16 Ways to Enjoy America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center

America's Favorite Miniature Garden Center

16 Ways to Enjoy America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center

As the milestones click by more quickly nowadays, I need to stop and appreciate all the different things we have been doing to share and spread the joy of miniature gardening. Like a big tree with deep roots and multiple branches, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center has grown slowly to be quite big for such a little idea that started in your Grandma’s backyard. Here is a list of the many ways you can connect with us to learn, grow and share your miniature or fairy gardening with everyone you know too. If you don’t know how fun it is to introduce the idea to someone who’s never heard of it, try it, I guarantee you will make their day.

Postcard for Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

I used to change the postcard every year before we decided on our strongest avatar shown above. People didn’t realize it was miniature until we started sticking our finger into the photo. Now fingers are seen all over the internet as a reference to all things miniature.

The Popular Two Green Thumbs [dot] com Website

Our handmade website is always growing slowly. It is filled with pages with answers to frequently-asked-questions, galleries of miniature gardens made by you and me, an about page to find out about this long, strange trip we’ve been on, and a portfolio page that – okay wait, that page needs updating. Lol! Can you tell that Yours Truly maintains the site? The website was created in 2004 as my customers started asking for the information on plants, parts and pieces that make up a miniature garden. It’s the lil’ website that could, visit it here.

Miniature Garden Hobby

It really has been scientifically proven: it’s important to schedule fun into your busy day. Leave room for play, it will make you feel better and work better.

The Mini Garden Guru Blog

My blogging career started with writing a garden column for the West Seattle Herald around 2008. After a few months of trying to figure out different ways to work the miniature garden topic into a full-size garden column, I decided I needed to focus on one or the other, the writing for newspapers or the miniature garden movement.

The Mini Garden Guru blog was created as a way to get my findings and discoveries out for all to see, to make it easier to enjoy this hobby. Now you can spend less time avoiding mistakes that I made. I’ve been blogging almost once a week, since 2009, with one guest post only, blogging entirely about miniature gardening and Two Green Thumbs. We have well-over 1,000,000 views on this blog now. 

Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs

America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, TwoGreen Thumbs.com – we love all things garden AND miniature!

Your Miniature Garden Center Store

What first started as an eBay store, has now become America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center. I got my start selling on eBay before I opened own online store in 2004. After a ton of research, I configured the best way to ship the plants safely all year long and well, the rest is garden history. A lot of the customers that found us on eBay are still with us today, and many have become friends.

It’s been interesting watching our inventory evolve, as with everything, the cream rises to the top with both the accessories and the plants. Mind you, some of the miniatures that I just adored selling have been discontinued as the change in manufacturing in China has quadrupled a lot of the prices of the accessories, and have priced more of the ornate items out of the market. But we are now able to offer – and are always looking to do more – accessories that are made in the USA. We enjoy providing high-quality, durable and sustainable miniature garden accessories that are true to the realism and to scale for both miniature and fairy gardening.

Our high quality, hardy, easy-to-grow, true miniature trees, shrubs, and plant varieties have expanded quite nicely over the years. We’ve created a reliable mix of inventory that has something for everyone and for almost everyplace with light, that is. (We still don’t have plants for dark corners in the hallway.) Put this extensive inventory, together with the knowledge of how they grow over many years a miniature garden, has launched us far ahead of crowd. Visit American’s Favorite Garden Center here.


The Miniature Garden Society

We are excited about our new website community that is opening soon.

Miniature Garden Society

With the sudden increase of miniature and fairy gardeners and garden shops, it was time to stand apart from the rest and create a safe place to grow and create. The Miniature Garden Society is still a work in progress, the website it still being assembled, but the ideas are about to start to flow and grow. Creativity breeds creativity. Join us here to find out more.

Miniature Gardening in Romania

Collecting email addresses at local touristy markets helped spread the message far and wide. This is from a Romanian garden magazine from 2013. Click the pic to go to the portfolio page on the main website.

The Mini Garden Gazette

We collected names and email address for over a decade from interested people at the weekly, local antique and craft markets and garden shows in and outside Seattle, Wa. when we first started in 2001. Holding down a tent at the Fremont Market and Edmonds Farmers Market put us in front of countless tourists and gardeners. This allowed us to develop an extensive email list that sent the idea around the world. The Mini Garden Gazette started in 2004 as way to promote the website and online store but, nowadays, we advise and inspire fellow miniature gardeners each month. It’s still free and hope it will always be. Join us here.

