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10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the US

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The Wonder of Garden Shows: the Philadelphia Flower Show.

10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the U.S.

I just got back from the huge Philadelphia Flower Show last Monday and I’m still reeling about the show. It was awesome. This is my third time going to this show and it truly is the best garden show in the United States hands-down. Here are 10 reasons why.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

I missed getting this volunteer’s name but her hat is divine…

1. It’s All About Volunteers

The Philadelphia Flower Show is hosted by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and is completely organized and driven by volunteers. The simple fact that it’s built by volunteers takes the pressure off the money and puts the focus back on the plants, education and gardening.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

All protein, no carbs! Lol! This show doesn’t have any filler-booths with food or junky home decor. The booth space is always sold out too.

2. It’s All About the Plants

95% of the show is about gardening, plants and the environment – including the marketplace. You won’t find rows and rows of food vendors hawking their mustard, nor a whole sections of shabby-chic indoor decor just to fill up the booth space.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Collaborating with other professionals and businesses forces them to come up with more and more creative solutions each year. This show just keeps getting better and better.

3. They Collaborate

As you walk through all the exhibits and competitions you notice that all kinds of schools, universities, garden clubs – and kid’s garden clubs, societies, museums, art galleries, small businesses plus a large number of visual artists and floral designers are involved throughout the show in many different ways. It seems no one is pigeon-holed into only having one way to participate.

The huge garden displays are built by many different companies to create wonderfully creative displays that are dramatic and memorable. There were a number of displays representing different countries as well. How refreshing!

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

One of the many different displays of artwork made from the garden! How awesome is this necklace??

4. They Think Outside the Garden Bed

Among the garden displays are many different categories of garden art made for the garden and from the garden. Sculptures, paintings, abstract arrangements of all shapes and sizes, Ikebana, and jewelry – my favorite – everything is made from nature but it never looks like it!


Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There is always a strong art-element to this great show. This is just a small part of the 1280 square foot mural that was in the middle of the show.

5. They Love Art

OMG. I can’t say enough about how the PHS and the city of Philadelphia work together to promote the arts. Not only does it make a great flower show, it makes for a great city too. Giant tulips sticking out of buildings and huge bronze sculptures – art is everywhere in Philly!

6. It’s Very Accessible

The Philly Flower Show is held in the Philadelphia Convention Center which is right on top of train station. Easy for everyone.

7. They Give Back

Proceeds from this show drives the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s “green” projects for around the greater Philadelphia area. A great example is their Tree Tender Program  plants over 2000 trees annually, since 1993.

8. They Keep Growing After the Show

The PHS has a very long reach into garden education and outreach programs that happen throughout city and state for the rest of the year. They have community gardens, parks, public landscapes that involve thousands of city residents “to make the city a more livable, likable and vibrant place to live and work.”

This year the Philly Flower show added a “Water Summit” to their agenda that was open to everyone – and for anyone. They brought in leading environmentalists and industry experts to educate us on real-world solutions to the issues we face in keeping our fresh waters clean and drinkable.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

My Best of Show pick from the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit. The artist is Nancy Grube.

9. They Honor Different Ways to Garden

Within the show itself, the different classes of competitions help to remind us of the many different types of plants and trees that we can grow AND they encourage and inspire us to do so. But, more importantly from my perspective, they include our beloved Miniature Gardening. They have two classes of miniature gardening PLUS the Miniature Setting Exhibit which is one of the best attended exhibits with a constant line up from the time the show opens right to when it closes.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The PHS honors many types of gardening. This is just a fraction of it – the Wardian case competition.

10. It’s Not About the Money

It’s about community, education, the environment, art and gardening. Sure they need to make money to keep it going, but that’s not the focus – the people are. Yes, there is a marketplace within the show for shopping, but most of the floor is devoted to the exhibits with a few stages for education sprinkled throughout the floor plan.

And, its official, I’m jealous. Lol!

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There were a lot of lovely displays by floral designers too.


Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The garden displays kept going and going… it’s always lovely and inspiring!


Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

While some of the displays were totally out of the box, other displays could easily be replicated at home. Very inspiring!


Our Gardening in Miniature book set! Shipping is included with this set – and let us know if you want them autographed!


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Miniature Gardening at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Yep! This is it. Lol! It’s was the only miniature garden that I found at the “second largest” garden show in the country. It’s a cake. Where did everyone go?

