Miniature Garden Beginnings: Still Crazy After All These Years

The first group shot of Miniature Gardens by Two Green Thumbs

The first group shot of Miniature Gardens by Two Green Thumbs, 2002

Miniature Garden Beginnings: Still Crazy After All These Years

In celebration of 10 years of miniature gardening, here is a visual trip back to the turn of the century.

Did I make mistakes? I made quite a few.

Did I get weird looks when people found out that I was doing this for a living? Yes.

Do I ask myself questions in the third person? Apparently, I do. ;o)

Click into the photos to enlarge them. All of the photos were taken on 35mm film and were scanned from prints. (Was it only 10 years ago that we didn’t have digital cameras, iphones or portable video cameras?)

The very first miniature garden was an impromptu board with soil on it.

It started as an idea for a backdrop for our greeting card line, having fun with one sixth scale scenes.

The very first miniature garden was an impromptu board with soil on it that was created for the greeting card line. I used small weeds and rocks to fill up the space. Lake Union in the background in the above photo.

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 above scene was 1o 1/2″ across and fooled one of the experts at the Swanson’s Nursery.

At about the same time, I was working at Swanson’s Nursery here in Seattle and found the miniature and dwarf conifers that suited my purpose perfectly. The search for miniature “bedding plants” opened up a wealth of choices. My brain was doing flips at the possibilities! After assembling the above scene in a homemade, 3 foot container, it grew together quite nicely.

It soon attracted everybody’s eye who visited. Friends wanted one for themselves, for their sister or their mother. I brought the above photo to Swanson’s Nursery and showed it to one of the gurus that worked there. She passed it back quickly and said, “That’s nice, Janit.” She did not notice that it was a miniature garden scene. I knew I had something then…

Miniature Garden Plants is Our Specialty!

The first Miniature Gardens weren't quite right, and did not stand the test of time.

The first Miniature Gardens were not quite right, and did not stand the test of time.

When I started making miniature gardens to sell, I wanted to put them in pots to be carry-able so I shrunk the idea even further. At first, I was designing with color and texture, and not paying attention to what plants needed to survive. In the photo above, I mixed full-sun plants with part shade plants, a combination that did not work for long.

The very first Miniature Garden Patio was sand base that kept washing away every time I watered.

The very first Miniature Garden Patio was sand-based, with broken marble tile pieces haphazardly arranged.

I got the look of the patios down just by mimicking “full-sized” gardens and used flagstone, marble, stones with miniature sand as the “grout.” (Yes, play sand was too big! ;o) The patio kept getting washed out with the overhead watering and the Seattle rain – I had to fix it all the time! I developed the Mini Patio Mix Kit to create a permanent miniature patio keep it looking nice all the time. I don’t like fussy things.

Our first test of the miniature garden idea at Fremont Market, Seattle, Wa

Our first test of the miniature garden idea at Fremont Market, Seattle, Wa. in 2002.

It was a cold, wet, rainy November day in Seattle. Yuck. As you can see by the look on my face in the photo, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea at first. But right after this picture was taken, we got a flurry of activity that made me come back the next Sunday and the next… It got to the point where I could not make the gardens fast enough. Then something changed and the do-it-yourself movement started; people wanted to make their own miniature gardens. So, I switched gears and started to supply the plants, parts and the pieces instead.

By 2004, with help from Steve, we got the Miniature Garden setup down to a system.

By spring of 2003, with help from Steve, we got the Miniature Garden setup down to a system.

By 2003, with help from Steve and the purchase of a used pick-up truck, we got the Miniature Garden setup down to a system. It was not easy work maintaining and schlepping the heavy, “living” inventory with the tiny and meticulous, miniature accessories.

During the summer months, I did up to 3 markets a week with Steve helping on Sundays. It really help spread the word. The Fremont Market was where I met the most out-of-town visitors and tourists, so I gave out postcards, set up a website, started a mailing list. I began to sell plants on Ebay to test the idea online.

Experimental Miniature Gardening

Experimental Miniature Gardening with Cacti and Aloe. The wee engraved rock is from JaensRocks on Etsy.

Old Fashioned Miniature Gardens

I called this kind, Old Fashioned Miniature Gardens, the type your Grandma used to make.

“If people aren’t laughing at your ideas… you are not dreaming big enough.”

– Loosely quoted, until I find the source. – J.

I had fun planting Miniature Gardens in anything I could find.

I had fun planting Miniature Gardens in anything I could find.

Shop Miniature Gardens at Two Green Thumbs

Improving with experience, a true garden in miniature.

One of the early pots where I was not combining the plants properly. That yellow grass on the right, the Miniature Sweet Flag, will not do well living with the Sedums and the Spruce, it likes moist and some shade.

This group of Miniature Gardens was taken in 2004.

This group of Miniature Gardens was taken in 2003.

It's a little bit of miniature garden fun, every season of the year.

It’s a little bit of miniature garden fun, every season of the year.

Join us for the Anniversary Edition of the Mini Garden Gazette, sign up here.
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Subscribe to this blog over there on the right…~~>>

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5 Comments »

  1. Christine Constantine said

    Hello Janet, I recently purchased your patio mix kit. But I am unable to find miniature loose flagstones with which to make my path. Any idea where I can buy grey miniature flagstone? I do not have depth so the stones need to be no more than 1/8 inch thick approx. I am very happy with the items that I have from you. Absolutely love the koi!

    Like

    • Hi Christine, We have some for you! I’ll email you the details directly. Thank you for your kind words, Janit

      Like

  2. […] left to spread the word boot-strapping-grass-roots style – and spread it we did! Checkout the photos on this blog post from last year here to see some of our […]

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  3. […] one day I spent the afternoon trying to make miniature dress for one of our greeting card ideas. (It’s how we stumbled upon the idea of miniature gardening.) I finally finished the dress, whipped it out of the sewing machine, cut the threads and then […]

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  4. […] Thank you, Mattel, for adding us to your product line! We’ve been playing with you for years. […]

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