An Inside Peek at the Miniature Plants in the Award-Winning Gardens

Laney's Miniature Garden
Laney’s Miniature Garden. Laney got a new camera so I thought to show off a clearer picture of her garden that won Honorable Mention. Laney lives and gardens in Mississippi.

An Inside Peek at the Plants in the Award-Winning Gardens

Everyone had a ton of fun with the Annual Miniature Garden Contest and it was great to see such a variety of plants and personalities. After years of holding miniature garden workshops, I can safely say, no two miniature gardens are alike – just like the people who made them!

There were some questions on the plants used in the winning gardens so here is a list of the plants with a little bit of insight from a fellow MG (Miniature Gardener.)

Glenna's Miniature Garden
Glenna from NY won Best Miniature Garden in a Container.

Best Container: Glenna’s planter should stay together for a few years, with some maintenance every two to three years with diving the ground covers to keep them from spreading too much. The trees and shrubs can be pruned back gently every now and to control their direction and their growth rate. All the plants in this pot are ideal for full sun, regular water but let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering. The plastic pot will help keep the soil damp too. A great combo visually and horticulturally.

Clockwise from the back back left corner:

– Thyme-Leaf Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster thyminifolia (July’s blooms turn to September’s berries, prune in late winter to keep its shape and to slow down the growth rate. Pronounce it Kaw-tone-ee-ass-ter.)
– Irish Moss, Sagina subulata (under the Cotoneaster, divide every 2 or 3 years.)
Elfin Thyme, Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin‘ (an ideal miniature plant)
– Irish Moss, Sagina subulata (again, bottom right corner)
– Fairy Moss in the Pond, Azolla (also called mosquito fern, duckweed fern, water fern)
***Aggressive grower! Illegal in TX and LA. Keep contained at all times. Do not dump in waterways. Please be responsible about this one! ***
– Platt’s Black Brass Buttons, Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ (looks like mini ferns! Here is the New Zealand variety with prettier tones throughout.)
*Aggressive in-ground. Prune judiciously in spring, divide every year to keep it from running.*
– Mother Lode Juniper, Juniper horizontalis ‘Mother Lode’ (it’s a ground cover shrub so it stays low, loves drier soil and full sun.)

Karen's Miniature Garden Pumpkin Village
Karen’s Miniature Garden Pumpkin Village is in CA.

Best Halloween: Karen’s Pumpkin Village leaves us thinking, “Where could I do that?” Lol! The moss in the top trough looks like a type of sheet moss found in MA, where Karen is from. The planted trough in the front should last for years, again with some maintenance with the ground covers. The big-leafed plant that you see throughout the garden, I think are Forget-Me-Not self-seeded-starts – a weedy, self-sowing perennial that I bet Karen will pull out when it starts to grow up. This is a nice grouping for part to full sun with regular watering. Again, let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering.

Bottom trough, from the very left side:

– Juniper Blue Star, Juniperus ‘Blue Star’ (I think, it is cut off in the photo, loves the sun.)
– E1 Evaluator Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘E1 Evaluator’ (green ball to the left of the ladder, part sun to full sun, will maintain that ball shape.)
– Sedum button, Sedum dasyphyllum (the blue-green plant at the base of the ladder, flowers in summer, wait for new growth at the crown, then shear back.)
– E1 Evaluator Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘E1’ (another green ball to the right of the ladder, a rare, sloooow grower.)
– Scottish moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’  (front, cascading down, needs dividing every 2 or 3 years, can be grown in part sun or full sun.)
– Golden Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, Chameacyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’ (grows slowly to a nice upright, broad shape, can stay in that container without blocking the village for about 3 to 4 years.)

Mary Jane's Miniature Garden
Mary Jane’s Miniature Garden is so on-trend with the pretty blues! From NE.

People’s Choice: Mary Jane’s miniature garden is very on-trend with the pretty blue patio and pot. She could move this garden indoors for the winter if there is plenty of light for the boxwood tree. Outside, if the container is in full sun, the boxwood may get an orange cast to the leaves that is called “winter bronzing.” The green color returns quickly after the weather warms up in the spring. To avoid it changing colors, give the tree more shade. This pot will do well in part shade or even indoors in bright indirect light, with regular watering – let the soil dry out to barely damp in between watering sessions to avoid overwatering. This pot should be able to stay together for a couple of years before the ground cover, Blue Star Creeper, needs refreshing.

