Dog Days of Summer Sale at Your Miniature Garden Center!



Dog Days of Summer Sale at Your Miniature Garden Center!

The the dog daze of summer upon us, we are taking a break this week too. Orders are still being shipped as they come it. We may delay shipping plants for a day or two to avoid the box sitting somewhere strange over the weekend. Please email us for a faster response here.

Please enjoy some eye candy on our Flickr page:

Please enjoy a rare, surprise sale for your Miniature Garden Center Store!

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We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

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5 Ways to Start Your Own Miniature Garden

How to Start a Miniature Garden

There are many reasons to grow your own world – they are fun to give and fun to get! This scene is approximately 10 inches wide.

5 Ways to Start Your Own Miniature Garden

I’ve made well over 1,300 miniature gardens since I started this business in 2001, [Update to 2015: we are over 3,000 gardens, in-ground and in containers.] and I have found that there are a number of ways to begin the journey of creating your own wee world.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Choose your site for your mini garden

Right plant, right place applies in miniature as well. Where is your miniature garden going to live: In ground or in a container? Indoor or out? Then figure out what kind of light does that spot have: Full shade? Morning sun? Then choose the plants that will do well in that environment. (Note that indoor plants are tropical plants that like to stay 60 degrees or above all year ‘round. No, you can’t grow an outdoor plant indoors.)

See our miniature garden plants sorted by zone here.

2. Choose your favorite tree

If you have the luxury of planting anywhere, checkout the miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs that are ideal for miniature gardening, and pick a tree that sings to you or tweaks your interest. Some trees can be “limbed-up” to show some more trunk so it looks more like a tree than an shrub. Choose your “mini bedding plants” (a.k.a. ground covers) by matching the same light and water requirements as the tree. If you haven’t been bitten by the miniature conifer bug yet, be warned: they are both numerous, gosh-darn cute and easy to grow.

See our miniature plants sorted by light here.

3. Choose your favorite theme

Forest? Backyard? Formal? Rustic? Re-creating your grandmother’s life-sized garden in miniature? While there may not be an exact miniature version of the full-size tree, you can more-than-likely find a similar, slow-growing, small foliaged tree that is similar in growth shape. Use images of life-sized gardens to help kick-start your brainstorming session and Google it. Look for iconic items that will weather well, classic a rose arbor or grandma’s favorite garden chair, to add to your miniature garden rather than clutter the small scene with tiny details that will get lost in the living miniature garden.

See our Theme Department here.

4. Choose a container

Sometimes the container just beckons to have a wee world in it. Let the colors and the personality of the pot help or dictate the mini garden theme. An unglazed, terra cotta pot would be the perfect pot for a rustic backyard garden-theme. A big, black, glazed, ceramic pot would look smashing with a formal-style miniature garden planted with a Blue Pygmy Juniper, Hens & Chicks and Wooley Thyme for the understory that all enjoy the full sun and tolerate the odd dry soil.

See all our miniature garden trees and plants for miniature gardening here.


Your Miniature Garden Center

5. Try a complete kit.

I have a variety of Miniature Garden Kits in my online store, to suit a number of different environments. They come complete with full color instructions that guide you through the simple steps to create a mini garden in a container, and it can be applied to an in-ground garden too.

The kits come with a mini or dwarf tree, matching bedding plants (ground covers), my own Mini Patio Mix Kit, rocks or brick sheets for easy install, and miniature garden accessories to finish off your wee landscape. Once you do this kit, you’ll know how to do it again and again.

Miniature gardens make great gifts for that hard-to-shop for person in your life, hostess gifts, centerpieces for family gatherings or weddings. They do very well at charity auctions and raffles too.

There are just as many reasons to grow your own world, as there are reasons to live in this one. Enjoy your mini garden journey and adhere to the most important, number one rule of gardening in miniature: Have fun and grow your own world.

Need more?

Visit the source of the miniature garden hobby here.
Visit America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center’s here.