Miniature Gardening at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Yeah, I would rather be miniature gardening too. Lol!

Well, the big Northwest Flower & Garden Show was held here in Seattle last week. As usual, I scoured the show for evidence of our wonderful new hobby and found – — wait for it — a cake. I couldn’t even eat it either.

And, that’s it.

The Swanson’s Nursery booth had some fairy garden tchotchkes, and Robert from Pacific Northwest Bonsai was there with his bonsai and accessories, and there were a few mini garden plants found in with the full-sized plants, but nothing for the miniature garden hobby. It seems that everyone has made their money and moved on which really means, they were only into it for the money, honey.

We did get a nice spot on the bookshelf in the show. :o)

Well, have no fear, we are here! And, we love gardening and miniatures  – and, okay, who doesn’t love money? – but we’re not a trend-chaser and never have been.

Won’t you join us? Here are a few ways to do it:

1. The world’s only Miniature Garden Center solely dedicated to the miniature garden hobby. We didn’t go the way of the fairies when it was trending because the gift and garden industries were pushing it so hard. (A note to the powers that be: there will be fairy gardeners still fairy gardening after the trend wanes!)

2. This blog. It’s the only  blog solely dedicated to the art and craft of gardening in miniature. Congratulations for standing apart from the crowd with us!

3. Our Mini Garden Gazette is the only newsletter solely dedicated to… you know where this is going, right? Sign up through our headquarters at

4. The Miniature Garden Society. We’re not exactly keeping the dance alive at the MGS, we’re still creating the music and the choreography! This hobby is DEEP and very creative and we’ve only just begun even though the Society is 3 years old now. Learn more about us here.

We did have a blast meeting everyone who came for my demo! Thankfully my out-of-the-box ideas were well received and I did get a chance to make ’em laugh. Thank you to all who joined us!

Why doesn’t Two Green Thumbs Miniature Gardens vend at this show anymore? It was toooooo stressful for just two people to do and hold-down an online store too. We don’t have a garden center full of employees that need something to do during the winter. We would then go into our busiest-season completely burnt-out. We tried it for three years, three different ways and it just wasn’t fun.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show is a difficult show for any vendor but with the show using more than half the space that used to be the plant market for food and thrift-store booths now, it’s simply not an interesting show for the experienced gardener any more. The show promoters also added a conference for “industry professionals” which takes away from the vendors who spent all that time, money and energy setting up for the show. I think they need to decide on whether is a country-fair show for people hawking their wares, or a conference for industry professionals or a garden show for gardeners. IMHO.

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

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Miniature Garden Plants: Miniature Settings Exhibits Vs. Real Miniature Gardening

Miniature Gardening at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature Garden Displays: Miniature Settings Exhibit Vs. Real Miniature Gardening

NOTE: The photos in this blog are from the 2014 show. The Miniature Settings Exhibit has since changed hands, and the quality of the exhibits is apparently very different from what you’ll see here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is home to the only major Miniature Garden Settings exhibit in the world – and it happens to be one of the most well attended exhibits at the show too. I’m on my way there in March where I will be speaking at the Gardener’s Studio stage on Saturday, March 10th at 2pm, the second Saturday of the show to promote my second book, Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop: Handmade Accessories for Your Tiny Living World.

When I finally saw the gorgeous miniature displays in person last year, I realized it was completely different than the type of miniature gardening that I have taught for well over a decade. I knew it was different, but it wasn’t until I received this email last August that I realized other people didn’t know the difference – even some of the people who are participating in the exhibit.

“Dear Janit,
I have been invited to show in the miniature class in the next Philadelphia Flower show and not too long ago ordered several plants from you. Unfortunately a few of the plants were way too big in scale to be used, one died and another is on its way out. It seemed like a great deal of money and I was sorry I spent it for so little return. I, therefore, will not be ordering from you again and could not, in good conscience, recommend you to anyone else.   [Name and location removed]”

Whoa. It’s like I took her $75 and hightailed it to Mexico. Lol! Yea, our type of miniature gardening is well, gardening!

Right plant, right place works for miniature gardens – and all types of gardens, wherever you are and whoever you are. Plants are the great leveler of society, they only care if they did not receive the right growing conditions, and not money, nor fame, nor status – nor any nasty email – can change that.

