A Look into the Future: Miniature Garden Trees

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

From the cover of the bestselling book on the subject: Gardening in Miniature: The Elf Dwarf Spruce stays in a tight canopy and gradually gets bigger as the trunk lifts the canopy off the ground.

A Look into the Future: Miniature Garden Trees

It’s that time of year, Fellow Miniature Gardeners, the time for new trees, new plantings and new ideas realized. It’s been a long, cold and dreary winter for a large part of North America, and it’s still going in some parts with snow last night. Ugh! I feel your pain, I’m a transplant from Toronto. Please hold on. Spring is coming! Also note that we can hold your order until spring arrives in your area. Simply place your order through our online store and then email us to tell us when to send them! Purchase reserves the trees. Easy-peasy!

If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know that we’ve been miniature gardening full-time since 2001. With that kind of intensive, relentless focus, we have had the opportunity to watch how the trees grow-up to see how long they can stay a miniature garden tree. I think it’s safe to say, a long time!

It came as an “uh-oh” moment over a decade ago when I was selling the completed miniature gardens at street markets and craft fairs: I realized I needed to keep some miniature gardens to know what these trees look like when they grow up. I started collecting my own gallery of miniature gardens so I could share the results with you. Here are just a few of them shown in the miniature garden, and I’ve included a “regular” photo from the grower’s website – it’s how the plant would look if we left it alone and did not shape it into a miniature tree.

From photo above – see the growing details of the Elf Dwarf Spruce here.

Reminder Memo: “Dwarf” and “miniature” describe the growth rate, not the plant. Dwarfs grow from 1″ to 6″ per year. Miniatures grow less than 1″ per year.

Tompa Norway Spruce – Picea abies ‘Tompa’

The Tompa Dwarf Spruce was labeled a dwarf when I planted it in this container 10 years ago – now the grower calls it a miniature, with a growth rate of less than 1” per year. So easy to grow, it never complained at all. After 10 years, I grew impatient and needed to see what was going on and unplanted it – but I didn’t have to, it could have stayed in that pot for another couple of years, I think.

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

Here’s what the Tompa Norway Spruce looks like when you buy it from our Miniature Garden Center in a 4 inch pot.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

Here is what the Tompa Norway Spruce looks like if it is left alone to grow in a “full-size” garden bed. Quite handsome!

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

And here is the Tompa Norway Spruce in the miniature garden, after about 6 years with no pruning. The purple flowers are from the Ajuga, which is fairly aggressive in-ground but surprisingly very well-behave in a container.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

And here is the Tompa Norway Spruce, after over 10 years of growing in a miniature garden container. I pruned into a tree by cutting away the lower branches to show more of the trunk.

Intermediate Sawara Cypress – Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Squarrossa Intermedia’

This little ball of goodness grows up into a fun shape that can suit a number of themes or garden-styles. If you leave the Intermediate Cypress to grow, it will get leggy like the photo of the miniature garden below and “grow-up” to be an informal tree form. If you shear it every winter when it is dormant, it will stay bushy and full (it’s great for topiary.)

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

This is how the Intermediate Sawara Cypress looks like when you buy it from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

This is what it looks like when planted in a “full-sized” garden and left to grow.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

And this is what the Intermediate Sawara Cypress looks like, left to grow with minimal pruning. The tree to the right is a Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly. I’ve left this garden a bit over-grown, it has a “sister-garden” that’s formal and I use them as bookends in the garden.

Top Point Dwarf White Cedar – Chamaecyparis thyoides ‘Top Point’

The Top Point Dwarf White Cedar is a very versatile tree. It does well in many zones, included the southern states, where not all conifers appreciate the warm, humid temperatures. I think you can shear it to encourage bushiness and branching, check out the difference:

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Top Point Dwarf White Cedar – how it looks when you get one from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

This is how it looks when left alone to grow in a regular, full-sized garden bed. What a great color and shape!

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

And how the tree looks in the back of a miniature garden after a few years living in the same pot. The two shrubs on either side are White Pygmy Sawara Cypress that are just starting to flush out in their creamy growth for spring. The “grass” or the Irish moss is surprisingly tolerant of the limited space to grow, I’m not usually that lucky with this plant, and after 2 or 3 years, it usually needs to be replaced.

Blue Star Juniper – Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’

The Blue Star Juniper was a little surprise to see as it grew up – it really takes on the look of a big, fluffy tree in miniature. Drought tolerant, loves the sun and the stars on the tips of the branches keep me delighted throughout the year. It really is a super star! It loves well-drained but evenly damp soil and can tolerate some dryness – but not too often nor for too long.

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Blue Star Juniper, how it looks when you get it from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Blue Star Juniper if left alone to grow in a full-sized garden. Look at that blue color!

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

And the Blue Star Juniper after a 3 or 4 years in the miniature garden. I keep the leggy branches in check with a little winter pruning.

Slowmound Mugo Pine – Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’

The dwarf and miniature pines are a delight to grow and can work well in the southern regions with evenly damp soil – plant it in part sun to help maintain the even dampness – but it can tolerate a little dry soil from time to time. Just don’t let it dry out too often for too long.

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

Slowmound Mugo Pine in it’s 4 inch pot from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Slowmound Mugo Pine after many, many years in a regular garden bed.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Slowmound Mugo Pine after a few years in the miniature garden. Next winter, I’ll top-prune it to keep the overall shape in check and see if it needs some more pruning on the lower branches to show some more trunk. Once an accessory is placed next to it, it will cinch the scale.

Moonfrost Canada Hemlock – Tsuga canadensis ‘Moonfrost’

This charmer is a favorite with the colors changing throughout the year, but it can be pruned into a tree form. Winter shearing keeps up the color changes, otherwise it will stay a celery green color all year.

See the growing details, up in the store here.

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock in its 4 inch pot from .

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

If left alone in the full-sized garden bed. She sure is pretty!!

Miniature Garden Trees from Two Green Thumbs

Pretty lil’ thing! The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock, shown here after about 3 years in this pot. I’ve left out the accessory on purpose so you can see the tree.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette ~> a FREE monthly newsletter of all things miniature garden. Join us here. 

Miniature Gardening

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3 Comments »

  1. Karla Sears said

    so glad I subscribed to your news letter…I never thought about actually “planting” a mini garden in the ground…have a lovely space and what to have the “eastern” feel to it. Thought I was stuck to only Bonsai, these are so much more flexible! Can’t wait to browse your store!

    Like

  2. […] – About how the trees grow, includes photos of established plants in regular full-sized garden beds […]

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  3. […] photograph above, as it looks today. It was planted around 2004, here it is in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2014. (The garden is 12 years old, with one unnecessary repot, the tree is about 3 or 4 years old when […]

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