Growing Your Own World with Miniature Gardening
Subscribe to this blog up on the right ~~>
Subscribe to this blog up on the right ~~>
With the surge in interest in miniature gardening over the past couple of years it has been interesting to witness how the many different forms of gardening in miniature have been embraced and have become a part of our everyday lives.
Terrariums, dish gardening or simply a set of small potted herbs on the windowsill are all ways of growing small.
Miniature, fairy and gnome gardens have also become increasingly popular for a growing number of gardeners too. For many, these types of gardens now have a permanent place in the garden, but has anyone ever stopped define them?
What about fairy gardening? What is that? Isn’t that miniature too? And what is a gnome garden anyway?
Here is a brief overview to give you either an understanding, or a jump-off point for more ideas you can add to on your own. (And yes, I actually have thought about it extensively over the last few years, what else is a professional miniature gardener to ponder? ;o)
What is it - A miniature garden is defined by the use of naturally dwarf and miniature plants and in-scale miniature garden accessories that replicate a scaled living model of our full-sized gardens.
Where planted – In containers or in-ground.
Main plants used – Miniature and slow-growing dwarf forms of trees and shrubs. Low-growing plants no more than 3” tall, some flower spikes excluded.
Size or scale used – Dollhouse miniature scales, railroad garden scales and sometimes Barbie or GI Joe scale.
Main themes or accessories – None, any theme can be used.
Identifying characteristics – All trees, plants, patios and accessories are realistic and perfectly in scale with each other.
What is it - A fairy garden is a garden created and nurtured for fairies to live in.
Where planted – Most often in-ground where fairies would have access. Container fairy gardens are what we know as hotels or condos
Main plants used – Any flowering or herb plant. Most trees, flowering shrubs and hedgerows.
Size or scales used – Fairies are approximately 3 ½” to 4” tall, not including the wings.
Main themes or accessories – Tea parties, birthday parties or any seasonal celebration. Furniture and garden structures are normally made from twigs or other naturals but there are many exceptions.
Identifying characteristics – Look for the furniture set up on the patio, fairy houses or fairy doors in tree trunks or along the side of fences or buildings. Most herb and flower gardens have fairies too.
What is it – A gnome garden that is any garden taken care of by gnomes.
Where planted – In-ground.
Main plants used – None.
Size and scales used – Gnomes range in size depending upon where they live.
Main themes and accessories – Anything garden. Accessories include wheelbarrows and garden tools.
Identifying characteristics – Look for the gnomes in the corners of the garden bed, beside tree trunks or peeking out from behind shrubs. Note the odd little pot and shovel that they often leave behind.
With using two very general words “miniature” and “gardening” to identify an emerging hobby, it is no wonder that the definition is vague and often leaves the listener begging for more details.
I hope this helps you identify your type of miniature gardening. For more information on anything true miniature garden, look forward to the release of “How to Create Living Miniature Gardens.” Please sign up for our mailing list for our Mini Garden Gazette, the release date and fireworks here.
Sources for this article: Ten years of professional experience in the miniature garden industry and the fairies and gnomes in my garden. ;o)
Checkout the your favorite Miniature Garden Center here.
Subscribe to this blog over there on the right! ~>
These are a Few of My Favorite Miniature Garden Things
(Sung to the tune ‘My Favorite Things’)
Raindrops on spruce needles and Fiskars in my mittens
Bright miniature daisies and a hobby from Britain
Tiny trees in containers and planted with zing
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored containers and matching mini conifers
Friendly, warm customers, fellow miniature gardeners
Silver white winter that melts well before spring ;o)
These are a few of my favorite things
Groups of mini plants all ready for planting
Miniature beach gardens with scenes that are enchanting
Garden gnomes, elves and tiny fairy rings
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the news stinks
When the day goes bad,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.
Tanoshii kurisumasu wo!
Ii holide eximnandi!
Beannachtaí na Féile
And have a wonderful New Year!
