Posts Tagged condo gardening

The Most Creative Review on Gardening in Miniature Book

Texas Triffid Ranch

The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities For Odd People – another source for creativity and ideas. This is his masthead.

The Most Creative Review on Gardening in Miniature Book

As the book reviews keep flowing in and around the Internet, one stands out among the rest as the most creative book review I’ve read – never mind receiving. Paul Riddell is the imaginative brain behind The Texas Triffid Ranch. His slogan is “Odd Plants and Oddities for Odd People,” he had me at the word “odd.” Lol! Check out this book review and let me know if you’ve ever come across one that is more creative than this:

Review: Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

And here’s a couple of more links to his miniature garden research and suggestions on his blog. Paul has had a love for dinosaurs since childhood and miniature gardening was one of the ways he would play and learn about them. Do a search on his blog for ‘miniature garden’ and you’ll get to more of his info, resources and ideas on tools, books, dioramas and more. Especially if you have young boys around – you’ll love his take on miniature gardening.

Paul’s essential reading on miniature gardening 

Walking with Miniature Gardens

From the gallery of Texas Triffid Ranch

Paul’s miniature gardens aren’t just gardens. They usually contain a link to the past – or the future. Click the picture to go visit his gallery.

Paul also does a ton of work with promoting unusual plants through his nursery, lectures and trade shows in the northern Texas area. One of his specialities is carnivorous plants – some of which come in miniature, I might add! He also specializes in prehistoric plants and vivariums. Check out his main website, see his gallery and event schedule here:

Follow his journeys on his Facebook page and I guarantee you’ll never look at life the same again,

Gardening in Miniature Book

Now available at a bookseller near you!

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Miniature Gardening in Recycled Containers, Part II

The Miniature Garden Shed Project

We wanted an aged look for this miniature garden idea so we used weathered wood to build it. We put screen-mesh down on the bottom to help keep the soil from draining out the seams and the drainage holes.

Miniature Gardening in Recycled Containers, Part II

MINIATURE GARDEN ALERT: Timber Press’ giveaway ends tomorrow! Enter to win a free Miniature Garden Kit AND a Gardening in Miniature book here.

~ ~ ~

This is a continuation from last week’s blog, Part I, where we covered planting in suitcases, drawers, wheelbarrows, metal cans, wood crates and trugs. Today, we’re covering shoes, boots, broken pots, baskets, teacups, bowls and dishes. Whew! Perhaps it’s time to create a “Most Unusual Category” for our upcoming Annual Miniature Garden Contest being announced next week.

Recall Grandma’s words, “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.” As gardeners, we are natural stewards of the earth and I feel that we have an unspoken mandate to do what is best for the environment above and beyond what’s trendy or cute. Let me know what you think out this statement in the comments below – are we obligated to take into consideration the rules of reduce, reuse and recycle, first and foremost?

Miniature Boot Pot

A boot pot – in miniature. The original idea was to extend the life of an old shoe, to keep it out of the landfill for as long as possible.

Planting in Shoes and Boots

Shoes and boots make a great whimsical container for small plants but you are speeding up their trip to the landfill if you choose to plant up a decent pair of shoes that can be used by someone else. The idea behind the shoe-pot was to plant up an old, worn-out shoe to prolong its life and keep it out of the landfill. Pick a pair of shoes that you have saved from the garbage bin instead of plucking it straight out of your closet that will be better sent to Goodwill and reused by someone else. Try painting them if you want to do create something really unique.

The Broken Pot Garden

This idea has been circulating like mad on Pinterest and Facebook. If you use a broken pot to nest your miniature world in it, will be a temporary world. First of all, a lot of the pots used are terracotta which will add to the failure rate dramatically. Terracotta is very porous and wicks the moisture out of the soil and away from the plant’s roots. Secondly, not having a complete pot surrounding the soil will allow the moisture in the soil to evaporate very quickly. Once that soil dries out completely, the result will be dead plants – and a broken pot.

CAVEAT EMPTOR (means “Buyer beware”) – If you do enjoy this broken pot idea, please don’t buy a broken pot. I have heard of garden centers selling broken pots for this idea and, I’m sorry, that just tightens my jaw. Know that any store is going to throw out the pot anyway, you are doing them a favor by carting it away – for free. And use plants that can take the dryness too, like Sedums and Hens and Chicks.

Miniature Garden Containers

This pumpkin made a fun temporary garden. It lasted about three weeks before it turned to mush.

Miniature Garden Containers

Spooky! Before it turned to mush… ;o)

Planting in Baskets

Baskets lined in moss are for temporary arrangements. The moss does not keep the moisture in the soil, the basket dries out very quickly, the moss turns yellow and it becomes a big, dead mess. (Moss needs humidity because it absorbs water through its leaves.) This idea comes from the floral industry and can be a pretty display that lasts if it is done right. Place the whole pot and saucer, or a combination of small pots with saucers, in the basket and hide those plastic pots with moss. Find a good selection of different sized saucers at your local nursery or garden center.

Plastic-lined baskets don’t let the moisture out of the soil, the water doesn’t not let the air into the soil, plant’s roots rot and it’s a slippery slope to certain plant death. Use this kind of basket the same way as above, and place the whole potted plant in the basket – because it’s lined in plastic, you may not need the saucer. Always be wary of placing that planted basket or any pot on any surface, the moisture will damage wood surfaces quite quickly.

