Updating Mother’s Day in the Miniature Garden = A Photo Essay

Miniature Gardening with Mom & MiniatureGarden.com

I planted this miniature garden back in 2015 especially for the Mother’s Day chapter for my second book, Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book. You can see how well the plants do over the years from the photos below.  The tree is a true miniature Canada Hemlock, the Abbott’s Pygmy. The green florets in the garden bed are Dwarf London Pride.

Updating Mother’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Come with us for a visit to our Mother’s Day miniature garden that was made just for the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book for the Mother’s Day chapter in 2015. The Canada Hemlock tree is about 12 years old now, and looking as elegant as ever!

The two Mother’s Day projects are Miniature Flower Arranging and a Hanging Flower Vase. If you want to get even more enjoyment out of your miniature gardening – all year ’round – check out the Prop Shop book. It’ll have you dreaming bigger and digging deeper into the world’s best hobby.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

One of the two projects from the Mother’s Day chapter from the Prop Shop book is Miniature Flower Arranging. It’s a fun way to appreciate nature’s details while you’re hanging out with your miniature garden.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

The second project is the Hanging Flower Vase. A fun project with polymer clay that can open up your creativity to do more and more….

Miniature Gardening with Mom from the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book

This is the original photo from the Prop Shop book taken by photographer, Kate Baldwin, in 2015. You can see there hasn’t been a lot of change in the tree, the Abbott’s Pygmy Canada Hemlock grows only on inch per year. The bedding plant is Dwarf London Pride, that is now taking over the garden bed but it’s easy enough to pinch or trim back.

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Dig Deeper with our New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book! The second book on this new hobby that will keep your creative juices flowing!

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

I swapped out some of the accessories this year to give the garden a fresh look for Mother’s Day. I used the same flowers as I did in the photos above.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

This selection of miniature flowers was taken from my own miniature and full-sized gardens. The flowers used in this blog are completely different than the list in the Prop Shop book, save for 3 of them. :O)

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

As with many of the projects in the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, once you learn the techniques and get the insight, you will be able to expand on any of the projects and make them your very own. It’s not a “one-and-done” book by any means!

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

The vase shown in the garden above is the same one in the lower-left corner. Adding bead and baubles to your hanging vases adds more to play with for you – and more interest and twinkle for the viewer!

Join our email list to get your FREE Mini Garden Gazette delivered to your inbox each Friday! We keep you up to date on your to-do list, inspire you with more ideas and you get ‘first dibs’ on anything new that we get in our Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center store!

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Simple Heat Zone Map is Handy for Internet Plant Shopping

MG-Spruce-Dilly-Pusch - 1

The Jean’s Dilly on the left, Pusch Norway Spruce on the right. Time to do a little cleaning up of the miniature garden beds now the the weather has warmed up.

Simple Heat Zone Map is Handy for Internet Plant Shopping

Do you buy plants on the Internet?

Are you wondering how you can know for certain what plants you can grow in your area? When you shop at your local, independent garden center, they have already done their homework on what plants will do well in your area. But if you’re shopping online, you need to know just a couple of things, to make sure the plants you are ordering will survive and thrive.

We know as gardeners, we have been trained to look at the cold hardiness of the plant to see if it can survive the winter but, for the warmer States, there are different concerns: the heat.

Harold, from Burbank, California, asked if the Dwarf Alberta Spruces (Picea glauca) can survive in a railroad garden that gets several 100 degree Fahrenheit days in the middle of tAd-FallPlanting - 1he summer. How do we find that out? By referencing the American Horticultural Society’s Heat Zone Chart, we find that the heat zones in Burbank (heat zone 8 ) are outside the recommended zones for the Dwarf Alberta Spruce (heat zones 6-1). From this research, we can figure out if he would have better success with a Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies, heat zones 8-1) instead. And yessiree, he will.

