Robert’s Truly Magical Indoor Miniature Water Gardens

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
Miniature gardening with Robert from with his magnificent indoor water gardens. The tiny deer tells the scale.

Robert’s Truly Magical Indoor Miniature Gardens

~ With garden show season just starting next week, I’m reminded of all the great miniature gardening that I’ve enjoyed at the Philadelphia Flower Show over the years. This one is par-ti-cu-lar-ly awesome from 2015. Meet Robert Dekker, my super-hero:

~ A funny thing happened the other day at the Philadelphia Flower Show. A fellow miniature gardener from the Miniature Settings Exhibit told me about this booth in the show with huge wall displays that were filled with a miniature gardens, complete with a working waterfall and creek. She was very impressed and it was something I needed to see. When I sought out the booth, I saw Robert Dekker’s name tag and immediately said, “Hey, I know you!” Can I say it’s a small world within the miniature garden world? Robert had called us a few times during his experimental stages and now I finally know what he was talking about. They were gorgeous.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
The atmosphere changes as you get closer to the garden. Similar to a large active aquarium, it is serene and surreal.
Miniature Garden Plants is Our Specialty!

Robert and his son, Stephen, have spent the last few years developing and growing very impressive indoor miniature gardens – really living works of art. His background is full-sized water-scaping and you can tell that it has translated well into his miniature work. Every plant and rock is placed just so-so-perfectly in the mini landscape built inside a bookcase-type hutch adapted to hold the water reservoir and pump for not only the waterfall and creek, but a timed, self-watering system too.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
I could identify a few of the plants, but not all. The  tree on the left side and almost center, are Juniper. Up on hill, on the left are Elwood Cypress and I think the stand of trees, upper right, are Boulevard Cypress. All have been trained in shape and nurtured to grow in this indoor environment.

Did you get that? The whole piece is a self-contained miniature forest for indoors. Wow. It would be absolutely perfect in a large living room, waiting room or lobby. I want one.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
The under story plants are combinations of tolerant perennials and small-leaf indoor plants. Miniature brass buttons and Baby Tears mingle with Pileas and Begonias

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
The garden is self contained within the hutch. There is a drawer for the reservoir and another for the timer system.

But what left the most impression on me was the serene, comforting feeling that the garden gave me when I walked into the booth. The world dropped away and I could feel the presence of nature that only a large, fish-filled aquarium could deliver. It was so peaceful, serene and, well, completely magical. Who needs a TV when you have one of these?

Note that the plants Robert has used is a mixture of indoor and outdoor plants. The ground-layer plants are a combination of Mini Brass Buttons and Baby Tears that can he has nurtured to handle the year ‘round indoor temperatures. The trees are mainly outdoor plants that he has trained to grow in this particular environment. Robert spent years of experimentation with different combinations of fluorescent and LED lighting to get to this stage. He was careful to consider the type of light that would shine into the room too. In other words, he’s thought through everything!

See more photos and get in touch with Robert through his website at He is based in the New York / New Jersey area. If you get the chance to see these works of art in person, I would highly recommend it.

Like this? Want more miniature gardening? Join us here for your Mini Garden Gazette. See our new headquarters at Shop your favorite Miniature Garden Center here.

Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
This second miniature garden had Hinoki Cypress trained to look like forest trees. You can see now, without an animal, figure, or man-made item, the scale of the garden can look smaller.
Miniature Garden Center
Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
The faux rocks in the back of the mountainscape merge expertly with the real rock used for the waterfall and creek.
Miniature Gardening at the Philly Show with Janit Calvo
Baby Tear cascade out the front of the scene, welcoming visitors in to get a closer look. I wanted to stay and play.
Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

5 thoughts on “Robert’s Truly Magical Indoor Miniature Water Gardens

  1. This is beyond a doubt the most amazing miniature garden (forest) I’ve ever seen. I would love to see it in person. You’re right–even the photos make me feel serene. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Priscilla Copass 03/04/2015 — 7:57 am

    .I have been drawn to your site with the memory of my Grandmother making a miniature garden for her “Home Demonstration Club”, in St. Petersburg, Fla. during the 1940’s. She made dolls for me, and she included a tiny little girl on a swing hanging form a tree she had purloined from the faeries that lived in our real garden.
    I love your site, and look forward to seeing the wonderful new things you discover; Robert and his son have done a fantastic job of bringing the great outdoors into our living rooms. Would that I was magical so I could shrink and set up a tent beside the babbling brook and enjoy the solitude. Thanks to Robert, and you for bringing peace into my world.

    Priscilla Copass
    Solvang, CA.


    1. Thank you for your kind note. It’s funny, I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has come up to me and told me of doing this with their grandmother. (My grandma was a full-sized tree-lover.Lol!) It’s been really fun re-introducing this wonderful hobby to the world.


  3. Hey, I’ve noticed all the garden pics I’ve seen are horizontal tanks. I was wondering how to go about a more vertical garden. Don’t have the space for a large horizontal piece but definitely can get a nice vertical space.


    1. Hi Heather, Great idea! That would be a question for Google as I’m not experienced with this way of gardening. You can search for “large terrariums” but the plants & methods used for vivariums might be another way into this idea – just ignore the animal part of the equation.


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