The wicker that the baskets are made of needs to stay dry to keep its rigidity, strength and shape. When baskets are made, the wicker is soaked in water to stay plyable while it is woven. Once the weaving is done, the basket is left to dry and it is really not supposed to be wet again. With the constant watering that your potted basket will need, the wicker will loosen up, the integrity of the weave will be compromized and lead to – you guessed it – landfill.

A big miniature tea cup garden

The miniature garden planted in a big teacup will need very careful monitoring – it doesn’t have a drainage hole so there is little room for error in watering.

Gardens in Teacups, Bowls, Dishes

Miniature Patriot Garden

Miniature Patriot Garden – A tiny mugo pine planted in a cup. I drilled a drainage hole in the bottom first. This will last about 2 years in such a tiny cup, then it will need repotting.

I know, a miniature garden can be really cute planted in a teacup or china-bowl. But without a drainage hole, you’ll have to be very attentive to the watering almost every day. If you over water it then you have a stressed out plant until the soil can dry out a bit. I have very little luck with containers that don’t have a drainage hole, life gets busy, Steve waters, then I water it again – and we end up with a little rotted mess. Then Steve backs off on the watering, I back-off thinking Steve is watering – and we end up with a dry-crispy mess. Fun, huh?

However, if you must go forth with this idea because it is a cute one, borrow the trick from last week’s blog and monitor the dampness of the soil by using a wood skewer tucked in the back of the garden. If the wood is damp, hold off on watering, if it’s dry, then water.

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Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs

Miniature Gardening Ideas, Plants, Patios, Accessories, Kits and More!


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Gardening in Miniature is Launched PLUS Northwest Tour Dates!

Gardening in Miniature is Launched PLUS Northwest Tour Dates!

Gardening in Miniature Book

Now available at a bookseller near you!

Timber Press officially launches its campaign for our brand, spankin’ new book, Gardening in Miniature: How to Create Your Own Tiny Living World next week. Let the fun begin! Life on earth will never be the same… garden history is forever changed! Yay!

For those who have been following our journey over the last decade, you’ll know what a milestone this is for us. For those who have just joined us, welcome to the cutest and most creative hobby in the whole-wide-world – miniature gardening where craft meets garden. Really, how fun is that?

We snuck the news out to our email list last month, and those of you that got a copy, congrats on nabbing a first edition! A second edition printing has already been ordered, they were afraid of running out. And, hey, Timber Press, be afraid… be VERY afraid! ;o)

More Bragging Rights

Gardening in Miniature has already topped several charts on Amazon. Over the last few of weeks, we’ve maintained the #1 spot in the Miniatures Department, we’ve occupied either the #1 or #2 position in Flower Gardening, AND we’ve maintained the #1 position in the Hot New Releases for Garden and Landscape this past week. I’ll take it!

Insert the happy dance here.


Gardening in Miniature Book

We’ve maintained the miniature gardens that were photographed for the book. We’ll go into more detail throughout the launch-month – Stay tuned!

Where to Find Your Copy?

Find your copy of Gardening in Miniature wherever books are sold – all the stores, online and brick and mortar, should have their books by now. Amazon[dot]com, of course, and your local Barnes and Noble bookstore have them – so you can save on shipping and shop locally. There are also bunch of independent garden centers, museum stores, gift shops and hobby stores have ordered the books in so you can support the local independent retailers.

Find a copy up in our online store, we have the only autograph option online. (Wink!)

Gardening in Miniature Book

It didn’t sink in that I was published until I saw a stack of them on my desk…

What’s to Come – Locally:

Seattle Mini Book Tour – Come and see us! 
We would love to meet you! 

Bring your friends, grab your neighbors, come,  fill a seat at our next seminar and find out what all the fuss is about!

I’ve been corralling new information for the talks that are based from the projects and photos in the book, Gardening in Miniature. We’ll are bringing the same gardens that are in the book to the following talks so you can see them up close and personal – and you can see how they’ve grown in too. Please join us for more fun!

The underlined links will take you to their website for directions and information:

Molbak’s Nursery, Woodinville
Saturday, July 13th, 12pm to 1pm – Free

Swanson’s Nursery, North Ballard
Sunday, July 14th, 11am to Noon – Free

Ravenna Gardens, University Village
Sunday, July 21st, 2pm to 3pm
$20 – reserves your copy of Gardening in Miniature book!
Call to register: (206) 729-7388

Touring Out of State: Timber Press is sending us to the major shows around the country for the next few months and into next year’s round of garden shows. I will be sure to post and send any news that I get so we hope to meet you one day! Join us to get any news delivered straight to your inbox. (And get our free PDF download after you sign up!)

Gardening in Miniature Book

Steve customized the customized the rusty, worn-out tractor. The bumper sticker says, “Eat Dirt.”

Online Fun

We have a bunch of things planned for the month-long celebration. Contests, giveaways, stories behind the gardens in the book, plant details, mini how-to’s, and generally much hoopla and merriment. Join us by signing up for the blog over in the right-hand side or, sign up for our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter – join us here. 

Find the all the miniature garden plants, accessories, kits and more here:

Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs

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July 4th & Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

July 4th in the Miniature Garden


July 4th and Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

In a continuation of our series, A Year in the Miniature Garden, here is July 4th in the Miniature Garden – and a little Canada Day celebration too!

In case you are just joining us, we are using the same miniature garden throughout the entire year and decorating it to suit as many occasions as we can muster. The challenge is building: to create a different look for the upcoming occasions, rather than falling back on the usual chair-table- plant-decoration scene. It’s a test of creativity but, hey, you know I love a good challenge. ;o)

Click here for a previous post with more July 4th (- as well as watering tips to help your garden beat the heat this summer.)