Now, because the Norway Spruces are on the edge of the recommended heat zone for Burbank, CA, and we know they like their roots to remain cool and damp, by planting it in part sun and adding a simple mulch each spring, Harold will have a much-easier time maintaining the dampness in the soil. The roots are kept happy, which will keep the Dwarf Norway Spruces happy, which keeps Harold happy, and everyone is happy! Hope you are too.

But I digress. Happily. :o)

Short Needle Mugo Pine. Pinus mugo 'Short Needle.'

A true miniature Mugo, the Short Needle is hardy – but not heat-hardy enough for Batan Rouga, LA.

Another example is from another miniature gardener from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lori asked whether the Mugo pines (Pinus mugo, heat zones 7-1) would work in her garden. The pines are really tough plants but, referencing the heat zone chart, they are just outside of the Louisiana heat zone 9, and are two-too many zones away to feel safe recommending them. There are just too many hot days for the Mugos to survive – in theory, however.

 

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We have the cold-hardy and the heat-hardy zones in all our plant listings in our online Miniature Garden Center Store!

That said, gardening is a personal and sometimes, a very arbitrary hobby. What works for one gardener may not work for another in the same area. In each and every State, there are many micro-climates and something as simple as a different garden bed on the shaded side of the house may be just fine for one conifer, but not for another type that isn’t as adaptable. In the hot states, the air-movement is also a factor so by spacing out the conifer, or thinning out the shrub a little, the air will be able to move through the tree, help it breathe and stay cool.

You can find out more about heat zones in The American Horticultural Society A-Z

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Find everything you need to know to get started in the hobby with the bestselling Gardening in Miniature book from the world’s top garden publisher, Timber Press!

Encyclopedia of Garden Plants where they have comprehensive listing of (almost) any plant grown in the States today and the heat zones for each plant are within the individual listing. It is a truly wonderful reference book for the dedicated gardener. Mine lives in my desk drawer, ready for action at the flick of my wrist. I’ve marked off a lot of the plants, full-size and miniature, in the book so I can one place that I can go to remember what’s what.

Online, you can find a more heat zone chart information from their website at: http://www.ahs.org/gardening-resources/gardening-maps/heat-zone-map. It used to be searchable, but if you are ordering plants from our store, you should find the heat zone information in each miniature garden plant listing.

As the golden rule suggests, choose right plant for the right place for the best success!

See what we have in our online Miniature Garden Center Store here.

Join our mailing list for more miniature garden goodness here! Scroll down a bit to get to the form.

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A Tax Guide for Gardeners

Gardeners pay their own taxes in their own way. Pictured above is one of our tax collectors. He is 1/2" tall.

Gardeners pay their own taxes in their own way. Pictured above is a miniature version one of the tax collectors. He is 1/2″ tall.

(This was first published in April 2009 in a “Garden for All” garden column for the West Seattle Herald. As with our tax code, it has been updated annually.)

A Tax Guide for Gardeners

This recent tax season spurred on yet another garden analogy from Yours Truly. I realized as gardeners we already pay taxes in our own way. Here’s what I have redefined for gardeners so far:

Gardener Tax Filing Status – Choose one only – and you know who you are.
1. New Gardener
2. Not-So-New Gardener That Only Knows What She Grows
3. Gardener That Really Knows Better But Does It Anyway

Plant Sales Tax – You know those plant sales where you overbuy, or buy on impulse? Ya, you know what I mean. There were some plants that were definitely on your list and you bought them for a particular spot – those usually go into the ground first. And there are the plants that you fell in love with at first sight, bought on impulse, and will “find a spot for it later.” It is some of this latter group that invariably perish and die, either through hesitation or unintentional neglect. These dead plants are the plant sales tax that we already pay gradually throughout the year.