Janit on Etsy

Weird and wonderful miniature garden items, natural supplies and popular kits.

Janit’s Handmade on Etsy

Our handmade, crafty Etsy store opened in 2008 as a venue for my weird and wonderful miniature garden accessories and materials that were one-of-a-kind, a fun kit or set, and our most popular miniature garden supplies. We have sold a lot of very fun items so far, and look forward to us keeping it weird and wonderful. Visit Janit’s Etsy store here.

Miniature Gardening: Go Ahead, Act Your Shoesize

We went ahead and got these business cards printed with the new slogan only to realize that it wouldn’t work for our European customers. Lol!

Facebooking for you!

Our fellow miniature gardeners on Facebook have collected hundred of photos of miniature gardens from around the world on our Two Green Thumbs’ page since 2009. Click into the photo albums and check out the past contests on the Event page for more. Feel free to ‘like’ us and leave a comment, post a photo or, better yet, enter our Great Annual Miniature Garden Contest that is going on right now – see the details here. Almost 8,600 likes as of today, March 26, 2015! See more here.

Miniature Gardening on Pinterest

Our Pinterest pages are a great spot for the unusual sets, kits, ideas and inspiration that we have to offer – and to remember what we’ve done!

 A Mini Pinterest Garden

Yet another way to collect inspiration and ideas for your miniature gardening pleasure! We add a little something each and every day. While we don’t rank even close to the top pinners with an incredible dedication to this site, we do have separate boards on miniature garden plants, diy crafts, miniatures, fairy gardens, and, of course, miniature gardens. Oh and you don’t have to be a ‘pinner’ to enjoy Pinterest. See them here.

Miniature Gardening Greeting Cards

New miniature garden greeting cards are now available through Zazzle.com

Miniature Garden Merchandize on Zazzle

Now you can wear your hobby! See our new t-shirts up in our Zazzle store. We’ve got mugs, greeting cards, sweatshirts, smart phone covers and more. Don’t see your favorite Two Green Thumbs’ photo for your idea? Let us know and we can get it up there for you! Visit the Miniature Garden Zazzle store here.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

A hardy miniature garden for full sun with a Top Point Cedar (middle,) a Green Carpet Juniper to the left and red Thyme on the right. It was made last year for Mother’s Day at Swanson’s Nursery.

More on Social Media

Flickr: Flick through our Flickr album if you haven’t already. I try to put only the cream up there, but some antics get posted at times from my other accounts. See it here.

Tweet: Follow us and our random acts of tweeting out miniature garden love! See it here and here

Instagram: Okay, sometimes I show my real sense of humor here, but sometimes I send out snapshots of our life at Two Green Thumbs. See it here.

Google+: Meet me through my personal page, the community page or the store’s page. (Honestly, I didn’t make the last one, Google did.) See it here.

German edition of Gardening in Miniature

Gardening in Miniature – now available in German! Click the pic to see it on Amazon!

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book

Click the picture to get your autographed copy from our online store. Or Amazon[dot]com has it too!

We Wrote The Book On It

Aaaaand our bestselling book on the hobby because it is the best in the hobby, created by the best garden publisher in the industry, Timber Press. Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World has it’s own website too, right here and here is Timber’s page.

Miniature Gardening with Timber Press

Look forward to more miniature gardening with Timber Press, the worlds top garden publisher.

Oh, and There’s Another Book in the Works…

We are tickled pink to be working with Timber Press on another book. I can’t tell you what it is on but I bet you can guess the topic: miniature gardening. How did you know?!? This one is going to be super-fun and deliciously creative. Stay tuned through our email list, you can sign up for the Mini Garden Gazette at the same time. 

Whew! I think I need a nap. And I think I missed something. Lol!

Whatever you do, make it fun Happy Spring! – Janit & Steve.

Your Miniature Garden Center


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Robert’s Truly Magical Indoor Miniature Water Gardens

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

Miniature gardening with Robert from Plantaria.com with his magnificent indoor water gardens. The tiny deer tells the scale. 