The rest of the series to date:

Father’s Day in the Miniature Garden

A Birthday in the Miniature Garden (with links to Canadian plant resources)

Mother’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Earth Day in the Miniature Garden

Spring [Easter] in the Miniature Garden

St. Patrick’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Valentine’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Happy Fourth!

July 4th in the Miniature Garde

I had to do it. I stained our favorite cedar deck with washes of red and white, and left the blue of the wood. It certainly added charm. The wee flag is a toothpick decoration – look in the party department at your favorite grocery store. The fireworks are made of paper and can’t be left outside. For the staining, use an artist’s acrylic paint set from an art, craft or hobby store, it’s easy water clean-up. Find the beer tub, deck and barrel-planter up in the store.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

I didn’t leave a lot of room for a lot of accessories, I’m running out of room as the plants grow in – but I do find focusing on the plants and garden, rather than the accessories, is much more relaxing to look at and live with. Keeping it simple makes it easy to maintain. Find the barbecue and plants up in the store.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

The Hen and Chick rosettes are now snuggled into the Wooly Thyme. Both love full sun and can tolerate a little dry soil now and again. See what plants are available here

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

I had to expand the deck area to make room for the barbecue. We hauled in a couple of pavers to do the trick. Confetti-stars add a bit of twinkle to the scene.

Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

Oh! Canada! My home and native land. To change from Canada Day in the Miniature Garden to July 4th, add blue and stars. ;o) Find the red chair and birdhouse up in the store.

Canada Day in the Miniature Garden

I found some old “stubby” beer bottles and a tiny case of beer from a Bob and Doug Mackenzie toy set in our stash. We call cases of beer that size, two-fer, a two-four is a case of 24 bottles. Right on, eh?

Find most of the plants and accessories here, in our online store, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Like this? Then you’ll love our newsletter, The Mini Garden Guru. Join us here and get a free PDF download after confirming through your email. Cick here.

Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs

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How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Our first display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. A good tip: pick a pot with a lip on it so you have something to grip if you have to move it or pick it up (not like the pots above!)

How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

From the Archives, 2004: This pot is 17″ high and 14″ wide and big enough to put a path through the middle of it.

Planting a miniature garden in big containers creates room for more fun. You can break up the design into a couple of smaller gardens with paths leading to and fro, make a huge yard with several focal points happening around the edge of the pot, or have enough room for a small house or building, a particular favorite of fairy gardeners. We talk about the different kinds of pots that can be used miniature gardening in our new book Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, but here are a few more tips on how to save some time and money – and your back – when working with very large pots or containers.

What’s Deep?

What do we consider a deep pot for miniature gardening? Any pot that is deeper than 14″, in my opinion.

Another popular question when planning a miniature garden in a huge pot is, “Should I put something in the bottom before I start planting?”  Yes, and there are several reasons why you can go ahead fill that big container up with some sort of filler, leaving 8″ to 10″ from the top of the pot, before you add regular potting soil that will make you, and the plants, happier in the long run.

The miniature garden plants that we recommend to use are usually small to start with, so they don’t need a lot of soil to get growing. I find some types of plants tend to falter when planted in a huge container full of soil, as most plants prefer a smaller root environment when they are young. We call it “swimming in soil,” when the water wicks away from the plant’s roots to the bottom of the pot where gravity pulls it, and the moisture doesn’t stay around the roots where it is needed. Then the roots dry out, the plant starts to stress and falter. By using filler, it shortens the depth of the soil, prevents the water from wicking, the soil stays damp longer and the roots stay happy.

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Planting miniature gardens in large pots leave more room for creativity.

Fill ‘Er Up

Another reason to use filler on the bottom of the pot is huge pots can get really heavy. The spot you choose may be perfect for that garden this summer and into next summer but you may want to eventually move it. The two most popular ways to fill up your pots are:

Styrofoam peanuts or popcorn: Most packing peanuts are biodegradable now so put them in a plastic shopping bag, tie the bag shut and place the bag upside-down in the pot so water doesn’t get inside and stagnate. If you are using a really big pot, use several of bags-full and fill the pot up to about 10” to 12” from the top.

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

Upside-down poly pots make a great filler. Smush them to fit them in.

Upside-down black plastic nursery pots: Start with big 1 or 2 gallon pots in the center of the bottom of the pot and work in the upside-down 4” pots, squishing them so they fill in as much space as possible. You can cut a couple of pieces of cardboard and layer it on top of the upside-down pots to create the “bottom” of the pot, or you can just start filling up the pot with soil.

We’ve heard of people using upside soda-cans and they would work only if they are rinsed out really, really well. Otherwise the sugar in the soda would draw unwanted pests to your container.

Note that this is for miniature gardening with small plants. Bigger plants mean more roots. If you are creating mixed containers of regular perennials and nursery plants you may want to use soil all through your container to leave plenty or room for root growth.

Stay tuned for Part 2! This was getting too long and I have more tips and techniques to share.

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Book Cover - Low Res 008

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Decorating Your Miniature Garden for the Holidays

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

There’s that magic of the Holidays – in miniature! Read on to find out more…

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

The same miniature garden as above in daylight. This pot was planted about 7 1/2 years ago. That shrub on the left is a Mother Lode Juniper and on the right is our favorite Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Alberta Spruce. (Pronounced “John”) The bottom most branches have been pruned to show off the great trunk that has been developing slowly. The pot is a little over 15″ wide and about 12″ deep.