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Garden Income Tax – You are very well acquainted with this one and you don’t even know it. This could easily be broken down into several sub-categories: Squirrel Tax, Mole Tax, Snail & Slug Tax, Aphid Tax… whatever you’d like to call it. We have to constantly give up portions our trees, plants, flowers and lawns all year ’round. I’ll never forget that day last summer when I saw Squirrel scamper away with my first fig from my new baby fig tree. – I was really taxed then! ;o)

Adjusted Garden Income – When you rescue that giant Zucchini from Squirrel, and just cut off the couple of bite marks at the end, the portion that is cut off should be subtracted from your Garden Income.

Shoulda-Used Tax – This tax could be called the “I Shoulda Tax” but the government would probably change the slang into something boring. The Shoulda-Used Taxes are the monetary equivalent of the chores that we put off because we like the looks and the rewards of a well-established perennial – only to discover a few weeks into the growing season that we should have divided it last spring. Ground cover Thymes are good examples, if they aren’t divided every few years, they get that gaping hole in the middle of the plant and start to look scraggly.

Other applications involve not thinning out your vegetable starts in time, and they get too crowded to grow and compromise the whole crop. Not digging and dividing your lily bulbs and they eventually flop over in the middle of the summer and smother your carpet of sedums. Or letting those weeds invade your miniature garden and destroying the look of your carefully planted ground covers. Now you can see how we pay our own garden taxes throughout the year.

Ignorance Tax
When you to adjust your gardening habits and garden bed location due to someone else’s ignorance and lack of caring. Multiply this total by howMiniature Gardening with Janit Calvo much work they create for you and divide by how many eyesores you have to contend with.

– Examples: When your neighbor plants trees that are not a good candidate for the spot and you have to watch a beautiful young Birch tree get hacked up because it’s growing into the power lines – and then look at it from your back deck forever. Or, his corkscrew willow is rapidly shading your well-established, 40 year old blueberries on your side of the fence. Ya, ignorance tax. It’s real.

Garden Plot-erty Tax – Debit the part of the garden we had to give up for anything non-garden, like a new extension on the house, a bigger deck, etc. And credit yourself when you add more garden bed space by taking away from your lawn.

Hopeless Investment Tax – Those wonderful flower bulbs we sink into the ground only to have Squirrel dig them up for his dinner. Or, in our Seattle climate, the bulbs that never come back because they rotted through our wet winters. Any extreme weather loss falls under this category. For any record-breaking extreme or natural disaster, multiply total by 100.

Organic Gardening Exemptions – Any type of organic gardening practices automatically get a tax exemption. Rain barrels, beehives, bat houses, bird houses, hedgerows, composting, rain-gardening etc. Bonus exemptions include boycotting any greedy corporation that is involved with any kind of environmentally-unconscious business practices.

Exercise Tax – After those long spring days in the garden when your body isn’t used to the bending and hauling… ugh! We should get a tax break on Epsom salt, bubble bath and wine.

Enter total on Schedule G, Form 8888abc, line 84.3d. ;o)

Got a garden tax to share? Leave it in the comments below. And someone call the IRS – maybe we can get a better tax break next year.

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Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden

Bursting buds on a wee Canada Hemlock. Tsuga canadensis 'Loowit'

From the Archives, April, 2009: Bursting buds on a wee Canada Hemlock. Look to your miniature and dwarf conifers for proof that spring is finally here!

Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden.

I’ve got my fleece hoodie on, my wool socks and a hat – and I’m inside in my office. Did someone forget to order spring? I’m itching to get out in my garden and get growing! The only upside is that the plants don’t care and our spring flowers are pushing through the cold spring temperatures.

So, what to do? We need to appease our inner gardener. It’s spring. Here are some ideas to get you gardening.

 

The Miniature Garden Society - it's where craft and garden meet!

Rain is Good

It’s really not so bad. Don your rain gear and get out in it. With your “space-suit” on and an iPhone playing your favorite music or podcast, you instantly create your very own bubble and can have a lovely time getting some much-needed chores done. Want to make the world go away? This is how you do it. Lol!

