Archive for Miniature Plants

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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 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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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.

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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 at Sorticulture, The Coolest Garden Show

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Remember the Seahawk Garden Shed? This is the same one dolled-up for the big Sorticulture Garden & Art Show on this weekend.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture, The Coolest Garden Show

Great venue, great artists and great plants from local growers can be found at Sorticulture this weekend. Everett Parks and Recreation Department puts on this show in their beautiful, sprawling Legion Park that overlooks Puget Sound. Check out the osprey and eagles while strolling through huge sequoias and arborvitaes. Great food and refreshments too! Bring the whole family – it’s a great place for the kids too.

Click to enlarge the photos!

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

A bird’s eye view of the garden shed garden. It’s grown and morphed a bit over the years. In the lower, left-hand corner, we replaced the Chirmen Cypress that didn’t do well in full-sun with a new Bullata Spirea. We’re testing out the new Alpine Spirea in the upper left-hand corner and an Hinoki Cypress in the bottom, right-hand corner. That lovely yellow plant’s name is escaping me right now – I’ll come back and fix this when this ol’ noggin’ gives it up. Lol!  

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture 2014

Some of the Hens and Chicks grow up to be quite big. I didn’t have the urge to upset them, they were looking so lovely snuggled into the moss. That is a Thyme-Leaf Cotoneaster on the left just after it flowered.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The full display came together nicely. It’s always different as we adjust each year to fit in and around the established planting in the garden bed. I normally don’t photograph in the full-sun but I had no choice – it was a stellar day! 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This is the same garden on page 46 of the Gardening in Miniature book – the one with the Easter Island head in it. (Also shown on page 231.) The Hens and Chicks have grown in nicely.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

That tree is a perennial, Sea Foam Artemisia, that’s a bit stressed out. It should be full of foliage but it looks great this way as a miniature garden tree. It loves full sun and drier soil so I paired it with Sedum Button behind the chair, and White Diamond Sedums in the left and right corners. All plant colors match, all textures are very different. That small miniature garden with the Green Terra is the same one on page 48 in the Gardening in Miniature book.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I added a bit of whimsy, the show attracts a lot of kids and they love the tiny details as much as we do. Find new tiny miniature garden gnomes up in the online store. Link is below! The left-hand plant is Red Thyme, the right-hand variegated is Silene.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This box was made by Lori of Scrapwood Studios, a fellow miniature gardener and crafter of fun home and garden decor. It’s a mix of sempervirens, or Hen and Chicks, and Sedum cuttings.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

We wanted to create a story for the dog in this miniature garden for our Sorticulture display this weekend. I’ve been thinking about these water balloons that Steve had stashed away because they were already small. I barely blew it up, tied a knot and cut off the big end. Found a string and undid a strand to tie it on the balloon. Stuck it in the tree and wound the string around a branch like the wind would do. Very. Fun. Red Thyme in the front, a variegated Cotoneaster trimmed into a tree shape in the back.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

A handmade trug from Albe Rustics (AlbeRustics.com.) If you go to the Sorticulture Show, you’ll see Vanca and Joe with all their fantastic twig furniture, tables, bar sets and trugs. Vanca makes some great garden flags too. 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

One of the new tiny trees, a Top Point Dwarf Cedar is paired with Tricolor Sedum for a full-sun miniature garden. I planted the Cedar in the middle of the pot and put a rim of the Sedums behind it because the terra cotta pot will wicks the moisture out of the soil and away from the plant’s roots. The Sedums will be able to tolerate the dry soil much better than the tree will.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture 2014

I’m loving that I can show the same miniature gardens that are shown in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book. The garden was made in 2007, the photo of this garden in the book was taken in June, 2012 and here it still is. This Top Point Dwarf Cedar is flanked by two White Pygmy Cypress. The “grass” is Irish moss that has grown tighter and tighter over the years. The fountain is 7″ tall.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

If you go! You’ll find signed copies of the Gardening in Miniature book at the Sorticulture show too! The miniature garden display and the aforementioned twig furniture and YFMG, Lori and her gardens, are at the show, on the west side of the main building in the park. 

Find the miniature garden plants and accessories here, up in the online store here.

Want more insight into the plants and accessories that you see in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book? Please visit our Pinterest page that we set up, just for you here.

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New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part II

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The Fairy Puff Sawara Cypress eventually charmed us with its soft, feathery texture and great color.

