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