This poor woman spent almost $75 on a Slowmound Mugo Pine, Dwarf Hens and Chicks, Mini Sweet Flag, Gemstone Hinoki Cypress and Piccolo Balsam Fir that included the Tansu Cryptomeria and Jersey Jewel Japanese Holly. Had she asked if any of these plants were ideal for her project, I would have cautioned her about how to use them – and the fact that they are outdoor plants would be first on my list.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings – The Birds by Louise Krasniewicz. Click to enlarge the photo and you will see a blend of young plants, plant starts, indoor and outdoor plants. This method of growing and combining plants works wonderful for the settings exhibit, but would not be expected to last if it was planted as a miniature garden.

And what she didn’t notice is that all the pot sizes are mentioned in the text and shown in the photo with my hand as a reference to the size of the plants.

I hope she didn’t plant these all together because would be a disaster: The mugo pine and hens and chicks are outdoor plants, love full sun and drier, well-draining soil. The Mini Sweet Flag prefers wet soil, shade and can be grown indoors and the rest are outdoor plants, prefer evenly damp soil and part sun/shade.

All these differences and growing details are always mentioned in each listing underneath the multiple photos of each plant in our online store.

Thankfully, I’m from “the east coast” and knew that it was just a misunderstanding, albeit an irritating one. I wrote her back explaining the difference, included some references and wished her luck in the exhibit.

But despite my compassion for teaching and sharing the joy of gardening in miniature for almost two decades, I’m human and the email did ruffle my feathers a bit. I haven’t stayed in business for over 18 years by supplying the nation with miniature plants that don’t work. I didn’t fill the bestselling book on the hobby, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, with false pretenses and nor did the world’s top horticultural publisher, Timber Press, print a book filled with wrong information. Why did she jump to such radical conclusions? Because people hate being wrong.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

A close-up of Louise’s garden beds – they were impeccable. She plays with rooting cuttings and uses them while they are young. Begonias and succulents are her favorite. That burgundy colored plant is a very young coleus. The wee garden bed looks perfect! (Click to enlarge.)

So, Janit, What is the Diff?

Dr. K of the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit blog has put together a database of the plants used in the exhibit. It’s a work in progress and she has about 300 plants listed so far. I’ve scanned through the list and yes, there are plants that we use that can last for years in our miniature gardens but majority of the plants aren’t for our type of gardening in miniature.

The exhibit is only supposed to last for about two weeks and sometimes the plants have to be switched out either due to being too stressed out because they are growing in abnormal conditions, or they are growing too fast.

Here are some observations on their techniques and examples of plants that won’t work for a long-lasting miniature garden. I imagine the artists have many more and I look forward to learning more from them.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

This is the Mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Pamela Goldman. Young date palms are combined with air plants, Sedums, young begonias and small-leafed perennial starts. The effect is superb but the combination is not expected to last long.


Miniature Settings Exhibit Techniques

– Over-planted: Almost all the displays are deliberately over-planted to look lush and full.

– Temporary: It is not planted as a garden that is meant to stay together for years like we do. It’s only meant to last the for the show.

– Mixing Plants: The artists plant indoor with outdoor plants, light loving with shade loving because, again, the display does not have to last long.

– Fast Growing: Ground covers and rockery plants are a favorite because they can be grown quickly and the young plants add color and texture to the miniature setting-scene. Examples: Lamium, Veronica Speedwell, Candy Tuft, Pileas – all plants that I would NOT recommend for the real miniature garden because they are too fast growing.

– Young starts: A number of the plants are really young babies that we’re grown for this purpose only. Plants are swapped out during the show if they get too big. The artists have more plants growing behind that wall for this very reason. Here’s more…

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Settings Plant List from Dr. K.

This is Dr. K’s long plant list from her Birds display from last year’s show. You can see the wide variety of plants used in just one setting. The task of creating the display and planting the tiny gardens is an art unto itself and I don’t think it could not be done any other way.

Miniature Settings Exhibit Plants Explained

– Seedlings, Starts and Young Plants: The exhibitors cultivate plant starts, or use very young plants that mimic full-sized garden plants. The leaves and stem are usually the perfect size and the variety of textures look fantastic in the wee garden beds – but it’s not going to last. Examples: Polka Dot plant, Kalanchoe, Creeping Jenny, Catnip, Lavender, Rosemary, Sorrel and even culinary Thyme is suggested as a miniature plant. All these plants will grow up within one growing season and will not stay miniature.