TIPS:

  • Have a couple pairs of garden gloves handy so when one pair gets wet, you can change into dry ones, and keep going.
  • Don’t work the soil when it’s completely wet, you’ll damage all the microcosms and air-pockets in the soil and make mud.
  • You can always pull weeds and clean-up your walkways and driveway.
  • Prune your shrubby perennials. If your trees are still dormant and not showing any new buds at all, you can still prune. If you have any questions regarding any plants from our Miniature Garden Center store, email us.
  • You can clean out and organize the garden shed. There’s nothing like puttering in the garden shed or on your porch with the rain pattering on the roof.
  • Clean-up your containers – or let the rain do it. Put your empty pots out in the rain to get washed, and take a scrub brush to them if needed.

 

 

Divide and Share

This cold spring has given us a little more time to dig up and divide some of our perennials, if you haven’t already done so. Ground covers follow this general rule: the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap. By dividing your ground covers in your miniature garden every three years, they’ll stay in check.

TIPS:

  • Plant any extra divisions in different parts of the garden to create a more cohesive, overall design.
  • Watch out for the dormant plants that you can’t see yet! Refer to your photos from last summer so you don’t accidentally dig it up or bury it.
  • When you do replant, take care to mix up the foliage textures a bit. Contrast leaf textures and match or compliment the leaf-color. If all the foliage is the same size the garden bed, full-size and in miniature, will look too sketchy. By mixing-up small leaves with big leaves, and the conifer’s needles with the unusual foliage of a Hinoki cypress, for example, you’ll have professional looking garden design.
  • Share extra plants with your neighbors, make another miniature garden, or plant them up in pots to donate to a charity plant sale later in the season.
create-happy-moments2

More from the archives, April, 2009. I can lead a snail to water, but I’ve never seen him drink…!

Armchair Miniature Gardening

There is always virtual miniature gardening too! Here is a bunch of inspiration at your fingertips:

Like this? Join us and thousands of other like-minded miniature gardeners for your weekly Mini Garden Gazette. It’s free! Sign up here: TwoGreenThumbs.com

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Miniature Settings from the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Nancy Grube’s garden was my Best of Show. I guess I’m just not understanding the criteria because this was, by far, the best Miniature Settings entry in this exhibit in my opinion. Nancy’s focus was on the plants, here stellar-eye for scale and details were just as focused.

Miniature Settings from the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Here are the Miniature Settings from this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show in case you missed it. You can probably tell my ‘Best of Show’ by the number of photos below – it was Nancy Grube’s ‘The Old Mill Stream,’ which certainly checked all my boxes. Deb and Jim Mackie’s display, ‘The Call of the Siren,’ was stunning as usual. I imagine she made the mermaid and the horse, and her seascape was delightfully awesome. Midge Ingersoll’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ is up there in my books as well. She did a fantastic job including a boat, dock, shed and garden all in one tiny scene. But, all-in-all, it was Nancy’s trees and garden that did it for me in ‘The Old Mill Stream.’

See all the exhibits below. I won’t do any individual comments as the bulk of this exhibit wasn’t very impressive compared to previous years. You can compare them too, here are the exhibits from 2014 here, and here – and 2015 is here.

What Does the Best of the Best Mean?

My question remains how the other types of exhibits within the huge Philadelphia Flower Show seem to attract high-quality work, but this Miniature Settings exhibit does not. It’s first-come-first-serve to participate, which is apparently how the rest of the show’s exhibits operate, but where is the quality and the expertise? See the comparison from 2014 here, and here – and 2015 is here.

I also realize that it may not easy as it may seem. There was at least one other IGMA-level miniaturist in this group besides Deb Mackie – or at least I thought so – but it doesn’t show and leaves us wanting for more. (IGMA.org)

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They built new cases for this year’s show that were lighter in color – apparently the miniature details show better when the frames are darker, so I’m not sure how that detail was missed. They were hard to view with the glare on the windows too. And forget about trying to get a good photo without the glare – it was impossible to figure out with a long line-up of people behind you waiting for you to move along…

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I think I’ve posted all the entries in the order these exhibits were presented at the show. You can see the name of the exhibitor, the judge’s comments, the ribbons that were handed out to every exhibit as well as the plant lists. Everyone who didn’t win, got an Honorable Mention ribbon! Lol!