Robert’s Truly Magical Indoor Miniature Gardens

A funny thing happened the other day at the Philadelphia Flower Show. A fellow miniature gardener from the Miniature Settings Exhibit told me about this booth in the show with huge wall displays that were filled with a miniature gardens, complete with a working waterfall and creek. She was very impressed and it was something I needed to see. When I sought out the booth, I saw Robert Dekker’s nametag and immediately said, “Hey, I know you!” Can I say it’s a small world within the miniature garden world? Robert had called us a few times during his experimental stages and now I finally know what he was talking about. They were gorgeous.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

The atmosphere changes as you get closer to the garden. Similar to a large active aquarium, it is serene and surreal.

Miniature Garden Plants is Our Specialty!

Robert and his son, Stephen, have spent the last few years developing and growing very impressive indoor miniature gardens – really living works of art. His background is full-sized waterscaping and you can tell that it has translated well into his miniature work. Every plant and rock is placed just so-so-perfectly in the mini landscape built inside a bookcase-type hutch adapted to hold the water reservoir and pump for not only the waterfall and creek, but a timed, self-watering system too.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

I could identify a few of the plants, but not all. The  tree on the left side and almost center, are Juniper. Up on hill, on the left are Elwood Cypress and I think the stand of trees, upper right, are Boulevard Cypress. All have been trained in shape and nurtured to grow in this indoor environment.

Did you get that? The whole piece is a self-contained miniature forest for indoors. Wow. It would be absolutely perfect in a large living room, waiting room or lobby. I want one.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

The understory plants are combinations of tolerant perennials and small-leaf indoor plants. Miniature brass buttons and Baby Tears mingle with Pileas and Begonias.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

The garden is self contained within the hutch. There is a drawer for the reservoir and another for the timer system.

But what left the most impression on me was the serene, comforting feeling that the garden gave me when I walked into the booth. The world dropped away and I could feel the presence of nature that only a large, fish-filled aquarium could deliver. It was so peaceful, serene and, well, completely magical. Who needs a TV when you have one of these?

Note that the plants Robert has used is a mixture of indoor and outdoor plants. The ground-layer plants are a combination of Mini Brass Buttons and Baby Tears that can he has nurtured to handle the year ‘round indoor temperatures. The trees are mainly outdoor plants that he has trained to grow in this particular environment. Robert spent years of experimentation with different combinations of fluorescent and LED lighting to get to this stage. He was careful to consider the type of light that would shine into the room too.

See more photos and get in touch with Robert through his website at www.Plantaria.net. He is based in the New York / New Jersey area. If you get the chance to see these works of art in person, I would highly recommend it.

Like this? Want more miniature gardening? Join us here for your Mini Garden Gazette, a monthly newsletter from America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, TwoGreenThumbs.com.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

This second miniature garden had Hinoki Cypress trained to look like forest trees. You can see now, without an animal, figure, or man-made item, the scale of the garden can look smaller.

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

The faux rocks in the back of the mountainscape merge expertly with the real rock used for the waterfall and creek.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo

Baby Tear cascade out the front of the scene, welcoming visitors in to get a closer look. I wanted to stay and play.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo



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Miniature Gardening for the Fairies with Plow & Hearth

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

Check out the lighted lamp post – cuteness! It was a fun project to build for the Plow & Hearth, North Wales store in PA. Variegated boxwood on the right, that lime-green tree that is in front or the house is a wee Wilma Cypress, or Lemon Cypress. That ivy in the front isn’t really in scale with the rest of the garden, but made a nice accent to trail down the front of the planter so it wouldn’t look so stark.

Miniature Gardening for the Fairies with Plow & Hearth

While in Philadelphia last week, I just had to give our friends from Plow & Hearth a call to see what is new and fresh this season for their miniature fairy gardening. I got more than I bargained for – I was asked to create another fairy garden for their North Wales store. So, not only did I have the chance to get up close and personal with the new items, I stayed and played for awhile and met a few fellow miniature gardeners too! Here is what happened.

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

The raised planter was really fun to work with. There was enough room for two different vignettes. I designed it by placing the houses in first, then figured out where to put the trees and plants.