– Unusual Plants: Depending upon the topic of the scene, some of the plants listing in the database are plants that have surreal look, instead of being an ideal plant for a miniature garden, regular-sized Aloe and the Living Stones (Lithops) for example. Bog-loving plants, like the Bog Rosemary are listed – I would not grow a miniature garden in a bog. And fragile plants or plants that are fussy to grow are not on my list of favorites either simply because life is too short to fuss, examples are the Maidenhair Fern and the Mimosa.

I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions about the different kinds of miniature garden plants used in this fabulous display at the Philly Show – and I hope the display is still fabulous under this new management. It is much different than real miniature gardening if you take the time to notice, unlike our friend who wrote the nasty email to me.

If you have any further questions or comments, please leave them below. I would be glad to know what I have missed.

Come and see my talk and demo at the show! I’m on at 2pm, Saturday, March 10th, 2018, at the Gardeners Studio Stage. Here’s the PHS website for the show, I’m not sure when they’ll have the event calendar done.

Join us – but only if you want to know more about “real” miniature gardening! Sign up for our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter to get in on the fun here.

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book








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Miniature Gardening on the East Coast!

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book tour is on its way to the East Coast! 

Miniature Gardening on the East Coast!

Come one, come all! Come and play and laugh and get inspired! This is serious! Lol!

Hey, I’ll be at two different venues THIS weekend. Come and see my Plow & Hearth Very Fairy Christmas House Renovation to see what YOU can do with your fairy houses! I’ll be decorating the house for the holidays throughout Thursday evening, November 2nd, from 4pm to 7pm at the Plow & Hearth, Marlton, NJ, store. Be sure to print out the coupon below just in case you find something you like – they have a bunch of new miniatures this season. (Or keep it on your phone, I’m sure that works as well.)


AND I’m at the largest miniature show on the east coast, the Philadelphia Miniaturia show, note that Friday night is the preview night that requires a special ticket – here’s the details:

Philadelphia Miniaturia Show
Friday November 3rd through Sunday November 5th 2017

To be admitted on the 3rd, you must purchase a preview ticket for $25 (covers full weekend admission)
Preview hours are 6pm – 9pm Friday and 9am – 10am Saturday

General Admission – Show hours Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 11 – 4. Daily admission $10 Adults, $4 Children under ten

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ.


Can’t make either? Join us for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette each Friday (this Friday is an exception.) Sign up here.

Want to jump in and dig deeper? Check out our Miniature Garden Society Community Website here.

And for everything miniature garden and then some, check out our new website at


The Miniature Garden Society


Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

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How to Make the World a Better Place: Vote With Your Wallet, Part II



How to Make the World a Better Place: Vote With Your Wallet, Part II

I have written previously about using your wallet as your voice as to what products you want to see on the store shelves – and leaving the poorly made crap behind to show that, as a consumer, you don’t like it nor want to see it. Well, it’s about time to dig a little deeper on this one.

Because it’s important to note that this applies to business-to-business relationships too, because it seems that some of us have gotten used to being mistreated, bullied or disrespected by some leaders in our industries.

The good news is that we no longer need to tolerate bad behavior and this is actually having a ripple-effect throughout the world, as you can see by the news of late.

Miniature Garden PlantsSo, we need to vote with our wallets a lot more carefully nowadays because we need to support the good guys. We need to support the companies that care about what we value, and care about the environment. We need to support kindness and compassion. We need to support all the good in the world and only focus on the good.

There is no other way out of this mess that we have found ourselves in but to take a stand against the negativity, waste and disrespect that we’ve come to regard as a “normal” way of doing business. Stop to think about it for a second – do you want that company or individual to continue to get progressively worse? Or to learn to do better?

Here are some questions to get you thinking about how you can make the world a better place just by being more aware of WHO you are patronizing and supporting as a paying customer in any way.


  • Is the company/association that you patronize run by a good person? Are they friendly, understanding and compassionate? Or, do they rule with an iron fist, bully, yell and scream if they disagree with something?


  • Is the association that you’re paying to be a member of, have the same values that you do? Or are they selling themselves out, (and, in turn, they are selling you out too,) for the sponsorship money or advertising revenue?


  • Is the product your thinking of buying made from a reputable company with a strong moral compass?


  • Is the product that you are buying future landfill? Can it be reused or recycled?


And then the rest is simple: just don’t buy it. That’s it. 

These are just a few thoughts to let you know that you can be proactive with whatever you do in little ways that can easily add up to taking a giant step toward making the world a better place. If you don’t like your own answers, maybe it’s time to stop buying into their negative ways because it can be a simple as that.

