Archive for D.I.Y. Ideas

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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How to Swim in Soil

An in-ground miniature garden just needs a mulch of compost each spring to keep the soil nutrient-rich. Save your fertilizers for your annuals and vegetables. The bee house is about 1 inch tall.

How to Swim in Soil

I’m a self-taught gardener. I don’t like unnecessarily complicated things. When any topic gets too scientific or complex, my eyes glaze over and I start to think about lunch. With our already hectic lives, some think we must know about the microcosms and ratios in our potting soil or garden soil in order to be a gardener, but – don’t tell anyone – I don’t. I haven’t. Because I don’t need to.

Now keep in mind, I’m a gardener. I’m not a grower. I don’t have a greenhouse. I don’t have any sort of grow-your-own set-up here at my backyard nursery. I have tried it but growing my own stock but it just isn’t where my passion is. I do grow my own veggies and annuals from seed for my full-sized gardening adventures, but that’s where it stops. However, if you are getting into growing seriously, you will want to focus on the content of your soil.

There’s an old saying that if you have $1 to spend on your garden, spend 90 cents on soil, and 10 cents on plants.

And I’ve written about soil before, it’s the first chapter in our popular Miniature Gardening 101 Series: The Dirt on the Soil. And, I talk about it in here, How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot.

But what about all the different kinds of potting soil out there? What’s the diff? What do we use for miniature gardening? What will work best? Oh, and how much? Grab a cuppa, and let’s get down to the roots of the situation, shall we?

“If you are making mistakes it means you are out there doing something.”

For Pots and Containers

For all containers, use organic potting soil. Note that a lot of companies have hooked their wagons to the “organic” trend and, well, soil IS already organic, so isn’t that redundant? Not in this day and age, unfortunately. By organic, I mean without any added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers.

A great example is Miracle-Gro soil. It’s everywhere now and everyone sells it only because they have the money for marketing it. (It’s made by Scott’s. Monsanto owns Scott’s. Icky.) You’ll find somewhere on that bag of soil it will say ‘organic.’ But those added fertilizers and water-retaining polymers is the WORST soil you can use for your miniature garden or fairy garden simply because of the extra “stuff” in the soil. The extra fertilizers burn the roots of our plants and trees and those polymers don’t let the soil dry out often enough, then the roots can’t breathe – with that lovely combo, our plants that we recommend for the miniature gardening die.

What I love to see on the potting soil bag is that it’s from a local company. If the garden center that you frequent are worth their salt, they’ll have a variety of soil products from companies in your area or thereabouts. If you don’t see it on the store shelf, ask for it. The request will get back to the manager/buyer and they’ll know customers are looking for a local choice.

Soil for miniature gardening or fairy gardening

How Much Soil Do I Need for My Miniature Garden Container?

Because some of our plants are really tiny, it is miniature gardening after all; you might be tempted to put the tiny plants in a big pot to let them grow in. This is called “swimming in soil” and the reason this will not work is that the water will not stay around the root ball where it is needed because there is too much soil in the pot. The water wicks to the bottom of the container, away from the plant’s roots and all is futile. A basic rule of thumb is any new plants need to transplant in pots that are 2” to 5” bigger or wider. If you’re planting a group of plants, take the total of all the pots combined.

This chart was taken from my Gardening in Miniature book that has all the garden basics you need to get started in the miniature garden hobby.

Soil chart for container gardening

From the bestselling Gardening in Miniature book.

Note that 1 cubic foot bag of soil or compost is about the size of regular pillow. There are about 25 quarts in 1 cubic foot. So, using the chart above, a pot that is 8 to 11 inches wide, will take almost half a bag, or half a cubic foot, to fill it up. Note that the depth of the container isn’t accounted for in this chart but, it should say “width and depth” of pot. But here’s an awesome soil calculator for you to bookmark here.

In-ground miniature gardening

Instead of removing the grass, we planted on top of it mainly because we found clay in all our garden beds. But I always found that by the time I cleared the patch of lawn, I didn’t have the energy to do any gardening so I was all for this easy way to prep a garden bed!