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Plant an Effortless Understory for Your Miniature Garden Bed

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

The White Diamond Sedum is named after the way it captures water in its rosettes – the droplets look like diamonds. It’s deciduous in that it dies back a bit in the winter months. A truly charming sedum. 

Create an Effortless Understory for Your Miniature Garden or Fairy Garden Bed

I just love that word, “understory.” It sounds so mysterious to me like it should be some sort of literary reference to a subplot in storytelling. Understory. Whoa. Lol! Google’s definition is “a layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest” and, for us miniature gardeners, it’s what makes a miniature garden come alive and look realistic, like a true garden in miniature.

When you start to think about your miniature garden bed, it follows the same rules in full-size gardening. Start with an anchor plant, this is usually a tree or three, and fill in the understory with layers of shrubs and plants to form a wall of texture, color and green loveliness. Look to the full-sized garden designers for inspiration and ideas to add to your own garden. (Um. Wait. By “full-sized garden designers” I’m talking about the scale of their work, not the size of the gardener. Lol!)

Here are some of our favorite summer “miniature garden bedding plants” or ground covers or understory plants, whatever you want to call them. Click the photos to enlarge them.

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

Dwarf Hens and Chicks off a completely different texture to the understory in the miniature garden bed. We find the smallest ones we can for our Miniature Garden Center. Very hardy and very drought tolerant.

Find the Dwarf Hens and Chicks here.
(Sempervirens tectorum)

Find the White Diamond Sedum here.
(Sedum pachyclados ‘White Diamond’)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

One of our all-time favorite miniature garden bedding plants because of it’s grassy texture, and it’s resilience. I’ve see a thriving full bed of this Dwarf Mondo Grass in full sun – and it can do well in part shade too. Inconspicuous lavender-colored flowers in the summer.

Find the Dwarf Mondo Grass here.
(Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’)

That fern-like plant is Platt’s Black Brass Buttons, find it here.
(Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

This Miniature Ice Plant is a slower, more congested from of the regular Ice Plant that can be invasive. Bright yellow flowers pop up for a couple of days through out the summer when it’s established and happy. A full-sun succulent and drought tolerant.

Find the Miniature Ice Plant here.
(Delosperma congesta)

Understory Plants for the Miniature Garden

“The hills are alive….” Our Irish Moss grew into a hill in our in ground miniature garden. Irish Moss is not a moss, it’s a perennial. Regular water, don’t let this one dry out, it will go brown and not recover. You can’t beat that lawn-look in miniature though. That’s a rare miniature dogwood behind it.  

Find the Irish Moss here.
(Sagina sublata)

So you can see with these few miniature garden bedding plants, just how much you can mix up the textures in your miniature understory. Like full-sized garden design, be deliberate and mix up the size of the foliage and the colors. If you choose all fine-leafed foliage it tends to blend together and look messy. By adding the grassy Dwarf Mondo Grass or the rigid leaves of the Miniature Ice Plant for example, it defines the different plants in the garden bed – meaning you can see what each separate plant is and they don’t all run together.

Here’s more about learning from the “big” garden experts here.

See all our miniature and dwarf trees, shrubs and understory plants up in America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, We have them sorted by light here – and they are sorted by your USDA zone here. Right plant, right place applies in miniature too AND you can plant a miniature garden in a container any time of year!

Like this? Join us and thousands of like-minded miniature gardeners each week with a blast of mini garden goodness delivered to your inbox every Friday. Join us here.

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Have a Little Fun With Miniature Cinderblock Gardening!

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

This tub is usually reserved for our halloween garden but it offered a big space to demo some ideas for today instead. We replaced the cemetery with the deck and walk-way and installed a veggie garden and compost area. Whew! ;o)

Have a Little Fun with Miniature Cinderblock Gardening!

No, we can’t leave well-enough alone. We have to dabble, play, test and play some more – it’s all for YOU! Okay, it’s for me too, you know I love this stuff! (Now before you think, “Must be nice!” This part of the job makes up for all the hair-pulling, hard drive-crashing, software conflicting, techno-glitches of working in the online world. Seriously!)