Grow your own world.



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Who Else Wants to Grow Their Own World?

Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

Click the picture to register for the WorkSHOP, from 2 to 4pm. Or come by and check out the Trunk Show anytime between 2 and 6pm. Either way, you WILL leave inspired, I guarantee it. 

Who Else Wants to Grow Their Own World?

You’ll go home happy and truly inspired. I know that for a fact because everyone that has taken a workshop with me has not only gone home pleased-as-punch, but a bit giddy too. Lol!

So come and get your own miniature garden together with us! We’ve chosen our favorite miniature garden kit because it’s good for indoors, or outdoors in the greater Seattle region. Indoors, it will need bright indirect light – if you don’t have it, I have a very easy solution for that too – AND it’ll match your decor!

It’s also a book signing! Come and pick up your copy of the NEW Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop: Handmade Accessories for Your Tiny Living World – hot off the press! You can finally find out what the fuss is all about!

Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

This is the miniature garden that you will make at the WorkSHOP on July 15th! A calm, serene little scene that you can call your own. You don’t have to design it like it did, either – you can do you own thing because, after all, it is your own world. :o)



Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

The WorkSHOP is only $75 and it includes learning all about what plants, parts and pieces to use so you can build your own miniature gardens at home, anytime you want to – or anytime you need a great gift to give!! The class supplies, if bought separately, will cost you almost $100 + shipping! (Yes plus shipping, because you simply can’t get some of this stuff at any brick & mortar store!)


Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

I’ll be bringing more miniature gardens, garden accessories, fairy garden ideas and dollhouse garden miniatures too! The Trunk Show is on during and after the WorkSHOP and goes to 6pm! 



Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Dig Deeper with our New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book! Come and get your autographed copy at the Trunk Show and WorkSHOP too. Copies will be available at The Handmade Showroom even after this event. 

See The Handmade Showroom’s website here.

See the Pacific Place’s website here – there is parking!

See Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center here.

See for everything you need for this wonderfully creative hobby here. 

Like this? Want a FREE dose of miniature gardening almost every Friday? Join us for the world’s only newsletter on the hobby, The Mini Garden Gazette! (scroll down a bit. :o)

Gardening in Miniature with Janit Calvo

Click the picture to register for the WorkSHOP! The Trunk Show is on until 6pm the same day! 


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UPDATE: Miniature Garden Therapy Mission: Spark Joy!

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

Operation Spark Joy continues! Steve and I headed south to the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Wa., to check in on the garden and to decorate it for the Fourth. 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier’s Home

Hey! It’s working! The response we’re getting from our miniature garden that we built on behalf of The Miniature Garden Society at the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Wa., is collecting some terrific feedback! As we mentioned in the first blog, and as I was reminded of when I was speaking with one of the staff members, the staff is enjoying it just as much as the residents are. Lol!

But, I didn’t prepare for the one “being” that loves it too: SQUIRREL! I knew they were a bit of a pest from the feedback from the other gardeners, but I didn’t expect to lose entire plants to them. Our go-to method to deter these critters is cayenne pepper, (see our squirrel-blog here,) but it’s a public garden and I will never be sure who’s going to play in it. I am going to try planting larger plants instead, with deeper roots.

Anyway, here are the updated photos, click to enlarge (but I’m not sure this works on all platforms.) If you want to compare them to the initial planting, it’s here. You can see a lot of the more-fragile plants didn’t make it – and they were mostly Sedums that didn’t have a lot of roots at the time. An interesting lesson.


Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

Our farmer’s fields will start to look better in the fall. The silo is holding up well. 



Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

The micro gravel around the base of the silo was completely gone, so we hid the board with soil instead. I’ll need to think of a better solution that won’t wash away when the garden is watered – oh yeah! That’s my Mini Patio Mix Kit. Lol!  


Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

What Hens and Chick were left were a bit tattered. We’ll fix it next time! :o)



Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

This chair was one of my experiments for my new Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book that is making its way to your local bookstore – or find it up on our online store here. I found an easier way to do the stars that became the project in the book. 


Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

We met Gus this time and he told us that he keeps people from touching the garden all the time – he told us to keep our hands off too before we told hin what we were there for. We’ve since named him “Guardian of the Garden.” Lol! 


Find out how to make this Tree Dress that is very quick and easy to install, from our NEW Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, click the ad above!

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