For In-ground Miniature Gardens

Use compost. That’s it. Soil is compost but will have many more nutrients in it than bagged topsoil. Just spread the compost on top of your soil each spring, and you are done!

If you are just starting an in-ground garden bed of any type, try our type of lasagna gardening. Lasagna gardening is really ‘composting in place’ but that means that you have to pay attention to the ratios, layers, timing and materials… (Oh gee, what’s for lunch?? :o)

BUT what Steve and I did with our new garden beds when we moved to our house in 2010 was incredibly easy and worked like a charm. We laid a long piece of rope down to outline the edges of the new garden bed. We covered the grass with heavy cardboard, piled as much compost on top as we could on top, cut in the edge of the garden bed and installed the border. Then planted the garden in the compost. Done.

We top it up each spring as much as we can. Now the garden bed has settled down to ground level but it works better for the miniature garden scene than a mound – the paths and patios stay level and the watering doesn’t mess everything up.

Got questions, compliments, concerns or complaints? Leave them below.

Do you love miniature gardening? Then you’ll enjoy our weekly Mini Garden Gazette – sign up here.

Janit's Mini Garden Etsy Store

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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Indoor miniature gardening

An indoor miniature garden with a Monteray cypress and a Sugar Vine.  This pot is about 12″ wide.


More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Don’t you just love this hobby? The seasons changing can only mean another miniature garden and now you can make one for the indoors! Do you want a wee beachy-garden scene to get you through the cold months? Or, create a miniature gratitude garden for Thanksgiving? Let’s recap what you need to know, and then follow with a few examples of the different indoor miniature gardens we’ve grown over the years.

Ten Golden Rules are from The Houseplant Expert, Dr. D. G. Hessayon, my favorite go-to book for indoor plants and a great reference for your bookshelf. Here’s a quick summary of his top 10 adapted for miniature gardening.AdS-LrgRec-Dog

1. Don’t drown them. Roots need air as well as water. Let the soil dry out until barely damp. Put your finger down into the soil about 1” deep to test and yes, your finger is still the best way.

2. Give them a rest. Plants need less water and feeding in the winter. Some plants may not look as good, or need cutting back, before the new growth signals their return. Be patient and follow the plant’s signals.

3. Accept the loss of “temporary” plants. Some plants are not meant to live more than a season or two. Some miniature gardeners treat outdoor plants as short-lived houseplants during the winter. The Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce, or the Pixie or Pixie Dust, is often used this way because they are true miniature Christmas trees.

4. Give them extra humidity. The average houseplant needs more humidity in the winter as the forced-air heat dries out the air quite quickly. By misting or grouping your houseplants around your miniature garden, you can maintain a better level of moisture in the air around the plants.

5. Add light. There are all kinds of plant-friendly light bulbs that can fit regular lamps, find them at your local hardware store or online. Instead of trying to position the miniature garden in the window, now you can put it anywhere as long as you have a lamp on it. Use a timer to turn it off and on for at least six hours a day, 8 to 12 is ideal. Shop lights come in a variety of sizes as well and many are available as a plug-in (as opposed to hard-wired.)

5a. Direct Sunlight. Some indoor plants enjoy a dose of direct sun but do so if you know for sure that the plant will enjoy it. Otherwise, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the direct sunlight to make it safe for all your plants. ALSO, watch that sunlight beaming into your windows in the spring and the fall. As the sun moves higher in the sky in springtime, and lower in the sky in the fall, the direction of the sunbeams will change inside your house too. All of a sudden you’ll may a sunbeam beating down on your miniature garden that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago. This is where that sheer curtain comes in handy again.

6. Treat trouble promptly. With Google at our fingertips, there is really no reason not to be able to identify a plant-problem quickly and easily. State the problem plainly; name the plant and search under Google Images to find it faster. For example, “brown spots on parlor palm leaves.” Search at least two or three sites to get a better perspective of the solution. Not everyone is an expert out on the Internet, most often the most simple and natural solution is best.

7. Know when to re-pot. When the plants start to look sickly after a couple of years, then it may be time to re-pot. Look for the roots growing out of the bottom drainage holes to know when.