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

The smaller houses now have smaller furniture to match. The teapot and cups are glued onto the table so you don’t have to fuss with them – or lose them. Dwarf Mondo Grass is on the left, Baby Tears to the right of it.

Your Miniature Garden Center

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

I used our Mini Patio Mix Kit for the foundation for the house – and it was big enough for a front porch area too. Place the furniture as you would in you full-sized world and don’t block the door – the fairies won’t be able to go in and out. ;o)

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

Plow & Hearth have pretty new sets for the spring. The whole line is interchangeable and everything seems to match with any house or furniture set.

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

That red tree is a Coprosma ‘Pina Colada.’ It’s placed in a cache-pot that I buried right into the soil to make it look like it’s a big planter for the middle of the plaza. The tree may complain about being indoors eventually, but since its in the cache-pot, I can be replaced very easily. (Some spend $10 for a bouquet of flowers that last a week, why not spend the same on a temporary plant that can last for a couple of weeks or months?)

Shop Two Green Thumbs

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

Fairy crossing! The new fairy furniture sets are very sweet .

Fairy Gardening with Janit Calvo

Placed in a brightly lit spot, this garden should happily grow and weave together.

Find the planter here on Plow & Hearth’s online store.

Find their fairy garden houses and furniture here.

Find the plants that I used here.

Find more realistic accessories for miniature gardening here.

Join us for more miniature garden fun and adventures here.

Janit Calvo's Fairy Garden built for Plow & Hearth


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Dr. K’s Award Winning Miniature Work for the Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz


Dr. K’s Award Winning Miniature Work for the Philadelphia Flower Show

After blogging about all the miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, I thought you may want to see the Best of Show Miniature Setting up-close and almost personal. Louise Krasniewicz, aka Dr. K, did an outstanding job this year – wait, doesn’t she always do an outstanding job on all her miniatures? Lol!

But I’m not sure if Louise will brag as much about her work as I will – and I wanted this for my Fellow Miniature Gardeners that receive my Mini Garden Gazette for March – so here it is in its delicious detail.  Click to enlarge the photos.

If you are on a phone and looking at this, you will want to see it on a bigger screen. It’s marvelous!

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

See the little basket for the dog? They would lower him down to do his business.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Every architectural detail was carefully aged to look worn and weathered.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

The alley. Note the gas meter on the wall on the left. Love the concrete retaining wall with the rusted fence on top.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

The sculptress’ studio. We followed Louise’s progress on her Miniature Settings blog throughout the past year. It was fun to see her ups and downs, her perseverance paid off twofold.

Here is Louise’s blog – it’s all about the Miniature Settings Exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Shop Two Green Thumbs

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Louise made the antennae, the pigeons were perfect. See the hosiery & brassiere on the clothesline above the window?

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Meticulous detail. Enlarge any area and you’ll discover more.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

There is perfection in imperfection when it comes to miniature scenes.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Despite the limited amount of garden space in this scene, Louise still used over 40 different kinds of plants.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Can you tell that she just loves movies? Note the lighting in the window scenes too.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Paying attention to the details that are not readily seen is an important part of the realism. And it forces the viewer further into the scene, extending the enjoyment and the enchantment.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Louise nailed the detail in each window, capturing the different personalities of the tenants.


Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

I recall reading on Louise’s blog how she fought the blinds a bit – but she didn’t compromise until she found what worked. I love that they are not perfectly straight.

You can see a behind the scenes view from last year’s blog here. Scroll down to the end of the blog to see behind-the-scenes of Louise’s “The Birds” display, for 2014.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Why would she leave her purse behind? If you look closer, you can see her ring…

The Ring post from Louise’s blog.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

I wonder how many times Louise watched the film?

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

The brickwork alone is amazing!

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

“The most unusual and intimate journey into the human emotions ever filmed.” An Alfred Hitchcock classic.

From the movie:
: Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times?

Lisa: He likes the way his wife welcomes him home.

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

Congratulations Louise! You deserved it!

Miniature Gardening with Louise Krasniewicz

An amazing number of plants, over 40 different types were used in this scene.

See and follow Louise here.

Learn the difference between our gardening in miniature and these miniature settings exhibit here.