ICYMI following this blog for the last few weeks, we had fun with a Miniature Cinderblock Planter and Hand-Built Garden Furniture in [Modern!] Miniature. This week, we played around with the new cinderblock and came up with a few more fun and easy ideas that you can build in your own miniature gardens. Check it out. Click the photos to enlarge them:

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

I tried putting sedum cuttings in all the cinderblock-holes as well but that cluttered up the intent of the vegetable garden. The “Keep it Simple Silly!” KISS rule applies in miniature as well.

See the Cinderblock Set here.

See our Sedum Cuttings here.

See our Larger Sedum Cuttings here.

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

Stacked cinderblocks in a curved shape to accommodate the compost pile. The holes in the top cinderblocks were a perfect spot to keep the garden tools safe. The “compost” is from the garden bed. Way fun.

See the Miniature Garden Tool Set here.

See that Miniature Hand Tools here.

See all our miniature pots, tools and equipment here.

Keep Calm and Make a Miniature Garden


Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

The miniature cinderblocks worked perfectly with our micro-pebbles! The size and the coloring was just right. We had to work the pebbles in between the blocks a bit so no one will break their ankle on the path. ;o) That deck is made in the USA too. 

Find the Large Cedar Deck here.

Find the micro-pebbles here.

See all our patio and path solutions here.

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

Peekaboo. Lift the cedar deck up on cinderblocks – and just show the top of the cinderblock. This is one of those realistic details that only adds to the fun.

Miniature Gardening: Go Ahead, Act Your Shoesize

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

Our Miniature Palette Garden is doing well. It’s been planted for about a month now, with no problems. It gets watered along with the rest of the miniature garden with the over-head water wand (we have a drainage hole in the bottom of the tub.) The trunks of the trees have thickened up over the years and are maturing nicely. 

See our Miniature Palette Garden here.

See our Miniature Palette Garden KIT here.

See all our miniature and dwarf plants for miniature gardening, sorted by zone here.

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

The big containers makes room for little vignettes. The different plants in the understory have been left to weave together naturally over the years. This garden is perfect for sun, but since it is in a metal container, I move it into the part sun for the summer so the soil can stay evenly damp.

See our medium-sized Miniature Terra Cotta Pots here. (Available in three sizes.)

See the Miniature Driftwood Stump here.

See our miniature garden bedding plants for full sun here.

Miniature Cinderblock Gardening with

Our dog Kitty is my favorite photo bomber. She’s just a little nosy! 

See the Miniature Cinderblock Planter here.

See all our New and Back in Stock plants, parts and pieces for your miniature gardening here.

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Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

Miniaturizing full-sized projects isn’t as hard as you think but you need to pay attention to scaling down the measurements accurately to create a true miniature. 

Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

Lounge chairs, birdhouses and tables, oh my! I’m a nut about do-it-yourself projects around my full-sized house. So, when this new book from Timber Press arrived in the mail, Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture by Katie Jackson, it was everything I needed to get inspired, grab some wood and get busy.

But then my passion took over and instead of heading to the garage, I went into the miniature studio. Look what happened.

Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

I don’t know why I picked a hard project to start with – but it may be because I already had the skinny popsicle sticks on hand and it looked like it was a perfect match. I had to carve my own legs, which sounds harder than it is to do. 

The book is a delight to browse through and the steps are laid out nicely with a lot of breathing room on the uncluttered pages. The photos are very helpful in walking you through the project. You easily see what needs to be done ahead of time even for the most complicated project which didn’t seem that complicated anymore. I found myself being an armchair carpenter for an hour!


Join us for more miniature gardening!


Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

I mistakenly cut it short on the first attempt. That is a special jig on the right that I found at a miniature show. I used the cut-off ends of the popsicle sticks as spacers. 