From Janit and Steve Calvo,
Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center
I’ve been working on this trend for well over 10 years now and it was the missing link in my research – just how young can children be to get them out in the garden playing with miniatures safely? My fear was the small accessories the little ones could easily plop in their mouths.
Then lo and behold, this blog popped up on my radar the other day that shows how a Mom put together a fairy garden camp (think dinosaurs, farm or safari animals for the boys) for her preschool group. It is finally safe to say that anyone from 4 to 104 years old can garden in miniature.
The camp was four days long and three hours per day, so she also filled it up the schedule with stories, songs, nature walks and games to keep those little attention spans occupied when they weren’t working on the gardens. (Excuse the “she,” I can’t find her name on the blog.)
Using the simple ideas and some pre-made items that her sons helped her craft beforehand, the group built and decorated a mini garden themselves – and all are truly cute and unique. It was a great idea to stretch it out for all four days and it paid off in the planning and design. All of them look well thought out with the wonderful details that make a mini garden enchanting.
Take a look at the blog and make sure you click through to part two and three because those are the chapters that show and tell you how to do it. She’s done a great job of documenting and sharing too. Come back here for some more pointers after.
For the containers, she uses saucers and lines the bottom with gravel for drainage – which really turns them into dish gardens if they don’t have holes for the water to escape. If they are meant for indoors, be sure to put a ¼” layer of charcoal on top of the gravel before the soil goes in, to keep the smell of stagnant water away. Be careful of dish gardens outside as the rain may drown the plants.
If you want to get some more life out of the child’s fairy garden, select plants that require the same light and watering to get the best results. The environment the garden will live in – inside or out, shade/indirect light or full sun, water-loving or dry – and the watering requirements are the important things to pair up for a healthy and longer living mini garden scene.
When working with a group of kids, get all the same plants with the same needs or you’ll drive yourself nutty. For example, get a series of indoor plants that all like regular water and bright, indirect light. I know this adds work and time to your already busy agenda but the garden will have a better chance of survival this way. Your local garden center will be glad to help and, with several weeks notice, they can get any number of plants for you.
Besides saucers, think of pots, baskets, wagons or trays for the kids to build a mini garden in out of doors, I’m sure they’ll get a huge kick out of anything they can carry or wheel around.
Now you can introduce the young ones to gardening, teach them, get their imagination working and keep their hands busy all at the same time. I don’t think it can get better than that.
See the Fairy Camp blog here.
Visit our main website and gallery pages here.
Shop our online store here.
Subscribe to this blog for more informative fun and get notices sent right to your inbox. Just fill in your email address in the form on the right side of this page.
Tweet this below!
This spring got off to a bumpy start for the vegetable garden as we moved home, business, garden and nursery in the middle of June. I love how most of the plants caught up on their growing schedule though. I don’t think we’ll have enough season left for the mini bell peppers and the baby eggplant to fruit, but here’s hoping – it was a cold spring so just maybe the summer weather will continue into September.
The miniature vegetable seeds came from Seedman.com. I’m happy with all of them except I need to figure out what the Sweet Baby Corn is doing!!
Perhaps it’s the full moon. Or maybe it’s the change in weather. It could be economy. Maybe because it’s autumn. Maybe it’s the news I watched on TV this morning. Maybe it’s….
…maybe it’s just me.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just to take off for a day, a week, or two, whenever you like? For some of us, that idea can be as far away as ….. (birds tweeting in the distance, a crow caws….)
So, let’s bring it back here.
Let’s bring it to right now.
Where is your happy place?
Here’s how we did a quick change from Halloween to Holiday Haven, using (you guessed it) a miniature garden:
We took a centerpiece that was made for Halloween – it was a miniature greenhouse carved out of ghost pumpkin where we had cut the pumpkin in half, and carved windows into the top half to make it look like a greenhouse, more or less. We planted some young starts, moss and grasses that love to be indoors, into the bottom half. We added couple of mini pumpkins, a tea light, a wee bench to sit on, and a couple of tombstones and created a very haunted mini garden for a centerpiece for the Halloween table.