I was initially under the impression that the chosen award for best of show this year was because it was made by a middle school garden club – but the judging is supposedly done blind. (Judging blind means they don’t see the name of the artist when they judge it.) So, that blew that theory… You can see the big purple ribbon on it in the photos below.

Note that this is very different from our miniature gardening and should not be confused with one another. Here’s more on the difference. Most of the plants they use in their displays are tender tropicals, very young perennials or both – with some conifers included for structure.

Let me know what YOU think in the comments below. What’s your best of show? What do you think compared to the previous year’s that I linked above? (Any name-calling or overly negative comments will be edited or deleted altogether – this Mini Garden Guru blog is beholden to no sponsor, no club nor any other company but my own.)

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10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the US

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The Wonder of Garden Shows: the Philadelphia Flower Show.

10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the U.S.

I just got back from the huge Philadelphia Flower Show last Monday and I’m still reeling about the show. It was awesome. This is my third time going to this show and it truly is the best garden show in the United States hands-down. Here are 10 reasons why.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

I missed getting this volunteer’s name but her hat is divine…

1. It’s All About Volunteers

The Philadelphia Flower Show is hosted by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and is completely organized and driven by volunteers. The simple fact that it’s built by volunteers takes the pressure off the money and puts the focus back on the plants, education and gardening.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

All protein, no carbs! Lol! This show doesn’t have any filler-booths with food or junky home decor. The booth space is always sold out too.

2. It’s All About the Plants

95% of the show is about gardening, plants and the environment – including the marketplace. You won’t find rows and rows of food vendors hawking their mustard, nor a whole sections of shabby-chic indoor decor just to fill up the booth space.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Collaborating with other professionals and businesses forces them to come up with more and more creative solutions each year. This show just keeps getting better and better.

3. They Collaborate

As you walk through all the exhibits and competitions you notice that all kinds of schools, universities, garden clubs – and kid’s garden clubs, societies, museums, art galleries, small businesses plus a large number of visual artists and floral designers are involved throughout the show in many different ways. It seems no one is pigeon-holed into only having one way to participate.

The huge garden displays are built by many different companies to create wonderfully creative displays that are dramatic and memorable. There were a number of displays representing different countries as well. How refreshing!

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Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

One of the many different displays of artwork made from the garden! How awesome is this necklace??

4. They Think Outside the Garden Bed

Among the garden displays are many different categories of garden art made for the garden and from the garden. Sculptures, paintings, abstract arrangements of all shapes and sizes, Ikebana, and jewelry – my favorite – everything is made from nature but it never looks like it!

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There is always a strong art-element to this great show. This is just a small part of the 1280 square foot mural that was in the middle of the show.

5. They Love Art

OMG. I can’t say enough about how the PHS and the city of Philadelphia work together to promote the arts. Not only does it make a great flower show, it makes for a great city too. Giant tulips sticking out of buildings and huge bronze sculptures – art is everywhere in Philly!

6. It’s Very Accessible

The Philly Flower Show is held in the Philadelphia Convention Center which is right on top of train station. Easy for everyone.

7. They Give Back

Proceeds from this show drives the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s “green” projects for around the greater Philadelphia area. A great example is their Tree Tender Program  plants over 2000 trees annually, since 1993.

8. They Keep Growing After the Show

The PHS has a very long reach into garden education and outreach programs that happen throughout city and state for the rest of the year. They have community gardens, parks, public landscapes that involve thousands of city residents “to make the city a more livable, likable and vibrant place to live and work.”