Love everything miniature garden? Then join us here, we’re going deeper… ;o)

Miniature Gardening

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo


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Miniatures at the Huge Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature Gardens at the Philadelphia Flower Show

A close up of Louise’s award-winning miniature Rear Window scene with close attention to detail, replicating the scene in the movie to a “T.”

Miniature Gardening is Still Growing at the Huge Philadelphia Flower Show

Dateline: 3.4.15 – Reporting in from our Timber Press tour to Philadelphia with our unique perspective – as usual! Here is our review of the garden event of the year, the best in the country, the Philadelphia Flower Show that is! It’s still on until March 8, 2015.

Miniature Garden Settings Exhibits

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

And our good friend, Louise Krasneiwicz won the Best of Show this year for her steller Rear Window display! Congratulations, Dr. K! It. Is. Awesome. (More details to come.)

The Miniature Garden Settings Exhibits is a series of 10 dioramas set into window boxes built into walls for easy viewing. Despite the long list of the parameters that everyone has to work within, the exhibits vary in skill, vision and expertise. Every year there is at least a few great ideas and “wow” scenes that keep us coming back for more.

The organizers, Ron Hess & Louise Krasniewicz, spend countless and thankless hours finding new artists to participate, helping with the progress of the exhibits, blogging to keep everyone updated, promoting the exhibit throughout the year, and organizing and maintaining the main event during the show. That statement alone made me tired. Lol! Thank you Ron, Katy, Louise and the rest of the artists for a great show!

Here are a few of the exhibits below. Most of my photos I took at the wrong time of day, when the hall lights were on and the glares in the windows really got in the way. Thankfully I was able to get most of the plant-based exhibits photographed. Louise has much better photos  of all the exhibits up in her blog, the drama class and the fantasy class.

Click to enlarge the photos!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Louise Krasniewicz

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Best of Show. This scene was all handmade by Louise. You could stand there for an hour and still not see all the little nuggets in the details. Superb! 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Pamela Goldman

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Pamela does it again with her Wizard of Oz scene. The house was at a terrific angle that really made the building look like it just landed.  (The lights you see in the shot are from my negligent photographing.) 

Miniature Gardens at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Pamela use over 22 different kinds of tiny plants in her display. Click to enlarge the photo.


An Affair to Remember, Lucille Dickerson

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

I liked the garden border idea in this scene. The tiny plants grow fast in the displays. Some are switched out during the show because they get too big. 

Enchanted April, Cathy Bandoian

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Cathy painted the backdrop to blend in with the “real” forest plants behind the tent to create a lush garden border. 

I will be going into greater detail with Louise’s Rear Window display. You can find the rest of the photos of the exhibits on Dr. K’s Miniature Settings Exhibit blog:

  • Gone with the Wind, Beverly Sue Palaia
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Mary Ciccolella
  • Little Shop of Horrors, Ronny Smith and Chris Bogs
  • ET Goes Home, Randiee Wismer’s Dream Team of the Norristown Garden Club
  • Sleeping Beauty, Lori Anne Currall
  • Lady and the Tramp, Kathy Bright, Sheri Sullivan, Ron Sullivan

Your Miniature Garden Center

More than Just Miniatures!

There were miniature gardens throughout the show this year too – so much more than last year! Most of the vendors just had the accessories for sale, a couple of vendors stood out as favorites, which they really couldn’t help, we’ve been following their work for years. Here’s more of our review of the best garden show in the country:

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Miniature Water Gardens – Plantarias

Miniature gardening at the Philly Show

Robert Dekkers of Plantaria.com – I didn’t realize we knew each other until I saw his name. More on this FMG to come… ;o)

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I lighten up the shot so you can see the similarities to an aquarium. It has the same calming and “other-worldly” quality that a fish tank has – it draws you in and you don’t want to leave! 

More on this in a future blog! Robert Dekkers has been working on this ingenious approach to miniature gardening for a few years now. He calls them water gardens because they have the world’s cutest rock waterfall and stream running through each one. His plantarias are a fully contained, self-watering miniature garden that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own living room. A great idea for lobbies, waiting rooms and restaurants too – it exudes the tranquility and peacefulness similar to an aquarium! The irrigation is on automatic, the lights are the right balance for the trees and plants, the entire hutch is self-contained and made for indoors. I wonder how much shipping is to Seattle? Robert is based in the NY / NJ area. Connect with him here.