New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part II

We are catching up to the new miniature garden plants and trees that we have in stock this season. The last blog covered a few of them, find it here in case you missed it. In this post we have quite the selection, from Siberia to fairies to a new dwarf willow that we are playing with. All are very fun – do keep in touch if you are one of the lucky ones to get your hands on these gems, and let us know what you think of them!

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Follow the delicate, creamy tips down the branch and you’ll find a rich, gray-green color. Shear it in the winter to maintain this great color scheme.

Fairy Puff Sawara Cypress

A sweet lil’ puff of green goodness! The Fairy Puff Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Fairy Puff’) has lovely coloring and whimsical branches leaping out of the globe-shaped shrub, just so. The creamy buds on the tips of grey-green branches can easily be paired with dwarf or miniature spruce, juniper or mugo pines.

To keep the foliage soft, fluffy and bushy, shear it in late winter and it will stay in that tight, cute ball. It grows 1 to 3” per year, but with the shearing, it will slow it down to well under 2” per year. Prefers cooler sun, or a sunny spot where the soil won’t dry out. Hardy to -20F (or -5F in a container,) cold zones 5 – 8, heat zones 8 – 1.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Put this into the hands of a miniature gardener, and it will champion the garden when it blooms. Ruby-red bloom turn to pink against the pretty chartreuse green leaves.

Alpine Spirea

Okay, my old sales rep recommended this one to me. If it doesn’t work, I’ll give you his email address. Lol! But he has assured me that the Alpine Spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Alpina’) is a perfect for the miniature garden – and it certainly looks like it will be a gem. The leaves are the perfect scale with tiny, chartreuse foliage and distinctive, ruby-red flower buds that open up to pink. Let me repeat that just in-case you missed it: ruby-red flower buds that open up to pink flower clusters on top of chartreuse foliage – well, need I say more?

Like all our dwarf Spireas (pronounced spy-REE-ahs,) it will need shearing in the wintertime when it’s dormant. This will help slow-down the 2 to 3” per year growth rate and keep it’s globe-shape. And shear after flowering to clean it up a bit. Hardy to -30F (or -15% if it’s in a container,) cold zones 7 – 9. Heat zones 9 – 1. It likes full-sun but don’t let the soil dry out between watering sessions, I think it will get a bit cranky.

Miniature Garden Plants

The new Siberian Cypress is a ground cover cypress. It will grow to about 1 foot tall and then spread out gradually.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Double Delight: A very hardy ground cover cypress AND the lacy foliage is airy and can lend itself to fairy gardens or whimsical themes.

Siberian Cypress

The Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata) is a promising candidate for the miniature garden because it’s really a ground cover. It grows to about one foot tall then it will start to grow prostrate (sideways.) The feathery foliage turns bright green in the summer, and a bronzy purple in colder areas in the winter. Apparently it does well in poor soil and windy areas too.

Hardy, hardy, hardy to -40F! Take that polar vortex! It will need full-sun and well-drained soil, leave the soil to dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid over watering. Prune to control wayward growth. Hardy to -25F if planted in a container, cold zones 3 – 7, heat zones, 7 – 1.

Miniature Garden Plants

The Dwarf Willow in the spring time. Some pruning is necessary to shape it up and to keep it in shape. A flush of tiny green leaves follows the catkins.

Miniature Garden Plants

The red catkins on the Dwarf Willow. They flush out in the springtime followed by the tiny, shiny green leaves.

Dwarf Willow

We’re still playing with this little Dwarf Willow (or Salix lindleyana.) We had a ground cover called Salix lindleyana last year, and here it is in a tree-form looking all cute and pretty. This must be its natural height, and then it will grow prostrate (sideways.) The pink catkins are very pretty to see in the springtime. We are keeping one trimmed by pruning away the bottom-most branches to show off the trunk. Note that the trees come un-pruned, so you can do what you like with it. See the photos below how we pruned ours, we would love to see what you do with yours.

We know that Willows don’t mind moisture so use this gem in a place where the soil will never dry out and it will be able to handle cool, full sun. Keep it in partial shade if it’s in a pot to help maintain the dampness of the soil. Hardy to -10F (or 5F if in a container,) can be grown in cold zones 7 – 8, and heat zones 8 – 7. Rare, quantities are limited.

