG from Stardate: September 23, 2009.

I often feel like a mad scientist. Trying out completely different things that just might work together.

In art college, one of my final thesis projects (1996) was an interactive, computer controlled kinetic painting. I applied electronics and motors to painted panels mounted on a larger board. I had help designing a software program to turn the motors in either direction, randomly. All the panels were activated by a digital platform to turn it on for random amounts of time. The idea was to give each viewer a completely different experience of the painting.

I know, whacky. The painting department didn’t like the electronics, and the electronic department didn’t care for the painting aspect. I knew I was truly onto something, blending two…

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A Little Miniature Gardening in the Big State of Texas

Miniature Gardening in Texas

Most conifers and young plants found in four-inch pots can be enjoyed in the miniature garden for years before they get too big. That is a Blue Star Juniper on the left, and the base of a Compress Juniper to the right of the bench – both would do well in the Houston climate.

A Little Miniature Gardening in the Big State of Texas

I was invited to do an interview for Your Livable Garden, the nation’s longest running landscape architecture radio show based in Houston, Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes miniature gardening – pardon the oxymoron. It remains in our top fives States for our online store sales and our Mini Garden Gazette sign-ups, and it has been for years.

So, it was about time to go digging deeper into what miniature garden plants would grow well in the area. Aside from the usual fall-back-plants for hot climates: sedums, cacti and carnivorous plants – all of which can lend interest to a miniature garden design – I wanted to find a better list of plants that can actually look like miniature versions of full-sized trees to help cinch the realism. And where’s there’s a will, there is a way.

Miniature Gardening in Texas

This is what the Blue Star Juniper looks like when found in found in four-inch pots.

How Did You Do That?

How did I find some ideas of what plants would work in Texas from my desk in Seattle? I first looked at a variety of trees and plants on a few websites and some on Pinterest (focusing only on specific boards titled “Plants for Houston.”) I looked for the similarities or varieties of the same plants that we have been growing with success for years in our miniature gardens here in Seattle. Once I saw a tree or ground cover that I recognized, I looked it up to make sure it fit into USDA Zone 9 and the AHS Heat Zone 9 – focusing on the Houston area where the show was based. The decisions came easy, it was either they matched or not.

Microclimates are Your Friends

The second place I looked was to my Fellow Miniature Gardeners. I looked up what plants my customers from Texas were ordering, double-checked some of the zones, and found out that some of these gals are pushing the zones – which really meant microclimates. Yay, more trees to choose from!

Microclimates are areas in your garden that differ from the regional zone that you are in. For example, if the Houston area is in USDA Zone 9, but your eastern side of your house is shaded by a big tree, you may have a microclimate that could be in Zone 8. That big tree will make air make the air cooler and the soil damper, allowing you to push your zone to accommodate more plants. Awnings, structures, denser trees or shrubs, or a big planter can create different microclimates in your garden, and help plants that need a little more protection from that harsh Texas summer sun. (Here is more information on the Texas’ microclimates from a gardener in San Antonio.)


Miniature Gardening in Texas

Baby boxwoods can be enjoyed while they are young. Pruning it back yearly can help slow down the growth rate and keep its bushy shape. This is the Justin Brouwers Boxwood.

And the Results are In!

Bedding-Plants for USDA Zone 9

(Note that I may be off on the flowering times.)

Vinca minor – Can get aggressive. Trim ruthlessly or let it run behind your garden scene. Flowers in late spring, early summer.

Ajuga reptens – Can get aggressive in-ground but we have had terrific results in containers by trimming back the spring growth. Purple flowers in the summer. We like the ‘Chocolate Chip’ variety.

Liriope spicata – This Dwarf Lily Turf can grow tall in-ground after a few years, and spread somewhat fast. We have found it stays shorter in pots where the spreading can be controlled. There are other kinds of Liriope, look for the clumping kind, it’s better behaved.

Bellium minuta – Miniature Daisies are just the greatest. (We’ll have more in the store next week.)

Miniature Hostas – Love the shade. The miniatures are the cutest ever. Easy to grow. (The only reason we don’t grow them here in Seattle is the snails and slugs love them too.)

Groundcover Thymes – Different than the culinary Thyme and not edible. A pleasure to grow in the minature garden. Flowers in the summer.

Dwarf Mondo Grass – Another favorite. Good for indoors too.

Miniature Garden Trees and Shrubs for UDSA Zone 9

I used the botanical latin names because there are a number of varieties within each of these recommendations that will suit:

Euonymous japonicus microphylla – Look for the babies in four-inch pots as the shrubs can get really big. Start small can keep it small with yearly pruning to help slow-down the growth-rate.

Buxus microphylla – The English Boxwood is another favorite. As with the Euonymous, look for the young babies in four-inch pots and prune them to slow them down. See our selection of dwarf Boxwoods here.

Spirea japonica – Japanese Spireas are available in many different leaf-colors. Start with baby plants in four-inch pots and shear them by third after bloom and again in late winter. (Note that there is a gap in my spirea knowledge – I’m not sure what Spireas do in the winter in Texas. I need a teleporter. Lol!)

Juniper horizontalis & squamata – The Juniper horizontalis is the ground cover juniper that grows sideways. Great in-ground or in pots, just trim the runners (new growth) every spring and winter to slow them down. The Juniper squamata ‘Blue Star,’ for example, is a favorite with a mounding growth habit that can be shaped into a tree. See our miniature and dwarf Junipers here.

Miniature Gardening in Texas

The Juniper horizontalis, or ground cover Junipers, comes in many forms and colors. It really is a delight to grow.

You can start to see a pattern here with choosing young or baby trees with small leaves. If you can find them in four-inch pots, you can enjoy them for years in a miniature garden while watching it grow up. When it gets too big, you can start a “bigger” miniature garden, pass it on to another gardener or use it as in your full-sized garden bed.

And lastly, this is a sampling that other Texans have ordered from our online store where they must have microclimates. All of the plants listed below will need consistently damp soil (as in wrung-sponge-damp) and shade from that hot afternoon sun. Or, try them in containers that you can easily move around as the weather changes but, double-check to be sure that you can push the zones in your garden first.

- Dwarf and Miniature Hinoki Cypress

- Dwarf and Miniature Canada Hemlocks

- Dwarf and Miniature Spruce

- Jacquelline Hillier Elm (Available in Spring)

(The above list is based on the orders from our clients in Texas.)

Got a microclimate in your garden? See all of our “Zone 8 and Up” plants for miniature gardening here.

See all of our plants for all zones here.

We are just stocking up the online store this week and next to to get ready for the fall planting season! Want to be on the inside of the hobby? Join us for your FREE monthly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter. Sign up by using the form here.

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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.

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

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

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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 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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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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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.

Like this? Then you will love our Mini Garden Gazette! Click into our main website to join us for more fun in the miniature garden.

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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