Decorating Your Miniature Garden for the Holidays

One of the many enjoyable aspects of this super-creative hobby is decorating your miniature garden throughout the seasons. And, of course, one of the most fun, is for the Winter-Christmas-Holiday-Hanukkah-Kwanza-Solstice-Season. (Did I miss anyone? ;o)

You might be skeptical, thinking that, “Come on, Janit, how hard is it to decorate a miniature Christmas tree?” Well, that could be the difference between a tree decorated by Martha Stewart compared to one by Charlie Brown. But, with a couple of hints and some insight, derived after experimenting each holiday season for the last 11 years, you can easily give your miniature garden the designer’s touch with the right ingredients.

Blue and Silver Holiday Miniature Garden

Blue and Silver for Hanukkah. The grass on the left is a Silver Lily Turf (Liriope ‘Silver Mist’)   The bushy shrub on the left is the new Blue Moon Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Blue Moon’) The tall tree is a Miniature Juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’) Wooley Thyme cascades down the front, intermixed with small Hens and Chicks. The cedar deck was stained a grey color to match the color scheme and that tiny lantern ball is lamp work glass bead from artist Chuck Pefley. See more of his work at

Choosing What Works

You’ve probably seen miniature trees with a wide variety of individual ornaments placed carefully spaced throughout the tree’s boughs, interwoven with garland and ribbon. It is quite beautiful. But, the little balls, ribbon and garland are glued in place with a hot glue gun. That’s not really a great idea for your living miniature tree unless you don’t care if you kill it. In that case, get the hot glue, ignore the tree’s screams and throw it out after the holidays. ;o)

By now you’re thinking, “But Janit, they have mini ornaments at the craft store. What’s wrong with using those?” Well, it takes a TON of fiddling and fussing to get the strings around the branches of the tiny tree. It’s mainly because of the string itself gets in the way. After hanging the ornament on the tiny branch, the string sticks out even though you try to poke it inside or try to sneak it behind some foliage. Then, when you finally get the string hidden, you realize that the ornament fell out-of-place and you need to start all over again!

If you want to use the garland and the ornaments together – well, I haven’t figured that out yet because if you put the garland on before the ornaments, you won’t have access to all the branches for stringing the wee decorations. But, if you put the garland on afterwards, you will disturb and/or hide the ornaments!


My time and patience is better used elsewhere and I bet yours is too.

Sigh, the trials and tribulations of a miniature gardener…

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

Different textures help make the magic. The tiny presents are place in the boughs of the tree. This pot will stay where it is so we don’t have to tie or fasten them down. Note the different directions of the garland.

The easiest and the most straightforward way is to go with strings of lights and decorations. It takes the least amount of patience and it’s quick and easy. Weave them into the tree and try to mix up the direction of the strings so the tree doesn’t look like it’s in bondage.

Miniature Garden Christmas Decorations

Floral berry picks or holly berry picks poked into the tree work well as long as the tree stays in one place. They are easy to remove too!

For the ornaments, we use the small berry picks that the florist uses. Find them at your local craft store or wherever they sell artificial garland. They are available in green or yellow to look like miniature fruit, but they aren’t found as readily as the “holly berries.” Poke them into the tree at various intervals followed by poking few miniature bows throughout the tree and you are off to the next holiday project.

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

The wire bows are simply poked into the tree, held in place by the branches. If this were a gift, the wires can easily be wrapped around the branches. Do this before you place the ornaments.

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

Stretch out your holiday dollar by decorating the front-side of the tree only – but make sure place the garden up against a wall or hide the backside somehow. Make sure the wires are hidden behind the tree so you can’t see them from the front-side.

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

These lights were found at Michael’s Crafts and are meant for the artificial trees – they are not meant for outdoors so they shouldn’t get wet. Most of them have a place where you can plug in an adapter and have them run on electricity – this better for the environment too. Place them in a plastic bag and hide it behind the pot. Use some holly branches to disguise it, or make a fake gift box to house them in a clever way.

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

Christmas in the Miniature Garden. That’s a Piccolo Balsam Fir with red Thyme. And another lamp work glass bead from Chuck Pefley’s studio hangs from the hook to balance out the wee scene.

See our selection of decorations, lights and garland packs up in our store here. And there are more in our Etsy store here.

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An Inside Peek at the Miniature Plants in the Award-Winning Gardens

Laney's Miniature Garden

Laney’s Miniature Garden. Laney got a new camera so I thought to show off a clearer picture of her garden that won Honorable Mention. Laney lives and gardens in Mississippi.

An Inside Peek at the Plants in the Award-Winning Gardens

Everyone had a ton of fun with the Annual Miniature Garden Contest and it was great to see such a variety of plants and personalities. After years of holding miniature garden workshops, I can safely say, no two miniature gardens are alike – just like the people who made them!

There were some questions on the plants used in the winning gardens so here is a list of the plants with a little bit of insight from a fellow MG (Miniature Gardener.)

Glenna's Miniature Garden

Glenna from NY won Best Miniature Garden in a Container.

Best Container: Glenna’s planter should stay together for a few years, with some maintenance every two to three years with diving the ground covers to keep them from spreading too much. The trees and shrubs can be pruned back gently every now and to control their direction and their growth rate. All the plants in this pot are ideal for full sun, regular water but let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering. The plastic pot will help keep the soil damp too. A great combo visually and horticulturally.