 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The same tree as above, a few weeks later. Steve and I went back and forth on how to prune this new Dwarf Willow. I liked keeping a couple of the “‘suckers” on the base of the tree to keep the look casual…

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

… so I Photoshopped them them out to see if it looks better! Lol! Okay, it does change the look from casual to a more formal look. It will depend upon how the growth reacts to the pruning now. Stay tuned!

Zoned Out (ICYMI from Part I)

Don’t know your zone? The USDA developed a general cold zone map. And the American Horticultural Society developed a heat zone map for the other half of the country. Put the two together if you are in the southern states, and be sure to double-check to see if the plant you want is the correct heat-zone rating. Right plant, right place – but you may be surprised with a little experimentation too.

USDA Cold Zone Map is here.

AHS Heat Zone Map is here.

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New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part I

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

After a couple/few years of letting this Dwarf Wisteria tree grow in, I can prune it back next winter and still have a good-looking tree. The accessories here on one-inch scale. Click the picture to get to the store.

New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part I

Ahhh, summertime is just around the corner! A new season always brings new reasons to the miniature garden workbench: parties, barbecues, gardening, relaxing, enjoying, making fun and creating. Want to lower your blood pressure? Start a miniature garden. Want to escape from the every day? Create a miniature garden. Want to help clean the air around you? Grow a miniature garden. Want to make someone happy? Give a miniature garden. With a combination like that, miniature gardening could get very, very contagious. And we’ve only just begun.

So, with a new season, we bring new plants for your miniature gardening pleasure. Here are the newest trees to our inventory, three of which we have been selling for a while, (but we wanted to make sure they would work out before officially introducing them,) and the other four are promising candidates recommended by our grower. This is part one of two blogs on our new trees that are now in stock.

Miniature Garden Plants

Our Dwarf Wisteria, about three years after we planted it. The pot didn’t make it through last winter, but the tree did. This is one of the photos from the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, by Timber Press.

Dwarf Wisteria

I thought I might have killed it – again. But my Dwarf Wisteria (Millettia japonica ‘Hime fuji’) bounced back and looks as pretty as ever. I’ve left it to grow-in naturally to see what it does and I haven’t been disappointed. Mine turned into what I call a small country-garden tree, or a tall, leggy shrub that you can plant something in front of to hide the trunk.

It’s not a dwarf version of the real wisteria apparently, but it looks like one. Do note that it does not flower. Keep it in a sunny spot but don’t let the soil dry out. Trim the wayward branches back to maintain its bushiness. Gradually trim off the bottom growth/branches if you want more of a tree look. This gem can be moved inside for the winter if you are in one of the colder regions of the country, otherwise its hardy to 10F, (or about 35F if in a container,) cold zones 8 – 10, heat zones 10 – 7.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm is already a great looking miniature garden tree. Shear the canopy in winter and clear away any new growth along the bottom of the trunk when you see it. Shown here in a 4″ pot, they stand about 7″ tall right now. 

Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm

Charmed, I’m sure! We love this new Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Seiju’) for it’s perfectly in scale trunk and tiny leaves. It’s a common tree for bonsai so we know it will work well in the miniature garden. The leaves will drop in the fall and leave an interesting framework as the stems develop an exfoliating bark, as they get older.

Trim wayward branches, it should promote more bushiness too. It prefers full to part sun, and moist, well-drained soil. It matures slowly, about 3” per year to 4 feet tall; you can slow this down even further by trimming it back in late winter. Keep the foliage pruned away from the trunk to keep the tree’s shape. Hardy to -20F (or -5F if in a container,) cold hardy zones 5 – 9, heat zones 9 – 5.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The crimson-red flowers on the Bullata Japanese Spirea are set off by the deep, slight bluish-green leaves, a lovely combination.

Bullata Japanese Spirea

A little shrublet for the miniature garden AND it flowers too. The Bullata Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica Bullata’) offers a deep green,

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The one in the middle is just finishing its first flush of flowers, the two on the left and the right are coming into their second flush. A great miniature plant without the flowers too.

broadleaf with clusters of rose-crimson flowers that flush out in late spring. This will be a very pretty compliment to the miniature and dwarf conifers in your miniature or fairy garden.

This spiraea (pronounced spy-REE-ah) is slow-growing at 2 to 4” per year, but for the miniature garden, shear this little bush back about one third each winter to help keep it small for years. Great for a full sun spot with soil that can remain damp. I think it can tolerate a little dryness, but never leave it too long in between watering sessions. Shear it after flowers in the spring and you’ll get a second bloom out of it. Hardy to -30F (or -15F if in a container,) cold zones 7 – 9. Heat zones 9 – 1.