And now, we want to turn that into a happy place, and pack up the Halloween décor until next year.
(Keep in mind that this is planted in a pumpkin and will only last a couple of weeks. Keep on a plate and it cool.)
We took out the tea light out and put in a wee pool with that lovely Caribbean blue color. Added miniature garden art: a rusted fish stake. Poured a beach on one side of the pond with some superfine sand. Borrowed an idea from Thryza (the Terrarium Artist in my previous blog post), and sprinkled in some tiny beads to add some sparkle and zest to the scene. Found some tiny shells – and oh, don’t forget a log to sit on!
Ahhhh, now isn’t that better? Now, you can escape anytime you like.
- Variegated Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’
- Miniature Sweet Flag, Acorus gramineus ‘Pusillus’
- 2 different mosses found growing on soil.
Find more miniature garden plants here.
Find spooky Halloween accessories here.
Find all your miniature garden plants and accessories here.
I had the opportunity to speak with fellow miniature gardener Kathy from Pennsylvania. Kathy has been a customer of mine forever – literately! She found my first eBay store back in 2003 and has since got hooked on miniature gardening – and the wee conifers too.
Kathy took the time to speak with me about my new You Pick It Miniature Garden Kits yesterday. Here’s a transcript of the fun and informative interview that I would like to share.
“Well hello, Kathy! How’s it growing?”
“Hi Janit, good to talk to you!”
“I noticed that you bought two of the new You Pick It Kits yesterday. I thought you were an old hat at this stuff and wouldn’t need my kits!?”
She laughs, “Ya, I know. But you put it together so nicely, that all I had to do was choose one of each, and I had a complete mini garden. It took no time at all, and everything was there, waiting for me. All the plants were figured out too! And then it was so fun, that I did it again.”
So, let me ask this, since you’re a seasoned mini gardener. Are you going to make two miniature gardens out of these, or “kit-bash” them, so to speak?
[Kit bashing means that you buy a kit for the contents to be used in another project, not to put the kit together as it was originally meant to.]
“Ha! You caught me, Janit! One is for gift that I want to make for friend that keeps complaining that she doesn’t have a garden because she lives in a condo. The other kit, ya, I’m going to break it up and use the accessories for one mini garden and the plants for my big fairy garden I planted out back. It was such a good deal with including the shipping in the price too, Janit.”
“What did you like most about the You Pick It Mini Garden Kit?”
“I liked how all the plants were figured out for me. I put the “sun tree” with the “sun ground cover” like you always say to do. And there were a couple of choices too – so I could really make it my own thing. You’ve really got something here, Janit, a child could order this, it’s so easy!”
“And what do you do with all your miniature gardens that you make?”
“I give them as gifts to people. I make small ones, like one of your blogs said, to make small ones as hostess gifts – they are always surprised too. And, I make some for my church auction sale every spring and fall. They always do well and now that they know me, and my work, the bidding keeps going up year, after year! I just have to laugh. Oh, and I have a bunch around my deck here too. I like to watch them age and grow in. Some I’ve had since finding you, what, six years ago now?”
“Yes, it was. We had our fifth birthday last November.”
“Oh that’s right, that was fun! You know, my husband is now thinking of a railroad garden now – I told him to stop eyeballing my mini conifers and get his own!”
“Ha, it sounds like you guys are having way too much fun! So, one last quick question, what is your most favorite conifer?”
“You know that Jean Iseli Dwarf Hinoki Cypress is just a crowd pleaser! I’ve had it for years and when I got it, it was a little ball. Now, my husband calls it the big little tree! It has a little trunk on it and the branches go out like a real tree. It’s maybe eight inches tall now.”
“Aren’t they just fun to grow?”
“The whole idea is fun to grow, Janit!”
… spoken like a true miniature gardener…
Go on, you probably have one by now.
It’s so hot; the farmers are feeding their chickens’ crushed ice so they won’t lay hardboiled eggs.
Man, was it hot.