Clockwise from the back back left corner:

- Thyme-Leaf Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster thyminifolia (July’s blooms turn to September’s berries, prune in late winter to keep its shape and to slow down the growth rate. Pronounce it Kaw-tone-ee-ass-ter.)
- Irish Moss, Sagina subulata (under the Cotoneaster, divide every 2 or 3 years.)
- Elfin Thyme, Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin‘ (an ideal miniature plant)
- Irish Moss, Sagina subulata (again, bottom right corner)
- Fairy Moss in the Pond, Azolla (also called mosquito fern, duckweed fern, water fern)
***Aggressive grower! Illegal in TX and LA. Keep contained at all times. Do not dump in waterways. Please be responsible about this one! ***
- Platt’s Black Brass Buttons, Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ (looks like mini ferns! Here is the New Zealand variety with prettier tones throughout.)
*Aggressive in-ground. Prune judiciously in spring, divide every year to keep it from running.*
- Mother Lode Juniper, Juniper horizontalis ‘Mother Lode’ (it’s a ground cover shrub so it stays low, loves drier soil and full sun.)

Karen's Miniature Garden Pumpkin Village

Karen’s Miniature Garden Pumpkin Village is in CA.

Best Halloween: Karen’s Pumpkin Village leaves us thinking, “Where could I do that?” Lol! The moss in the top trough looks like a type of sheet moss found in MA, where Karen is from. The planted trough in the front should last for years, again with some maintenance with the ground covers. The big-leafed plant that you see throughout the garden, I think are Forget-Me-Not self-seeded-starts – a weedy, self-sowing perennial that I bet Karen will pull out when it starts to grow up. This is a nice grouping for part to full sun with regular watering. Again, let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering.

Bottom trough, from the very left side:

- Juniper Blue Star, Juniperus ‘Blue Star’ (I think, it is cut off in the photo, loves the sun.)
- E1 Evaluator Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘E1 Evaluator’ (green ball to the left of the ladder, part sun to full sun, will maintain that ball shape.)
- Sedum button, Sedum dasyphyllum (the blue-green plant at the base of the ladder, flowers in summer, wait for new growth at the crown, then shear back.)
- E1 Evaluator Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘E1’ (another green ball to the right of the ladder, a rare, sloooow grower.)
- Scottish moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’  (front, cascading down, needs dividing every 2 or 3 years, can be grown in part sun or full sun.)
- Golden Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, Chameacyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’ (grows slowly to a nice upright, broad shape, can stay in that container without blocking the village for about 3 to 4 years.)

Mary Jane's Miniature Garden

Mary Jane’s Miniature Garden is so on-trend with the pretty blues! From NE.

People’s Choice: Mary Jane’s miniature garden is very on-trend with the pretty blue patio and pot. She could move this garden indoors for the winter if there is plenty of light for the boxwood tree. Outside, if the container is in full sun, the boxwood may get an orange cast to the leaves that is called “winter bronzing.” The green color returns quickly after the weather warms up in the spring. To avoid it changing colors, give the tree more shade. This pot will do well in part shade or even indoors in bright indirect light, with regular watering – let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering. This pot should be able to stay together for a couple of years before the ground cover, Blue Star Creeper, needs refreshing.

- Graham Blandy Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’ (tree in center, see above paragraph for growing tips. We normally don’t recommend a lot of fertilizer for our miniature garden plants, but the boxwoods will need some during the growing season.)
- Blue Star Creeper, Pratia angulata (underneath the tree, and I think she has the runners growing up the trellises. I’ve read somewhere that this can be grown indoor too.)

Debbie's Miniature Garden

Debbie’s Miniature Garden is in CA.

Honorable Mention: Debbie from CA gets a little clever with her plantings if I have identified them correctly! I’m was never good at “guess that plant” when I was working at the nursery but I’m going to make a stab at it now. This combo is great for warmer regions in full or part sun, the Cryptomeria needs regular water (but not wet) but the soil around the Jade will need to be left to dry in between watering sessions. To get around this, water only the Cryptomeria regularly and check the soil close to the Jade by poking your finger an inch down to make sure it is dry before watering.

From left to right:

- Jade Tree, Crassula ovata, (trimmed into a tree form)
- Japanese Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica (tree behind the bench, a baby conifer. Prune away bottom-most branches for more a tree look. Part sun, regular water.)
- Scottish moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’ (right-most plant, will need dividing every 2 to 3 years to keep it fresh looking. Part sun to full sun.)
- Fairy Moss in the Pond Azolla (also called mosquito fern, duckweed fern, water fern)
***Aggressive grower! illegal in TX and LA. Keep contained at all times. Do not dump in waterways. Please treat responsibly.***

Laney's Miniature Garden

Laney’s Miniature Garden.

Honorable Mention: Laney from MS has got it going on in this sweet scene for part sun/part shade location. The row of Monteray Cypresses along the backside can be sheared (in late winter) to slow down the grown and to shape it into a full hedge. Otherwise, most of the other plants are slow growing. This combination should be able to stay together for years with minimal maintenance by dividing the ground covers every 3 or 4 years.