Zoned Out

Don’t know your zone? The USDA developed a general cold zone map. And the American Horticultural Society developed a heat zone map for the other half of the country. Put the two together if you are in the southern states, and be sure to double-check to see if the plant you want is the correct heat-zone rating. Right plant, right place – but you may be surprised with a little experimentation too.

USDA Cold Zone Map is here.

AHS Heat Zone Map is here.

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Miniature Gardening at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

Bringing true miniature gardening to the huge Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Disney World was such a treat! It was great to connect with many Fellow Miniature Gardeners that came from all over the Florida State. Here is me in the middle of one of my demonstrations.

Miniature Gardening at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Well what a treat that was! It was more than a pleasure to bring something new to the huge Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Disney World last week. Who would have thought I could teach those cracker-jack-horticulturalists a new way to grow?

AND it was equally fun introducing to the organizers, our dedicated and loyal Fellow Miniature Gardeners, some drove hours and/or trudged through tropical downpours just to see me. One FMG said, “Thank you for existing.” That just floored me, and it still chokes me up when I think of her kind words. I’m so grateful to be the conveyer of fun and creativity, my two favorite topics!

Okay, enough reminiscing, lets back the miniature gardens! Here are the details of the pots, plants and my thinking behind each of the demo set-ups that I brought to Epcot:

About the Plants:

All the plants were chosen for Florida’s zone 11 but they can also be grown through to zone 5, or -20F. In last week’s blog, I covered some planting tips for the southeast to help get the most out of your miniature garden trees and shrubs. If you encounter some issues adapting these plants to your climate, please let me know, as I don’t have a chance to watch them grow in different climates.

Keep in mind that if you do lose a tree, please don’t let it stop you. Expert gardeners lose plants often; they just don’t talk about it much. Besides, plants don’t grow on trees – they ARE trees! So, if at first you don’t succeed, grow again! ;o)

About the Pots:

I normally choose ceramic containers when doing demonstrations because I just love pottery of all kinds. Your miniature gardens can stay together and possibly last for years and years, so invest in a nice container that compliments your decor. I chose these bamboo pots because I had to bring them with me in my luggage and they are sturdy, colorful and lightweight. Your local independent garden center will have more colors; I’ve seen them in bright pink, lemon yellow, lime-green and a bright eggplant-purple.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

The first day’s demonstration garden. A heat-hardy combination geared towards the Florida climate. Plants are listed below.

Demo #1 – Miniature Gnome Garden

The formal-style bench doesn’t look as formal when paired with a cedar trellis and a wee garden gnome. The pots add to the story and play-ability too. Use sedum cuttings as miniature plants for your wee pots, and don’t water them for a couple of days after planting. The end of the Sedum cuttings needs to cauterize to know to root.

Plants: In the back, center is a Top Point Dwarf White Cedar, with a Red Tip Podocarpus to the right of it. In the garden bed from the left are Miniature Daisies*, that is a Fairy Vine in front of the cedar trellis, a Dwarf Mondo Grass in front of the Cedar and another patch of Miniature Daisies on the far right.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

I love coordinating the patio material, the pot and the accessories together by color too.

Design: Once I narrowed down the plant choices for the Florida climate, I choose for shape. I anchored the back of the bed with the tallest tree, the Cedar, and started to layer-down from there with the Podocarpus. The Fairy Vine with the trellis on the other side helps balance the height to make it appear more symmetrical. The Dwarf Mondo Grass fills in the middle of the bed and I’ve repeated the Miniature Daisies on either side to unite the look of the garden and keep it looking uncluttered. This is a good combo for part sun or cool sun in the south, full sun in the north.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

Little details lure the viewer to come closer and see what’s going on.

Color: The bark of the Top Point Dwarf White Cedar matches the chocolate-colored pot. The stems of the Fairy Vine and the Podocarpus also pick up the rich brown tones. The patio stones, our Tequila Sunrise Stone Sheet, (locked in with our Mini Patio Mix Kit,) plus the cedar trellis, add to the palette of brown shades. The ivory bench lends a focal point, and the tiny gnome and pots add the charm and reward the view for coming in for a closer look.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

Silvers, gray and reds is a fun color scheme for the miniature garden. The classic cherub birdbath adds the class.