Twig Terrariums

Miniatures at the Philadelphia Flower Show

The first gals to bring the moss terrarium idea to market. They have a store in Brooklyn, NY and sell online too.

These are the gals that started the mossy-mini terrarium trend, Twig Terrariums. They put tiny HO scaled miniature people into mossy terrariums and instantly created a completely different world. It’s fun to see their creations up close and personal at the show. They have an online store, and a popular book on their work. Find them here.

More on the Philadelphia trip to come!

Like everything miniature garden? Want to go deeper? Then join us here.

German edition of Gardening in Miniature

Gardening in Miniature – now available in German! 


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Who Else Wants to Garden in Miniature?

German edition of Gardening in Miniature

It’s ready! The German edition of Gardening in Miniature is now released.

Who Else Wants to Garden in Miniature?

Now don’t get me started singing ‘It’s a Small World After All’ because that ear-worm usually lasts for days – but it is, and in more ways than one.

We are tickled pink to introduce the German version of our Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book! Yep! The little-hobby-that-could is still growing slowly around the world, keeping people awake at night with all the ideas dancing in their heads. Lol!

Here are a few miniature gardening friends that I have previously blogged about, for your perusing pleasure: Shop Two Green Thumbs


Cyprus Island

India, Isreal, Austria, Romania, Phillipines, Argentina, Puerto Rico & England.

Romania & Japan

You will also find a number of new businesses created around the idea. I think the only way to find someone in your area is to Google “miniature garden” with your city’s name and see what comes up. Here are a few Fellow Miniature Gardener Entrepreneurs that we’ve been following on our social channels throughout the years:




And here is where to get the english book in Europe – stay tuned, they should be getting the German edition in soon. Or, find it on Amazon.de here.

Got a connection or business? Leave it below! 

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter! Join us here.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo



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Miniature Garden Plants: Miniature Settings Vs. Miniature Gardening

Miniature Gardening at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature Garden Plants: Settings Vs. Gardening

The Philadelphia Flower Show is home to the only major Miniature Garden Settings exhibit in the world – and it happens to be one of the most well attended exhibits at the show too. I’m on my way there at the end of this month where I will be speaking at the Gardener’s Studio stage on Sunday, March 1st and 5pm, the first Sunday of the show. This year, part of my discussion will cover the difference between gardening in miniature and the miniature garden settings so I thought to get started today.

When I finally saw the gorgeous miniature displays in person last year, I realized it was completely different than the type of miniature gardening that I have taught for well over a decade. I knew it was different, but it wasn’t until I received this email last August that I realized other people didn’t know the difference – even some of the people who are participating in the exhibit.

“Dear Janit,
I have been invited to show in the miniature class in the next Philadelphia Flower show and not too long ago ordered several plants from you. Unfortunately a few of the plants were way too big in scale to be used, one died and another is on its way out. It seemed like a great deal of money and I was sorry I spent it for so little return. I, therefore, will not be ordering from you again and could not, in good conscience, recommend you to anyone else.   [Name and location removed]”

Whoa. It’s like I took her $75 and hightailed it to Mexico. Right plant, right place works for miniature gardens – and all types of gardens, wherever you are and whoever you are. Plants are the great leveler of society, they only care if they did not receive the right care and not money, nor fame, nor status can change that.


This woman spent almost $75 on a Slowmound Mugo Pine, Dwarf Hens and Chicks, Mini Sweet Flag, Gemstone Hinoki Cypress and Piccolo Balsam Fir that included the Tansu Cryptomeria and Jersey Jewel Japanese Holly. Had she asked if any of these plants were ideal for her project, I would have cautioned her about how to use them – and the fact that they are outdoor plants would be first on my list.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings – The Birds by Louise Krasniewicz. Click to enlarge the photo and you will see a blend of young plants, plant starts, indoor and outdoor plants. This method of growing and combining plants works wonderful for the settings exhibit, but would not be expected to last if it was planted as a miniature garden.