Clockwise from top left:

- Monteray Cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’ (also called Lemon Cypress makes up the row of lime colored plants along the backside. Indoors or outdoors in more temperate climates, regular water dry out to damp in between.)
- Hokkaido Japanese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia ‘Hokkaido’ (behind the red arbor, part sun to full, cool sun, will drop it’s leaves in the fall, loves pruning, fragile.)
- Dwarf Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ (the perfect grass for the miniature garden. Loves shade, can tolerate sun and indoors too. Tiny lavendar flowers in the summer.)
- Baby Tears or Fairy Tears, Soleirolia soleirolii (the ground cover throughout the garden, an aggressive spreader in some areas but perfect for pots. Great for shade, part shade, indoors in bright indirect light.)

About Laney’s Pond plants: Laney layered in clear resin in the pond to get the koi at different levels. The lily pads with flowers are resin and were stuck into end layer. This took several days to do as each layer of resin had to dry before layering in another.

To see all the pictures of all the entries, visit last week’s blog here. It really is the variety that keeps us interested and growing in this wonderful new-again hobby!

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Results Are In! The Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

The Best Container for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest 2012

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of Rochester, NY made this little gem with her boyfriend, Wyatt. We (the judges) thought it particularly charming with the stairs going down to the grotto-like pond. (Made with Mini Patio Mix.) The plants are perfectly in scale and the pretty color scheme match the pot too. The whole “look” is softened by the tumbled, smooth-edged stones. Glenna and Wyatt – you are hired!

Results Are In! The Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

What a terrific contest this year! Thank you all for your hard work and your creative ingenuity. We had 20 entries from the US, one from Canada and one from India. The level of miniature gardening made the judging particularly difficult this year. Steve and I had to bring in a couple of gardener friends for some objective opinions because we just could not decide!

If you missed it, here’s last year’s contest and the halloween contest.

And the winners are:

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of NY (top)
Best Halloween Miniature Garden: Karen of MA
People’s Choice Award: Mary Jane of NE
Honorable Mentions: Debbie of CA & Laney of MS

It was great to see some out-of-the-box entries. We may have to open up another category for next year for more fun. Laney’s bedpan garden got the most groans and one “Eeeew!” Laney did reassure me that the bedpan was scrubbed before planting. But note that when I followed up with her, the plants were suffering in the metal bedpan so it was taken apart to save the trees. The rusted metal pan was harmful to the plant’s roots so don’t try that at home. ;o)

Here are all the winners followed by all the entrants. After getting this altogether, I think this is my most favorite blog of all time! Check it out:

Best Halloween Miniature Garden: Karen of MA

The Best Halloween Miniature Garden for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest 2012

This Pumpkin Village, made by Karen in MA, won Best Halloween Miniature Garden this year. We deliberated a bit as to whether it was a garden because it was labelled a “Pumpkin Village” but – it’s in a container and has a garden in front of the village. Can’t beat logic! This is so creatively fun with the all the row of houses. Great job, Karen!

People’s Choice Award: Mary Jane of NE

The People's Choice Award of the Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

People’s Choice Award goes to our second-time winner, Mary Jane from Nebraska. Very Pretty!! We just fell in love with the blue and white combo – just charming! We were glad to see “The People” loved it too! Congrats, Mary Jane!

Honorable Mention: Debbie of CA

Honorable Mention, Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Honorable Mention for the Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012 by Debbie from CA. This was so pretty, we had to make two Honorable Mentions! Everything works together in scale and color – the colors of the plants as well as the color of the accessories and the pot. The pond and swan create a peaceful effect; the patio on the backside adds another dimension. Very sweet, Debbie!

Honorable Mention: Laney of MI

Honorable Mention, Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This darling little gem won Honorable Mention by Laney from MI. It was in line to win the Best Container before being ousted at the last minute by Glenna. There are koi fish in the pond which Laney layered in with clear resin and finished it up by floating lily flowers on the very top. We loved how Laney built in the patio all around the pond with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. The “wall” of cypresses and trellises in the back work to contain the scene. The sweet alcove made with the red arbor holds a bather sculpture. The shoes and hat on the chair creates the story.

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

We loved this one too! From Laney of MI. It was the meandering path that led over the bridge and through the woods… Perfect eye candy, Laney!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This one may have opened up another category for next year. A miniature garden with an outhouse planted in a bedpan by Laney from MI. Hilarious, Laney, yet – well done!

And all the talented Entries:

Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

We loved the colors in this entry by Barbara of CA. The red bridge and trellis tied in nicely with the ponds and Asian seat and pots. Great work, Barbara!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A backyard garden by Lori of WA spreads out to a few different “rooms” in the garden. Love the addition of the miniature glass garden art and the lanterns. Way to go, Lori!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A spooky little Halloween garden by Lori of WA. It kept us looking for more and more details, lol! Terrific, Lori!

Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A nicely aged miniature garden entry by Lori of WA. The Green Carpet Juniper is beginning to look like the perfect tree in this cute little scene. The scale is perfect. Nice garden, Lori! (Psssst, the fish needs some water…. Lol! ;o)

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A garden getaway from Sonya of MI. What a peaceful scene – love how the hose is left out – very realistic! Lol! Wonderful, Sonya!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A serene scene from Sonya of MI. If the brick wall wasn’t behind it, one may just think it was a full-sized garden! Lovely work, Sonja!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This lovely garden scene was created by Sonya of MI. We love how the fence completes the back of the garden and contains the scene. The furniture in the front and the pot details keep the interest. Very pretty, Sonya!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A fairy garden by Michelle of TX and yes, it’s in a hot-pink wheelbarrow. Love how the path meanders from the pond to the arbor to the house to the…. and it’s portable! It’s a sweet scene, Michelle!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This cute indoor garden comes from Mabelle of CA. We loved how the taller trees created a canopy over the pond. Checkout the miniature potted plants – cute! Delightful, Mabelle!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