The 20 projects include a couple of different kinds of planter/flower boxes, different tables, storage solutions and even a fun torchiere that you can light up. Katie keeps it simple, all you need is a few tools, some lumber and a couple of hours for some projects or up to a weekend for others. It’s dedicated to anyone who has every said, “I could never do that!”

Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

The camera angle makes the bench look longer, it’s 4 1/16 inches long and 1 1/8″ wide. In large size or 1″ scale, this would be a little over 4 feet long and about 15 inches wide – I should have added a couple of more slats. Dang.


The book starts with the basics, choosing boards, the types of wood, how they are sold. It has an overview of the tools you need followed by a chapter on how to use the tools. It is very well organized and edited a la typical Timber Press fashion – that’s why they are the top garden publisher after all.


We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!


Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

It does look a bit skinny but the third time is the charm! Lol! Not the kind of miniature furniture that I would keep outside or let get wet. 

See more about how to find out what scale your accessories are here.

Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

This was a much easier project to translate into miniature. I tied it to a hook so I could move it around the branches easily. 

It’s the author herself in the photos too, which is cute to see. See more about Katie Jackson’s Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture: 20 Step-by-Step Projects Anyone Can Build here, on the Timber Press website or look for it anywhere books are sold.



Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture in Miniature

By following Katie’s measurements and methods, I was able to get a realistic, true miniature swing. Sweet.

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Because We Need a Little Christmas, Right This Very Minute!

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden


Miniature Gardening: Christmas in July PLUS a Very Fun DIY

I know, I can hear you now. Groaning while asking, “Christmas in July? Really, Janit? We’ve barely started summer and you’re already on about December?” BUT, hear me out.

Recall any previous December with the holidays fast approaching. Your to-do list is not going away, the kids are

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

starting to bounce off the walls because SANTA IS COMING!! The invitations to do this or that are piling up and you have gifts to figure out – AND you haven’t done your decorating yet, not to mention your miniature garden decorating! Ugh. Where did the time go?

So here’s why, as a crafty and creative miniature gardener, you start thinking about Christmas in July:

  • You have the time to make anything you want in miniature.
  • You will have special homemade gifts to give – and you know they make the BEST gifts!
  • You will have the cutest miniature decorations to show off, to add to presents, or to give as gifts.
  • You will be able to enjoy the busy holiday season more with less to worry about.
  • You will have more time in December to spend with your friends and family.
  • You can save time and money!!

Now, is Christmas in July starting to make more sense now?

Time for a Fun DIY: Miniature Log Animals

I wasn’t able to get this out last December! I was on a Miniaturizing Martha campaign here and in my research, I found these on her website that really, really needed miniaturizing! So I thought this would make a very fun DIY to celebrate Christmas in July. Here is some insight that came out of my experiments:

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden

Cut all the pieces and lay them out before you start drilling and gluing to see if they are in proportion to each other, and the torso.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

In a Pig’s Ear

We’ve been experimenting with a few different log animals, but because all the parts boil down to the same pieces (head, legs, tail, ears and torso,) we needed a way to differentiate between a cat and a pig. We found the characteristics of the animals must come from the face, the length of the legs and the shape of the tail and ears – because the torso is always the same for any log-animal.

For example, a pig’s log-ears would be circles because a cat’s ears are triangles (artistic license. :o) The shape of a dog’s ears can range greatly, but if you give your log-dog pointed ears like a Chihuahua, it just might look like a cat. So, go deeper into the individual characteristics of the animal you are replicating, and stick to the stereotype to get the point across. Going back to the log-dog, give it the classic, floppy teardrop ears instead.

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden

Drill the holes for the arms, legs and neck at angles to help animate the animal. If you don’t, the log-animal may look too stiff.

Get Nosy

The snout is another way to get your ideas across. Using the stereotypical shapes for the nose and nostrils is a must. The round, pig’s nostrils can deliver the fun instantly, whereas the cat’s snout can be divided up into a peace sign using a thin marker with a triangle nose colored-in at the top of the snout (see picture below.) Or, skip the snout-details and for some simple holiday fun, attach a red pompom nose!