Demo #2 – Classic Miniature Garden

By adding the classic stone-colored accessories to the grays and burgundy plant combination, it helped connect colors of the Mother Earth Stone Sheet with the pink/gray/green/ivory coloring that I used for the patio. I used a heavy-marbled gray and white stone to add instant age to the garden bed. And the engraved-heart miniature rock adds a touch of gray and more love to the miniature garden bed.

Plants: The tall Helmond Pillar Barberry in the back, Blue Star Juniper on the right. In the garden bed on the far left and right is Red Thyme with a Sedum album ‘Murale’ in the middle.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

The tints and tones of the patio are reflected throughout the garden.

Design: When I chose the Blue Star Juniper with it’s spikes and stars to match the gunmetal gray pot; I knew I needed something as equally as strong to hold a presence with it. The Barberry was a perfect choice in color and with its columnar, upright shape contrasting with the globe shape of the Juniper. The Red Thyme repeats the texture and the Murale Sedum adds structure to the understory.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

We put some water in the birdbath and float a wee flower or leave in it for fun.

Color: I started with the gunmetal gray pot, and matched it with the silver-colored Blue Star Juniper. The deep burgundy leaves of the Barberry added a richness to the combination, then it was just a matter of matching the colors with the Red Thyme and that small-leafed Murale Sedum turns red when stressed out, a perfect match for this combination for full, cool sun in the south, full sun in the north. The Mother Earth Stone Sheet matched everything, the grays, browns, pinks and tans – and I used our Mini Patio Mix Kit to create a permanent patio.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

A deeper pot means a longer life for your miniature garden. We recommend at least 8″ deep for a garden to stay together for at least a couple of years.

Demo #3 – Miniature Garden Vignette

This garden shows how fun it is working with different scales. By using the large-scale (1” scale) furniture, the miniature garden looks like a vignette literally cut out of a larger garden. If I used the medium scale, it would look more like a complete miniature garden with trees and large shrubs. Here is more on how to use the different miniature garden scales.

Plants: The bright green shrub on the right is a Limeglow Juniper (a groundcover, so I know it won’t grow “up,” only spread.) To the left is a Teeny Mugo Pine. In the understory, Miniature Daisies* flank an Elfin Thyme. A cold and heat-hardy pot for full sun, but I would shelter it from the western, summer sun.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

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Design: Shorter plants can work well in the miniature garden by matching the colors and mixing up the textures. The yin and yang-shaped garden bed adds more space on the miniature patio. The tiny miniature garden was added for a laugh, the birdbath is the small size or ¼” scale.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

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Color: I thought the vibrant green of the Limeglow Juniper was a great color to liven up the chocolate brown pot. The bud color of the Mugo Pine picks up the tones of the pot and adds more texture to the combo. The texture of the Miniature Daisies contrast with the tiny leaves of the Elfin Thyme. The Small Ivory Pebbles tie-in the creamy tips of the Mugo Pine.

Sun-Sun-Sun

Part of the challenge with planting in that type of hot and humid climate is, of course, the sun but note that although the plants may be listed as heat-hardy, when planted in a container, the soil has a higher risk of drying out more often. Most of our plants can handle the occasional dryness, but drying out too often will quietly torture the plant to death.

If you do plant in pots, you always have the luxury of moving the pot into a part-sun spot for the hot months, and then you can graduate it back to full sun for the cooler months.

*Miniature Daisies were not listed for Zone 11 but I thought the flowers would make up for the short-life and last until the end of the Festival in May.

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Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo At Epcot

Hamming it up for the camera. It’s funny to see my own signs.

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Miniature Gardening in the Southeastern States

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I was hired to do a talk and demo for three days so I took the opportunity to make three different gardens. The silver shrub is a Blue Star Juniper. The burgundy bush is the Helmond Pillar Barberry matched with Red Thyme. Perfect for an eastern or cool sun spot.

Miniature Gardening in the Southeastern States

When you start looking for the plants that will suit miniature gardening, you’ll find a new world of plants will open up to you. The same thing happened when I was asked to do a talk at the wonderful Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Disney World. Southeastern climates with extreme heat and humidity will need plants that can withstand those conditions if you want them to thrive. I started my search with my short-list of ways to find plants for miniature gardening, consulted my library and found that some of our plants that we’ve been working with for years will work too. Here are the results.