All the way from Canada! This sweet vignette by Mary is just charming with the ivy growing up the lighted gazebo. I’m coming over for tea, Mary! ;o)

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Brought to you by ‘Dawn’not So’patient’ from Facebook. A very cute fairy garden. We suspect she’s not from Facebook, but from someplace down south by the plants she’s used. Very enjoyable, Dawn!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

A charming miniature garden by Pat from MI. The colors of the accessories and basket tie it all together in a nice neat little scene. Adorable, Pat!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This very fun miniature garden comes from Jeeva from India. The greens and reds really work well together to create a rather exotic scene. Enchanting, Jeeva!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This pretty garden is from Hollie of KY. The tans, creams and whites contrast nicely with the greens of the plants and pot. A pretty scene, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

Our only Christmas entry by Hollie of KY. The wreath and garland are handmade by Hollie. (There weren’t enough entries for this holiday category, unfortunately.) Very creative, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

And our only in-ground entry too – by Hollie from KY. See the witch’s legs underneath the ivy on the right?  (There weren’t enough entries for this in-ground category, unfortunately.) Too fun, Hollie!

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

This miniature halloween scene comes from Deb from IN. Love the tiny gargoyles on the fence posts. Very scary, Deb!

Best Miniature Garden in a Container: Glenna of NY, close up view

Two Green Thumbs Annual Miniature Garden Contest, 2012

And lastly, another visit to our Best Miniature Garden in a Container Winner. Time to drink Alice’s elixir, shrink down…. and relax… Thank You, Everyone!

Wow, now you can see why it’s my favorite blog of all time! Thank you everyone for participating!

Show our winners some love and “Like” or share this with your friends, family and neighbors using the sharing buttons below.

Stay tuned to next week’s blog when we breakdown some of the gardens and go into detail on the plants and trees used here.

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How to Win a Miniature Contest with a Miniature Garden

Miniature Hobby Farm

This is our latest award-winning garden that won 2nd place at the Seattle Miniature Show last month. We’ve won many awards at this show, read on to find out how we do it.

How to Win a Miniature Contest with a Miniature Garden

Two Best of Shows, one 2nd Place, one 3rd Place and two Honorable Mentions – I could have sworn I have a 1st Place ribbon around here to complete the collection! Drat. I’ll have to enter again next year and be good, but not too good.

But, here’s how we do it. (Click on the pictures to zoom, use your back button to go back to the blog.)

1. Do something completely different. If you don’t know what to do – go to the show and poke around for the miniaturists who document the show, hopefully there pictures posted online somewhere for you to see. There’s a good chance that a living miniature garden has never been done before.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


2. Pick a theme. It can be a play on words – this one called “A Miniature Hobby Farm” as a play on the miniature hobby. Or, it can be something to celebrate locally, like this Miniature Houseboat and Garden that won Best of  Show years ago that we chose because it was sooo very Seattle.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


3. Make it involved. If it’s a dollhouse or a garden, create a human presence by placing accessories where you would have them in “real-life.” A pot of rocks overturned, the rake is left out from the last weeding and the hat is thrown on the chair. It creates an air of mystery because you can see the story, but the characters are gone. Some people like dolls in the scene, but for a contest, the dolls have be really good quality to win a contest – really good and no Barbies. You can substitute small plants for the real thing and get away with it – the individual Hen and Chick plants look like cabbages in the vegetable bed.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


4. Stay with one main scale but play with it when you can. Here, we made a miniature garden for the miniature garden. The Mini Patio Mix Kit holds the tiniest of pebbles in place with the least amount of effort. Tiny Sedum rootings make the perfect plant, 1/4″ scale garden art completes the 2″ wide miniature garden.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


5. Use the real thing. The beauty of a miniature garden is that most of it can be real. When we hauled this garden out of the show last month, one surprised miniaturist said, “That’s real water!” Yep, it is and it’s easier to do than the clear resin that the dollhouse miniaturists use. It’s also fun to watch the miniaturists poke their finger in the water to test to see if it’s resin or not. Use real straw for the chicken coop, real rocks for boulders, branches for logs, etc.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


6. Create vignettes anywhere you can without overdoing it. There would be a bunch of tools and hose somewhere in the garden anyway so grouping them together (like we do in the full-size world) it gives you a chance to create a mini scene within the garden. Normally, we would comb through the topsoil to take out the pieces of vermiculite but we thought it added to the country charm. Mushroom compost makes a miniature mulch – or sift potting soil down in a colander to get a mini mulch too.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


6. Animals help a lot. They add life to the scene and those little critters go straight to the heart of the judge. With the hobby farm theme, we delightfully used any animal we could – without going overboard, that is. Everybody had their place though. The dog didn’t chase the chickens nor the rabbits. The turtle stayed by the pond, the sheep was in the back field…

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


7. Use miniature garden art that is appropriate to your theme. A garden gnome suits the country theme to a tee. That’s the back of the fairy house to the right. Scale is critical in a miniature contest and the judges will get the ruler out so no compromises! It’s the main criteria for this type of contest.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


8. Create another dimension. It’s a miniature fairy house for the miniature garden. You can’t see the stepping stones that lead up to it but it sure is charming! The fairy house is placed around to the back of the pot. Miniaturists really love to take in all the little details so provide those details for them. Note the mossy pile of bricks to the left.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