– Graham Blandy Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’ (tree in center, see above paragraph for growing tips. We normally don’t recommend a lot of fertilizer for our miniature garden plants, but the boxwoods will need some during the growing season.)
– Blue Star Creeper, Pratia angulata (underneath the tree, and I think she has the runners growing up the trellises. I’ve read somewhere that this can be grown indoor too.)

Debbie's Miniature Garden
Debbie’s Miniature Garden is in CA.

Honorable Mention: Debbie from CA gets a little clever with her plantings if I have identified them correctly! I’m was never good at “guess that plant” when I was working at the nursery but I’m going to make a stab at it now. This combo is great for warmer regions in full or part sun, the Cryptomeria needs regular water (but not wet) but the soil around the Jade will need to be left to dry in between watering sessions. To get around this, water only the Cryptomeria regularly and check the soil close to the Jade by poking your finger an inch down to make sure it is dry before watering.

From left to right:

– Jade Tree, Crassula ovata, (trimmed into a tree form)
– Japanese Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica (tree behind the bench, a baby conifer. Prune away bottom-most branches for more a tree look. Part sun, regular water.)
– Scottish moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’ (right-most plant, will need dividing every 2 to 3 years to keep it fresh looking. Part sun to full sun.)
– Fairy Moss in the Pond Azolla (also called mosquito fern, duckweed fern, water fern)
***Aggressive grower! illegal in TX and LA. Keep contained at all times. Do not dump in waterways. Please treat responsibly.***

Laney's Miniature Garden
Laney’s Miniature Garden.

Honorable Mention: Laney from MS has got it going on in this sweet scene for part sun/part shade location. The row of Monteray Cypresses along the backside can be sheared (in late winter) to slow down the grown and to shape it into a full hedge. Otherwise, most of the other plants are slow growing. This combination should be able to stay together for years with minimal maintenance by dividing the ground covers every 3 or 4 years.

Clockwise from top left:

Monteray Cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’ (also called Lemon Cypress makes up the row of lime colored plants along the backside. Indoors or outdoors in more temperate climates, regular water dry out to damp in between.)
– Hokkaido Japanese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia ‘Hokkaido’ (behind the red arbor, part sun to full, cool sun, will drop it’s leaves in the fall, loves pruning, fragile.)
– Dwarf Mondo Grass, Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ (the perfect grass for the miniature garden. Loves shade, can tolerate sun and indoors too. Tiny lavendar flowers in the summer.)
– Baby Tears or Fairy Tears, Soleirolia soleirolii (the ground cover throughout the garden, an aggressive spreader in some areas but perfect for pots. Great for shade, part shade, indoors in bright indirect light.)

About Laney’s Pond plants: Laney layered in clear resin in the pond to get the koi at different levels. The lily pads with flowers are resin and were stuck into end layer. This took several days to do as each layer of resin had to dry before layering in another.

To see all the pictures of all the entries, visit last week’s blog here. It really is the variety that keeps us interested and growing in this wonderful new-again hobby!

Want more? Join our email list for your FREE monthly Mini Garden Gazette here.

Visit our store for more ideas and eye candy here.

7 thoughts on “An Inside Peek at the Miniature Plants in the Award-Winning Gardens

  1. Reblogged this on lovelyseasonscomeandgo and commented:
    these are beautiful, I had two mini gardens in my yard and well the cats was always knocking them over and the elements took away their beauty. so how do you keep them looking so good and from being destroyed by the neighborhood pets.


    1. Hi S & W!

      What kind of plants do you have in your miniature gardens that are so interesting to the cats? Perhaps try some true miniature or dwarf conifers – and other plants that the cats don’t like or don’t care about. Also try bigger containers do they aren’t so tippy, or balance out the plant/pot proportions to the pots are not top-heavy.

      To get your miniature garden looking better with age, try using plants that are suited for it – and suited for your area. Again, the true miniature and dwarf conifers do very well over time, as do any any of our plants that we suggest in our online store. Here’s a link to see the examples:

      Here’s a blog about the plants we use: and you can also visit the many posts about miniature garden plants by doing a search for “plants” in the search bar in this blog. Hope that gives you some more insight into what works! – Janit


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