Miniature Garden Design: Tips from the “Big” Garden Experts

Miniature Garden Design Tips

This was one of my very first miniature gardens that I created with ONLY the foliage in mind – I didn’t consider the plant’s needs. The above combo simply will not last. The Miniature Sweet Flag (the yellow grass) needs moist soil and part-shade, the Mops Threadbranch Cypress and the Doone Valley Thyme (in front) need well-draining soil and full-sun. The crane sculpture has been discontinued.


Learning Miniature Garden Design from the “Big” Garden Experts

Prior to writing my first book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, I stayed away from any garden or miniature

Miniature Garden Design Tips

A favorite combo in our popular Indoor/Outdoor Miniature Garden Kit. Clockwise from the left, Variegated English Boxwood, Baby Tears and Dwarf Mondo Grass. The greens match, the textures are different.

book for the past 5 years so I could keep my voice and view completely original. And now that my book diet is over, I’ve been binging a bit. Um, ya, I bought 15 books within one week – and it’s been really, really fun having a stack of great garden books around, cherishing and wading through them one-by-one.

What has this got to do with miniature gardening? If you are just as obsessed about this miniature garden topic as I am, just about every garden book has some sort of miniature garden idea within its pages. So, here is the first of my book reviews – but first let us back up a bit.

Gardening in miniature, despite the misleading tie to fairy gardening, is all about gardening. It’s about creating a space with plants to enjoy ourselves, get some peace, exercise our creativity and/or illustrate who we are through our choices. It’s no different than planning your “full-sized” garden or decorating the inside of your house to reflect your personality – except we can do anything we want in miniature.

So, after we know what miniature garden plants to use, how do we find out how to plant them so the garden looks beautiful? Well, we turn to the full-size-garden experts to see how they do it. (You laugh – but what else do I call them? ;o)

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

There’s a brand new garden book that will help us fine-tune our plant choices called Fine Foliage, by Christina Salwitz and Karen Chapman. It is an excellent example of how we can learn from full-size-garden experts.

Miniature Garden Design Tips

From another Miniature Garden Kit (now sold-out.) The whites of the White Pygmy Cypress (top) match the centers of the wee Hens and Chicks. The green colors of the Cypress and Elfin Thyme match but the textures are completely different.

Fine Foliage is a fun little book at 8” x 8” square, and the focus is on – you guessed it – foliage. And damn-Fine Foliage at that. Christina and Karen have assembled approximately 122 combinations of different types of plants, for sun and shade, plants that can be used in-ground or in containers. The best part of the book is the “Why this works” section within every combination. Do you want to get inside a couple of designer’s heads to “see” how they think this stuff through? You got it right here in this great little resource.

Christina and Karen have created the perfect demonstration of what we advise  – to match or complement the colors of the plants, and mix-up the leaf textures – and this design rule works for the tiniest of gardens too. If you’re wondering why your miniature garden doesn’t look right, this could be the case.

Checkout the Fine Foliage website for the ordering information and for more, ongoing design tips from Christina and Karen here. Keep a copy of Fine Foliage handy, you can definitely apply it to any garden project.

Do you have a book that we can apply to miniature gardening that you would like me to review? Feel free to get in touch with me at Note that I will only do positive reviews.

Like this? Want to learn more about miniature gardening? Join us here.

Expert Garden Tips

Fine Foliage is a great book to “see” inside two expert garden designer’s minds. Learn how they put plants together to create a knockout garden of your very own – full-size or in miniature.

Miniature Garden Patio Solutions



  1. […] Learning Miniature Garden Design from the “Big” Garden Experts Prior to writing my first book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, I stayed away from any garden or miniature …  […]


  2. Insight For Seattle-ites: Christina Salwitz, a.k.a. The Personal Garden Coach, works at Furney’s Garden Center in south Seattle on the weekends. You can get expert garden advice from a professional gardener and garden coach!


  3. janegerow said

    Reblogged this on The Secret Language of Flowers.


  4. […] in oversized pots and containers, you have the space to bring more “garden” to your project, learn different techniques and watch the plants and trees grow in and weave themselves together. I go further into depth in […]


  5. […] Here’s more about learning from the “big” garden experts here. […]


  6. Wanda F C said

    This is cool ;D


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