An old Tompa Dwarf Norway Spruce that is now about 16 years old is STILL 10″ tall. The cone shape resembles an Alberta Spruce – but in miniature. I cleared away the bottom branches to make the shrub into a tree. Hardy to zone 3 (-40F), it’s tough and holds up well around kids and dogs, loves full sun and grows very slowly. For in ground or containers.
MORE Effortless Growing With Proven Miniature Garden Plants
This is a continuation of an earlier post, on miniature plants for miniature gardening, fairy gardening and/or railroad gardening. When I first started the search for plants that will work well in the miniature garden 16 years ago, I found a number of miniature and dwarf conifers that were perfect to use and sold as “railroad garden plants.” Since then, the gardening in miniature niche has grown slowly into a international pastime and the growers have responded to the demand – thankfully. But, the question remains, how do they age in a miniature garden? What do they look like after a few years? Here are more examples of how our favorite miniature and dwarf plants can grow into perfect majestic trees in miniature.
If you have been following us for a while you will recognize the Tompa Dwarf Spruce shown in the 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 we get them from the grower.) The flowers at the base are Ajuga reptens ‘Chocolate Chip’ or Chocolate Chip Bugleweed – that’s been in the pot with the Tompa for years, I just trim back the runners each spring.
I think this photo was taken around 2010, just after we moved into our house. That is the same Ajuga planted at the base of the Tompa. And this was before I limbed-up the bottom branches to “show some leg.” :o)
Tompa Dwarf Spruce
Cedar Trellis (made in the USA)
Terra Cotta Brick Sheets
A 6 or 7 year old Mugo pine stands about 5″ tall in our larger miniature garden. The Mugos are tough too. They hold up well around dogs and kids. Hardy to Zone 2 or -50F (burrrr!) Drought tolerant when established in the garden bed and they are perfect for containers. Mugo pines can handle that hot afternoon sun but if it’s in a pot, don’t let the soil completely dry out.
The Valley Cushion Mugo Pine has a spreading habit so the tree will stay very compact, low and flat, wider than tall. As the trunk lifts the canopy up off the ground, place smaller scaled miniature underneath it to make the Mugo appear huge. Click the photo to see more photos and care information.
Our Trees and Bonsai
Some of our trees come “pre-bonsai” and are grown specifically for that purpose, but they are PERFECT for our miniature gardening, especially in-ground where you need bigger trees for a more of a presence. Some use our regular (meaning, not “pre-bonsai”) trees and shrubs as bonsai starts too – but if you grow it in a miniature garden for a couple few years before “bonsai-ing it” (technical term ;o) you’ll have a much thicker trunk and branching system to start with.
The growers are growing smaller. A response to the miniature garden and fairy garden trend. Use a few of the 2″ potted trees in the same miniature garden to create more of a presence. Planting the young trees together, (not touching though, let the air circulate in between them) when they are so young will help them through the extremes – they are still babies, after all. Okay, all together now, “Awwwwww…” Click the photo to see more.
A young Thoweil Hinoki Cypress growing happily in the corner of our miniature in-ground garden. It’s in dappled shade, that is Baby Tears at the base of the tree. When the top foliage flushes out a little bit more, I’ll trim up the leaves at the bottom of the trunk and it will instantly look like a tree.
See other Hinoki trees in miniature here.
Thoweil Hinoki Cypress
I’m a bit biased, however, I love all the miniature and dwarf hinoki cypress, but I’m looking forward to watching this Thoweil grow up. It grows into a narrow, upright shape that will make a perfect anchor tree for the garden. Hinokis are hardy to zone 5 or -20F. This is the Thoweil Hinoki Cypress in a 4″ pot. The tree is 4 to 5″ tall here.
The tiny Thoweil is also available in a 2″ pot. Clean out any dead foliage from inside the tree when you see it. It is how the tree exfoliates and it needs your help to get rid of the dead stuff when the tree is young. Older Hinokis and conifers can get rid of this dieback naturally.
Another fun surprise as a great miniature garden tree. The Humpty Dumpty Dwarf Alberta Spruce is the real deal: a miniature version of the majestic Alberta Spruces in our forests all over the US and Canada. This one has been “limbed-up” to make it look more like a tree. The tree is almost 10″ tall here and is about 12 years old, I suspect. We’ve had it in this container for at least 8 years and when we get them from the grower they are about 4 years old. Click the pic to see more.
It’s charming in the 4″ pot. Hardy to zone 2 or -40F, sturdy and durable. Spruces are drought tolerant when established in the garden bed. Remember that plants are about 15 degrees LESS hardy when planted in pots.
Humpty Dumpty Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Doghouse (comes with the food dish & rawhide ;o)
See more on miniature garden design and combining plants with texture and color too.
Want to dive deeper into this wonderfully creative hobby? Join us at the new Miniature Garden Society, a private members-only website that is full of everything miniature garden with a lot more to come! Learn if it is good fit for you here.
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