Miniature Gardens vs. Fairy Gardens – What is the Difference?
This is an update to a blog that I published on the difference between miniature gardening and fairy gardening in 2010.
I opened up a little can of worms the other day on our Facebook page.
Thankfully, I’m a little hardcore when it comes to gardening and I like worms.
I had created a post for our Facebook page that linked to a series of fairy gardens on HGTV.com (link has been changed) and suggested that they should start hanging out with us “real miniature gardeners.”
I must admit, that was a bit hasty in retrospect, but I didn’t mean to offend anyone so here’s an explanation of where that comment came from.
The first picture in the album was the one shown above, with a couple of windows and a door nailed to a tree with a fairy in front of it. Inside the album, however, there were a couple of pictures that were very pretty little fairy gardens, and pictures of a fairy house and a gnome house – but they were all fairy gardens, not miniature gardens. HGTV had called them miniature gardens – thus the comment “that they should start hanging out with us ‘real miniature gardeners.'”
“Why?” asked Facebook follower Patti Sherwood, the founder and leader of the Miniature and Fairy Garden forum on Garden Share.com (This forum appears to be dead now.) “… because I truly believe that every attempt at creating a garden of any kind should be applauded and not criticized.”
That is STILL a great question, Patti.
But I felt like Martha Stewart. She is always made fun of because of her quest for excellence and perfection. But, you know what? She raised our game. Martha made us want for a better home and a better life through the domestic arts. Heck, we didn’t even call it “domestic arts” until she did! It was called housework and cooking. How unglamorous… until Martha came along and redefined it for us.
Yes, I think every attempt at gardening should be applauded, especially because plants help the air, reduce our stress, help the environment, and add comfort visually and emotionally.
“Lettuce define our terms.”
– Kermit the Frog
A “Little” History
The term ‘miniature garden’ used to be an all-encompassing phrase for any small sized garden, living or artificial. It could be as big as a
small backyard or as small as a thimble-sized terrarium. Dish gardens, bonsai, penjing, rock gardening, railroad gardening, gnome gardening, tray gardening, windowsill gardening, teacup gardening, terrariums, vivariums and Wardian cases (I’ve probably missed some.) were all called miniature gardening before the miniature garden hobby took off. Now, the terms have officially changed.
So here is the definition of miniature gardening.
And yes, it is my own definition, I can not think of who else would have the authority and perspective to define it so I’ll claim it. You’ll now find this definition on many websites.
Definition: A miniature garden is the perfect blend of tiny trees, plants, hardscaping and garden accessories that are in scale with one another to create a lasting, living garden scene or vignette. Miniature gardens are gardens in miniature.
That’s it, right there.
And as a leader and a professional (like HGTV.com) I feel it is part of my job to bring out the best miniature gardener in everybody.
So, when one is adding a fairy figure to a bunch of plants and calling it a miniature garden, that isn’t right, it is a fairy garden.
A window and door hammered onto a tree is not a miniature garden. It could lead to one – but I would be hard-pressed to even call it a garden. Where are the plants?
A sign propped up in the corner with a fairy a pebble path is a fairy garden, not a “miniature garden” even though it is cute as a button.
And the “Our Favorite Miniature Gardens” on the HGTV.com site was an album of fairy gardens.
The Big Boys Aren’t Getting it Right
It’s interesting to note that these types of big “garden” websites seem to not really care about being precise nor do they seem to care about teaching the right things to their viewers/readers.
I found another great example of this from the Better Homes and Gardens website recently, where they called a planted jello-mould a ‘terrarium’ and proceeded to plant up a dish garden incorrectly, (the charcoal layer is a filter and goes on top of the gravel,) called it a bundt pan, and used plants that have completely different watering and light needs – THEN they put a pebble path and a wee bench in it, technically making it a miniature garden. It is SO not a terrarium, it isn’t even funny. See it here.
I was a bit floored after viewing so I posted it in one of my independent garden center forums and asked if this type of information should be corrected by us, the professional gardeners in the industry. I had several store owners chime-in and basically said, “So what? It’s cute and it will sell fast. They’ll have to come back and buy more plants!”
Oh. Dear. I was under the impression that customers are people that trust independent shop owners to sell them the right solutions that will work – not die. If a customer just wants to buy plants from an untrustworthy source that will die, that’s what big-box stores are for. :o)
So it seems that some store owners just want sell you anything and these big websites just want the traffic for their advertising revenue. BUT why they mis-inform their customers/readers leaves me very perplexed when it is just as easy to create and teach proper content?
Gee, I guess I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years, but at least I can sleep at night. Please enjoy our ad-free website and online store where we care about our customers, the information and the products we sell ~> ONLY at TwoGreenThumbs.com apparently!
What do you think? Am I being too picky about nomenclature? Leave a comment below about my current definition of what we do here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and help us define what we do so we can continue to share, enjoy and create living miniature gardens.