And what she didn’t notice is that all the pot sizes are mentioned in the text and shown in the photo with my hand as a reference to the size of the plants. I hope she didn’t plant these all together because would be a disaster: The mugo pine and hens and chicks are outdoor plants, love full sun and drier, well-draining soil. The Mini Sweet Flag prefers wet soil, shade and can be grown indoors and the rest are outdoor plants, prefer damp soil and part sun. All these differences and growing details are always mentioned in each listing underneath the multiple photos of each plant in our online store.

Thankfully, I’m from “the east coast” and knew that it was just a misunderstanding, albeit a definitive one. I wrote her back explaining the difference, included some references and wished her luck in the exhibit. But despite my compassion for teaching and sharing, I’m human and the email did ruffle my feathers a bit. I haven’t stayed in business for over 15 years by supplying the nation with miniature plants that don’t work. I didn’t fill the bestselling book on the hobby with false pretenses and nor did the world’s top horticultural publisher print a book filled with wrong information. Why did she jump to such a radical conclusion?

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

A close-up of Louise’s garden beds – they were impeccable. She plays with rooting cuttings and uses them while they are young. Begonias and succulents are her favorite. That burgundy colored plant is a very young coleus. The wee garden bed looks perfect! (Click to enlarge.)

So, Janit, What is the Diff?

Dr. K of the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit blog has put together a database of the plants used in the exhibit. It’s a work in progress and she has about 300 plants listed so far. I’ve scanned through the list and yes, there are plants that we use that can last for years in our miniature gardens but majority of the plants aren’t for our type of gardening in miniature.

The exhibit is only supposed to last for about two weeks and sometimes the plants have to be switched out either due to being too stressed out because they are growing in abnormal conditions, or they are growing too fast. Here are some observations on their techniques and examples of plants that won’t work for a long-lasting miniature garden. I imagine the artists have many more and I look forward to learning more from them.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

This is the Mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Pamela Goldman. Young date palms are combined with air plants, Sedums, young begonias and small-leafed perennial starts. The effect is superb but the combination is not expected to last long.


Miniature Settings Exhibit Techniques

- Over-planted: Almost all the displays are over-planted to look lush and full. A necessity to achieve what would take months naturally

- Temporary: It is not planted as a garden that is meant to stay together for years like we do.

- Mixing Plants: The artists plant indoor with outdoor plants, light loving with shade loving because, again, the display does not have to last long.

- Fast Growing: Ground covers and rockery plants are a favorite because they can be grown quickly and the young plants add color and texture to the miniature scene. Examples: Lamium, Veronica Speedwell, Candy Tuft, Pileas, (Some nurseries call these miniature fairy garden plants which is very misleading to the consumer. The plants can be grown fast and the growers can offer them cheap to the garden retailers. They look cute when young and “cute”sells.)

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Settings Plant List from Dr. K.

This is Dr. K’s long plant list from her Birds display from last year’s show. You can see the wide variety of plants used in just one setting. The task of creating the display and planting the tiny gardens is an art unto itself and I don’t think it could not be done any other way.

Miniature Settings Exhibit Plants Explained

- Seedlings, Starts and Young Plants: The exhibitors cultivate plant starts, or use very young plants that mimic full-sized garden plants. The leaves and stem are usually the perfect size and the variety of textures look fantastic in the wee garden beds – but it’s not going to last. Examples: Polka Dot plant, Kalanchoe, Creeping Jenny, Catnip, Lavender, Rosemary, Sorrel and even culinary Thyme is suggested as a miniature plant. All these plants will grow up within one growing season and will not stay miniature.

- Unusual Plants: Depending upon the topic of the scene, some of the plants listing in the database are plants that have surreal look, instead of being an ideal plant for a miniature garden, regular-sized Aloe and the Living Stones (Lithops) for example. Bog-loving plants, like the Bog Rosemary are listed – I would not grow a miniature garden in a bog. And fragile plants or plants that are fussy to grow are not on my list of favorites either simply because life is too short to fuss, examples are the Maidenhair Fern and the Mimosa.

I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions about the different kinds of miniature garden plants used in this fabulous display at the Philly Show. If you have any further questions or comments, please leave them below. I would be glad to know what I have missed.

Come and see my talk and demo at the show! I’m on at 5pm, Sunday, March 1st at the Gardeners Studio Stage. Here’s the info.

Join us in our miniature garden exploits that can last for years! Sign up for our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter to get in on the fun here.

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book








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