This year the Philly Flower show added a “Water Summit” to their agenda that was open to everyone – and for anyone. They brought in leading environmentalists and industry experts to educate us on real-world solutions to the issues we face in keeping our fresh waters clean and drinkable.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

My Best of Show pick from the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit. The artist is Nancy Grube.

9. They Honor Different Ways to Garden

Within the show itself, the different classes of competitions help to remind us of the many different types of plants and trees that we can grow AND they encourage and inspire us to do so. But, more importantly from my perspective, they include our beloved Miniature Gardening. They have two classes of miniature gardening PLUS the Miniature Setting Exhibit which is one of the best attended exhibits with a constant line up from the time the show opens right to when it closes.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The PHS honors many types of gardening. This is just a fraction of it – the Wardian case competition.

10. It’s Not About the Money

It’s about community, education, the environment, art and gardening. Sure they need to make money to keep it going, but that’s not the focus – the people are. Yes, there is a marketplace within the show for shopping, but most of the floor is devoted to the exhibits with a few stages for education sprinkled throughout the floor plan.

And, its official, I’m jealous. Lol!

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There were a lot of lovely displays by floral designers too.

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The garden displays kept going and going… it’s always lovely and inspiring!

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

While some of the displays were totally out of the box, other displays could easily be replicated at home. Very inspiring!

 

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The Day the Earth Shook: The Nisqually Earthquake, 20 Years Later

The original Miniature Garden that lasted for 3 years before the container fell apart.

The original Miniature Garden that lasted for 3 years before the container fell apart. The scene is 10 1/2″ wide and was 1/6 scale.

The Day the Earth Shook: the Nisqually Earthquake, 20 Years Later

“You told me to call if I had any earth-shaking news.”

That was what I said to my father after calling him in Toronto to check-in after the Nisqually earthquake here in Seattle in 2001.

Twenty years ago today, I was at Swanson’s Nursery where I was just offered my first legal job in the US. I was thrilled. I was very eager to learn more about the flora of the Pacific Northwest after working for the past year under the table as a gardener, until I was able to get my green card.

After the interview, I went to check out the plants and that’s when the earth shook.

My first thought, “Wow, that’s a big truck driving by!” as I watched a big truck drive by – but the shaking didn’t stop.

Kim (I think her name was Kim, she always had popcorn for lunch) ran out and yelled at us to get away from the greenhouses. I did, not knowing what else to do of course, it was my first earthquake.

And then the shaking stopped. I was officially unnerved and felt that the earth could begin shaking again at any moment. It’s quite disconcerting when the ONLY reference point that we have here on earth, moves.

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Earth-Shaking for Major Industries

But what happened that day was really earth shaking for the garden, miniature, craft and gift industries because Swanson’s Nursery is where I discovered miniature gardening. It was Swanson’s where I found the miniature and dwarf conifers that spring and paired them with ground covers to build my first miniature garden.

It was at Swanson’s that I showed the “Original Miniature Garden” photo (above) to Candy, one of the walking plant encyclopedias that worked there, but she passed it back without thought and said, “That’s nice, Janit,” not even realizing that the scene was in miniature. (One of my ah-ha moments!)

I stayed there for about 3 1/2 years while getting Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center up and running. I saw the seasons change in the perennial department, then I was promoted as assistant manager in the home accessory department until my manager found out how adept I was and got rid of me to protect her job. During these years, I worked weekends at garden markets and touristy craft markets spreading the joy of gardening in miniature. Eventually in 2004 I was able to start selling online and could quit my “day-job.”

As the Internet grew, eventually I did find someone else that was into gardening in miniature in the 1950s, based in the UK, but by that time, my history of miniature gardening was well on its way to being a major trend for the garden, miniature, craft and gift industries. An earth-shaking trend, I might add, as these industries are forever changed. We now have a new way to craft with miniatures and plants that is very personal, accessible to everybody, sustainable and renewable, and very, very creative. Have you planted your miniature garden yet? Won’t you join us?

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