I guess I’m a “heat wimp.” But if I’m going to tolerate that kind of heat, I want to be on vacation next to swim-able water. (Quite frankly, my only pet peeve with this area of the world – the water is too dang cold!)
It’s so hot, the trees were whistling for the dogs.
And I’ll never say I want to live in Arizona again. I’ll never curse those in between days again when it is cloudy and overcast. Remember when it wasn’t too hot, nor to cold? Do you remember those days?
It’s so hot; birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.
This umbrella trick (shown above) worked out well for our recent heat wave here in Seattle. Our big, in-ground miniature garden can normally tolerate the full sun but, with the extreme heat this week, we knew our prized trees just weren’t used to it.
Besides the risk of getting scorched by the sun, we were afraid the ground might dry out too often, and too fast, and put undue stress on the plants.
So, we placed an old market umbrella to shade our miniature garden from mid-morning to late afternoon to give the conifers a break. We took the umbrella off in late afternoon, and replaced it the next morning while the temperatures were in the triple digits. It worked like a charm.
It’s so hot; the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.
You can also use this trick for new mid-season plantings if you’re in a climate that will let you do this. I’m not sure I’d recommend planting anything for you miniature gardeners in the southern states right now, but, by using the umbrella trick and sheltering the planting from the extreme sun, you can get away with planting in the summertime.
The idea is to mimic spring, or fall, weather by shading the new plantings from the midday to late afternoon sun. Again, take the umbrella off in late afternoon, and replace it mid morning so the plants can get some light. (Note that this is for full sun plants.)
It’s so hot the cows are giving evaporated milk.
And when watering your new plantings, keep on top of it – but don’t over-water. Follow the watering schedule for the plants. Some plants like to dry out to just barely damp between watering and others like to dry out more between the watering.
Containers, of course, can be done anytime! Again, be conscious of that hot, late afternoon sun, as the pot will dry out too often and stress out your plants.
It’s so hot; I put the umbrella in the mini garden for shade.
Visit our World Headquarters to sign up for your FREE newsletter, the Mini Garden Gazette, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center
By Janit Calvo
(From April 5, 2009)
I’ve been participating at the Seattle Miniature Show for over 5 years now – first exhibiting, then vending and exhibiting. It’s always interesting to meet the different faces that make up this biannual show and, invariably, I always learn something new.
The Seattle Dollhouse Miniature Show has been going for decades and the current owner, Kristine Hill, has brought the show to the Seattle Center for the past 11 years. In doing so, she has attracted a wide variety of miniaturists to the show – some that have been in the business for well over 30 years. It is always interesting to talk to these dealers and you can bet that they have some interesting stories to tell too.
But there was one thing that lodged in my mind after the going to dinner with a couple of these gurus, something that we all know but needs some pointing out to see: Miniatures, as a group, is the biggest little industry in the world. Let me count the ways.
There are dolls of all sizes, dollhouses of all scales, model trains (indoor and out), Barbie and all her cohorts and copycats, GI Joe and his mimics, toy soldiers, Matchbox cars and the like… oh, I know I’m going to miss some. And all of these product lines have the clothes, accessories and furniture to go with the idea.
What happens when a movie, pop star or television program gets merchandised? They make a doll out of the main characters and the toy props to go with it.
What do filmmakers need to help bring the project in on budget? Model makers to recreate the scenes in miniature, to help fill in the long shots and expansive scene shots. Tim Burton’s latest movie was done in miniature, Coraline, it was made in 1/6 scale which is pretty close to the Barbie scale, and right on the GI Joe scale.
Architects and generals have used miniatures to design their buildings and plan their war strategies for centuries. Chess is made up of miniature figures.
Artists and designers of all types often use a maquette to troubleshoot the project before making it in the life size – clothes, scenes, products, displays, installations and sculptures. It is interesting to note that some artists only sculpt small in clay or foam – it’s the foundry that recreates it in a huge scale for the outdoors.
Jewelry, games, computers, cars, and mini bikes … I could go on but you get the gist.
Who would have thought that we are all miniature lovers? You can have it all in small…