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden

Simplify the characteristics of the snout and ears to get the point across to the viewer. Don’t make them have to guess what it is, it will break the enchantment of miniatures.


Get a Leg Up

The legs can tell a lot about the kind of animal too, short legs can make a pig look fatter and cuter, long legs can make a cat more svelte. If you are making an animal in a sitting position, cut the arms and legs the same length for standing upright to get the proper proportion.

Have a bit of fun with the tail too. Make it the same shape of tail to suit the animal, of course, but make it out of glitter-covered tinsel wire, a fluffy red bow or pompom.

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden

Mossy tips of Maple tree branches made the perfect antlers for this lil’ set of miniature log reindeer. They are very fragile, so I didn’t worry about weatherproofing and used a hot glue gun to put it together. Hide the glue by putting a bit of moss on the hot glue before it dries.

Now Add Cuteness

Now that you have you main components of your log animal decided upon, take a moment and think about how to glue them on in a jaunty way. Rather than perfectly straight legs, make the back legs spread farther apart than the front legs for a more playful stance.

The head becomes more animated when it’s cocked to one side. For a dog, the ears may be in different positions from each other, but a cat or pig’s ears are normally matched.

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden

Put a little twinkly garland around its neck and you’re all set for the smiles and giggles.

A Quick Lesson in Interesting

This little tidbit will get you a ton of mileage in your crafting, decorating and miniature gardening. It’s one of those little tips that if you don’t know, you don’t know, you know?

http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.comTo make any design of any type more interesting, make it off-center. A good example is in the video & film world, they visualize the screen in thirds and purposefully put the focal point off to the side for a more intriguing shot to keep you engaged and watching.

Why is an off-center image or design more interesting?

It’s because we are symmetrical: our faces and our bodies, (for the most part.) We’re so accustomed to seeing our symmetrical-selves that anything off-center, or asymmetrical, tends to attract our attention more quickly simply because it’s different from us.

Besides, it’s a LOT easier to create something that’s off-center than it is to create a perfectly symmetrical miniature because there is a strong, innate tendency within all of us to analyze and compare a symmetrical scene to see if it is perfect or not.

So have fun using these little tweaks to add life to your miniature log animals and watch the smiles and giggles erupt over the holidays.

Like this? There’s more! Join us for our weekly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter here!

Christmas in July in the Miniature Garden


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Need Something to Smile About? Do it in Miniature!


NEW Miniature Cinderblock Planter from!

When are cinderblocks cute? When they are in miniature! This will put a smile on anyone’s face! 

Need Something to Smile About? Do it in Miniature!

I was going after a completely different topic for this week’s Mini Garden Guru blog but, after a rough week across the nation, here’s something to smile about instead.

I honestly think you can’t be in a bad mood when you play with miniatures of any type. In fact, I think it might be impossible.

What do you think? Do your miniatures cheer you up instantly? Leave your comments below!


NEW Miniature Cinderblock Planter from!

Fits into any miniature garden! Plant it in the bare spot in the mini garden bed, or keep it on the patio. It’s weatherproof! Exclusive to

See more photos of the world’s cutest cinderblock planter here.

NEW Miniature Palette Planter from!

Cute Alert!! When we saw these wee palettes, we couldn’t resist. They work perfectly with our Sedum cuttings. Just spray it with water went its looking dry. 

See the world’s cutest palette garden here.

NEW Miniature Palette Planter from!

The legs are adjustable. The wood is treated for outdoor use. The pockets for planted are designed to hold the soil in. Another exclusive to

Authentic miniature sandbox with superfine sand and buckets.

Okay, a miniature sandbox is not new, but one that is weather-resistant with superfine sand is! Pails are included.


Now there’s a desktop zen garden I can enjoy playing with! Lol! Find the sandbox here.

We have more miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs in stock too! See all our new and back-in-stock items here.

Want a dose of miniature gardening every Friday from the folks that started it all and wrote the book on it? Join us here. 


We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We’re digging deeper. Join us.

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