Miniature Gardening: Turning Learning Curves into Opportunity

Jen's Mini Garden & Dwarf Junipers

The Miniature Junipers standing small in Jennifer’s miniature garden look like they didn’t miss a beat being buried several feet under the snow last winter in Connecticut.

Miniature Gardening: Turning Learning Curves into Opportunity

When I wrote the blog back in late June about New Gardeners Coming to Miniature Gardening with Mixed Results, I left out one very valuable takeaway:

Even the most experienced gardeners lose plants.

Over the few years in this business I’ve been very fortunate to gain a wide demographic that has caught the Miniature Gardening Bug. Today, I would like you to meet three fellow Miniature Gardeners who have been customers of mine for so long I don’t call them customers anymore, but friends.

All three of these experienced miniature gardeners lost plants this past year, either from too much snowfall, unexpected freezes or prolonged heat wave this summer. Let’s review their situations from our armchairs as I’ve never visited their gardens in person, but have communicated with them through Facebook, email, or they visited my studio here in Seattle.

Meet Jennifer from Connecticut. Jen started visiting my website back in 2008 and we now follow each others lives through Facebook. This past winter, her area had an unusual amount of snow, so-much-so that one of her comments on her page said, “We have no place to put it.” We wondered what would happen to the miniature and dwarf conifers buried under the snow in her in-ground miniature gardens. As the spring warmed things up, Jen took inventory and found that she did lose some plants but here’s what thrived:

Blue Planet Spruce in situ.

Jen’s Blue Planet Spruce is just too cute. Looks like the several feet of snowfall in Connecticut didn’t bother it at all.

Mugo Pines in the Miniature Garden

Dwarf mugo pines came through the record snowfall unscathed. Mugos are a real treat to grow and suit containers very well too. They are sturdy, hardy and pretty.

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Meet Holly from Colorado. Holly has been in the horticultural industry in various ways throughout the years, and she has just started a blog about her gardening exploits. Last year, Holly made a wonderful rock garden and needed some miniature and dwarf trees to fill it out so she found me online. This summer the Denver area, as well as most of the country, is in an extended heat “dome” that doesn’t seem to want to break. Despite all her experience and diligence she lost one of her beloved conifers. She shared this with me the other day.

This was a Jamy Balsam Fir that likes cool, damp soil and part sun. It looks like the heat wave got to it plus, Holly is up in the mountains where the sun is stronger. (Note that when the plant tag says, “Full sun to part sun” it really means part sun.) When any dwarf or mini conifer this far gone, chalk it up to the learning curve. But, thankfully, miniature garden plants don’t cost that much and it is a great opportunity to try something new and perhaps more suited to the space with the intense sun in mind. Dwarf mugo pines and ground cover Junipers would be my first thing to try. And to wait until fall to plant them when the weather cools off.

A scorched Jamy Balsam Fir

Poor thing. A scorched Jamy Balsam Fir. They prefer part sun and damp soil, but this summer’s heat wave was a bit too much for the little guy!

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Meet Jay from New Mexico. Jay’s work brings him into Seattle almost monthly. He used to order online, but now he comes to visit the studio where we can chat endlessly about everything miniature garden. Jay lives in the mountains where the sun is relentless, “It eats up everything because we are that much closer to the sun.” Taking that into account, Jay chose full sun plants and has planted them in part sun to compensate for it and everything was growing splendidly.

This past winter, his area in New Mexico dipped into an unusual freeze that took a few of his plants with it. It was so unexpected, there was nothing he could do. What we did learn was that his collection of dwarf Spruces and the dwarf Arborvitae were the most resilient and survived both the heat of the sun and the freezing temperatures, they emerged this spring in grand style. I’m always bugging him to see photos and when he does, I’ll definitely share. Jay has been adding to his miniature garden for years now and his partner, Kevin, has now been bitten by the Miniature Garden Bug so we can only imagine the progress they’ve been making.

Three completely different circumstances where these experienced miniature gardeners lost plants in uncontrollable situations. And what did they do?

They tried another tree.

Miniature and dwarf conifers don’t grow on trees, they ARE trees. Now, don’t just sit there, get back up and try another plant – just like the experts and the experienced!

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4 Comments »

  1. my plants are doing wonderful that i ordered from you last month…my miniature cranesbill is now blooming, so stinking cute…..thanks for all your tips and newsletter!….becky hooper

    Like

  2. […] In other words, don’t get discouraged if you kill a plant. They don’t grow on trees – a good lot of them are trees! There are multitudes of microclimates throughout any area so you may have to try a couple of different situations to find out what the plant needs to be at its best. And yes, it may discouraging but, out of your learning curve, you create opportunities. […]

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  3. Dog Charm said

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post.
    Thank you for providing this information.

    Like

  4. […] – Connecticut, Colorado and New Mexico […]

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