9. Use all sides. We placed a sheep in “the back forty,” meaning the backside of the garden. Placing rewards for the viewers who look carefully at every detail – as would a miniature judge – increases the experience of viewing the garden. Don’t hesitate to create another place to sit that is hidden from the front. You can have a lot of fun with this but keep it in scale and make the tiny scene have a purpose, like you would in a full-scale garden.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


10. Get more detailed. Place little critters in the scene where they would naturally be. A dish with a couple of apples. (Cotoneaster berries!) A hanging basket full of greenery. As long as it’s put in place without over-crowding – AND it looks realistic – use it to your advantage.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


11. Creating layers in the garden will create the story. Not only is it a garden with “huge” trees and plantings, it has a vegetable garden, a cute patio area, a chicken coop and a pond area. As the viewer looks into the garden, the story unravels.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden


12. Add natural elements. Use rocks and small logs in and around the garden as you would see in the country. They can instantly create a sense of permanence to the garden like nothing else can. Snuggle the “boulders” behind trees, nest the “logs” off to the side of the garden and place stumps as if they were cut down to clear the land for planting.

Placement at the show. Ask the show promoter how your exhibit will be seen. If you have some details going on in the back, consider putting your garden on a turntable if your garden is displayed against a wall. (Find heavy duty turntables at your local hardware store.) If you are wary of some kid spinning the display too fast and wrecking it, note that miniature shows are for adults, not kids. There should be someone overseeing the exhibit area at all times but ask the show organizer if you are wary.

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More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Miniature Garden Plants

Mixing up the textures and the colors of the trees, shrubs and plants create an authentic garden scene in miniature.

More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Here are more of the many miniature garden images that we put aside for our upcoming book from Timber Press that got crunched in our computer, we couldn’t use these for print so here they are for you miniature gardening pleasure and inspiration. Notes about why we love these plants are in the caption below the image. See Part One from May, click here and we got a chance to highlight our Miniature Houseboat Garden in July, click here. 

We love junipers for the Miniature Garden!

A Miniature Beach Garden – the dwarf Junipers are excellent choices for hardy, full sun gardens.

Dwarf Junipers are just a pleasure to grow in the miniature garden. They come in many shapes and colors, they are really hardy, can take full sun and can tolerate a little dry soil too. Above, the upright column of green is a Miniature Juniper, the lower one on the right is the Mother Lode Juniper. The Mother Lode is technically a slow growing ground cover shrub but it makes a surprising reliable miniature garden plant that changes colors through the season. Trim any wayward branches when you see them.

Miniature Garden in half inch scale

Pair your dwarf Junipers with other plants that love full sun and well-drained soil for the best results.

The miniature bedding plants used there are mostly sedums. In the pots on the left, we used sedum cuttings and a baby Hen and Chick. On the right in the foreground is Elfin Thyme. All plants in this combo can be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. (The pots and bird feeder have been discontinued, unfortunately.)

Miniature Garden Plants

Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is a favorite for the miniature garden. Here it is paired with Red Thyme. (The chair has been discontinued.)

The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is one of the faster growing dwarf trees that we carry. Its the shape that really sells us – and it changes colors in the winter for added charm. Prune away the bottom branches to show some trunk to make it look like a tree. The marble and pebble patio is locked in with Mini Patio Mix, it’s a permanent fix to your miniature patio woes.

A Peaceful Miniature Garden Scene

A peaceful miniature garden scene. 

The Hinoki Cypress above is several years old and paired with bedding plants that enjoy regular water, and part sun (meaning a maximum 6 hours of direct sun.) There is a Fairy Vine (Muelenbeckia complex) growing up the trellis on the left, Platt’s Black Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) below it, and Dwarf Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) on the right. We used sedum cuttings for the wee pot.

Miniature Garden Vine and Trellis

A simple garden vignette can bring a little peace and tranquility indoors.

In this miniature garden, the miniature arbor becomes the focal point. Without the arbor, it would just be a plant in a pot. We matched the miniature pebbles with larger “boulders” to lend an air of permanence to this garden. This particular plant, the Fairy Vine, will last for a couple of years in this pot before needed more room or dividing. It will go through a dormant period in late winter and get a bit leggy, just cut it back and it should flush out in new growth in the spring. Fertilize in spring if it’s been in a pot for more than a year. Note that the Fairy Vine is a bit aggressive in some areas when planted in the ground.

Indoor Miniature Garden

Add a slice of the outdoors to you indoors this fall with an indoor miniature garden.

This Variegated English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Variagata) is a great little tree for indoors or out. The two tiny green shrubs in the front-most bed are the Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Compacta’) Boxwoods need plenty of light to grow indoors – with some direct light if possible. They are great for a bright shade spot outdoors too. Be careful to let the soil dry out to barely damp in between waterings to avoid overwatering. The pot is about 18″ in diameter. (The white bench and pots in this photo have since been discontinued.)

Miniature Garden Tree, Moonfrost Canada Hemlock

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a very reliable tree for the miniature garden.

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a wonderful little tree for the miniature garden. Prune up the bottom-most branches to show a bit of trunk to make it look like a tree. It can be grown in part shade to cool sun – in a pot or in the ground. The colors change throughout the seasons too: The celery green color in the summer turns to a mottled pink in the winter, the new growth in the spring is a creamy white. Trim the branches of the Moonfrost in late winter to keep the colors vibrant.

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