What’s a Miniature Garden Plant?

Not everyone knows what a “miniature garden plant” is yet, and some nurseries are mixing up the fairy garden idea with miniature gardening. Just because it has a “fairy” name, doesn’t mean it will work as a miniature. And, just because it has small leaves, doesn’t mean it will suit either. Here, on the other hand, is what will work if you focus on the right combination of small leaves, slow growth rate and the height of the plant and its flowers. Note that what I mean by the height will depend upon whether you are using that plant as a tree, shrub or bedding plant – and that includes flowers too. Look for small-leafed and slow growing: – Rockery plants – Miniature and dwarf plants, (‘miniature’ and ‘dwarf’ are growth rates) – Alpine plants – Baby plants – Ground covers

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

For this set-up, I anchored the bed with a Top Point Dwarf White Cedar, (the tall tree,) the round shrub is a Red Tip Podocarpus and matched with Dwarf Mondo Grass and a Fairy Vine. A good combo for cool sun or part sun with regular water.

Tips for growing Two Green Thumbs’ trees in southern climates:

A lot of the trees that you buy in 4” pots for miniature gardening are little balls of young foliage. In cooler climates the air helps keep the plant at a comfortable temperature if you keep the conifer dieback cleaned out of the center where it tends to collect in the young shrub. In more humid climes, you can help the young shrubs get air circulation into the wee canopy by “opening them up.” With a little patience and a sharp pair of garden scissors, carefully prune out the middle branches on the shrub. Work gradually and always take the entire plant into consideration before each snip. Cutting the wrong branch or a “big” branch can compromise the overall look of the shrub. Start with cutting away any criss-crossing branches, snip any downward branches and then concentrate on shape. Plant in part shade or part sun to avoid that strong afternoon sun. Many of our plants can handle the full sun in northern climates where the sun is a bit cooler, and the ground stays evenly damp. You can mimic these conditions by giving the plant a cooler spot to grow in with cooler sun, eastern sun, dappled light or on the northern side of the house. Don’t over plant. Our tendency is to fill up the garden right away to get that look of a “real” garden – and that’s one of the joys of gardening in miniature: instant gratification. But, in some southern regions where there is a lot of humidity, the trees will appreciate any extra air circulation that they can get. So not only help the tree/shrub with a little pruning, plant the plants further apart so the air can go through the plants to keep them healthy.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The combination can handle a little bit more sun. The yellow shrub is a Limeglow Juniper, paired with a Teeny Mugo Pine and an Elfin Thyme for the lowest layer.

Rethink your plant selections. You can always change your thinking and consider the miniature and dwarf conifers as annual plants that will last for a couple/few months. Hinoki Cypress or any dwarf Spruce can certainly be enjoyed over the holiday months until they start to fade. Don’t’ think of the initial cost of the tree as an expense, but rather as entertainment, and amortize the cost over the 4 to 6 months that you can enjoy your miniature garden – I bet it’s cheaper than a latte! And, it’s easy to replace too – swapping out a miniature garden tree for a fresh one takes minutes – and you can still go to work on Monday morning a brag about all the gardening you got done on the weekend. Here is a list of miniature garden plants that we stock in our online store that don’t mind the heat and humidity of the southeastern garden. Note that not all plants are not available at all times and there may be some trail and error needed in finding out what they need to be happy. Red Tip Podocarpus – Podocarpus aplinus ‘Red Tip’ Blue Star Juniper – Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ Groundcover Juniper – Juniper horizontalis Tansu Japanese Cedar – Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’ Ulmus parvifolia ‘Hokkaido’ – Dwarf Chinese Elm Dwarf Mondo Grass – Ophiopogon japonica Nana Fairy Vines – Muhlenbeckia complexa Lily Turf – Lirope spicata Sedums – small leafed I’m posting from Disney World and I’m not able to link these plants to the store – yet. ;-) I’ll show the results of the demos on our next blog so stay tuned! The books I consulted in my library, in addition to our bestselling Gardening in Miniature Book: Create Your Own Tiny Living World: Succulent Container Gardens, by Debra Lee Baldwin, published by Timber Press Miniature Garden Guidebook for Beautiful Rock Gardens, Container Plantings, Bonsai, Garden Railways, by Nancy Norris Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter. It’s FREE and you get a free PDF just for signing up with us! Join us here. Your Miniature Garden Center   http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.com

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