8. Choose wisely. Right plant, right place. You can’t grow a sun-loving plant in a dark corner nor can you grow a shade-loving plant in front of a sunny, southern window.


Recommended Tools:

  • Water can with a long, narrow spout to get the water through to the bottom of the plants. Get used to how it pours before using indoors or you’ll make a big mess the first time.
  • Mister – but know which plants like more, which like less.
  • Saucers AND protective pads with plastic on one side, felt on the other. Don’t trust any pot or saucer on your good wood surfaces. Use an extra moisture-barrier-pad recommended for plants with a plastic backing to avoid wicking. I’ve seen cork mats, but I’m not sure if they wick moisture or not.
  • Organic fertilizer. Avoid chemical fertilizers of any kind, the plants just don’t care for it and it builds up in the soil.
  • Soft sponge for cleanup.
  • Old kitchen spoon for re-potting and fork for raking.
  • Scissors or small garden shears – or both.
  • indoor Potting Soil – Use potting soil without any extra fertilizers or moisture-retaining polymers. Look for an organic, indoor potting mix for a general-purpose soil that will be okay for most of your houseplants. Succulents, cacti and African Violets need more drainage material, like vermiculite or Perlite.

You will notice that there is not a lot of variety yet in the plants that are shown here. That is because I killed the rest of them. Yep. I tend to kill indoor plants a lot better than our outdoor plants. The plants shown here are some of the tougher plants I have found for gardening in miniature. For the most part, I’ve included the plant’s names, and the growing notes under each photo.

Indoor miniature tropical garden

A Parlor Palm and Norfolk Pine anchor the garden, filled in with miniature Aloe and Hawarthias as the understory. The Pine was left in its original poly pot to help keep the roots damper than the other plants. The lagoon-shaped pond adds to the theme. (“Janit Calvo’s Lagoon Pond” is now discontinued.) This pot is about 22″ in diameter.

Indoor miniature gardening

One of our all-time most popular plants, the English Variegated Boxwood stands alone to make a simple gratitude garden for a sunny spot. This pot is about 8″ wide.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

A baby Parlor Palm on the left and a Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood on the right. This miniature mediation gardens need regular water and bright light. This pot is about 8″ wide.

Shop Miniature Gardens at Two Green Thumbs

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The tree in the back is the Variegated English Boxwood, to the right is Dwarf Mondo Grass, a small-leafed succulent with an elusive name ;o), in the foreground, two Kingsville Boxwood shrubs. Needs regular water with bright light. Sedum cuttings in the urns will last a few months before needing replacing. Large size or one-inch scale accessories. This pot is about 20″ across.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The same garden as above, but with medium size, half-inch scale accessories and gravel mulch in the garden beds. You can see how the smaller accessories are swimming in such a large pot, but also notice how big they make the whole garden appear.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A custom-made miniature garden planter from England. Elwood Cypresses on the each end, Dwarf Mondo Grass behind the urn, sedum cutting in the urn, a small boxwood shrub to the right of the bench and baby tears as the “ground cover.” (Get in touch with me if you want more info about this handmade planter.) This garden needs bright, indirect light and a very cautious watering schedule as this box has no drainage holes. This container is 21″ wide by 9″ deep.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A finished project from my book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World. Clockwise from the tall Elwood, to the left is a Sugar Vine (Cissus striata,) Baby Tears and a Variegated English Boxwood. Bright light with regular watering, the Sugar Vine will need cutting back every year to slow it down. This pot is about 12″ wide.

Shop Two Green Thumbs

Indoor miniature garden

A simple Fairy Vine and a handmade trellis is the perfect place for an daily empowering message. The “boulder” anchors the garden and makes it look established. This pot is about 7″ across.

Indoor miniature mediation gardening

Our Complete Indoor / Outdoor Miniature Garden Kit has our three most-durable indoor plants, from left to right: the Dwarf Mondo Grass, Variegated English Boxwood and Baby Tears. The Kit includes the stone, Mini Patio Mix and different accessories. This pot is about 10″ across.

Indoor miniature gardening

An impromptu miniature garden centerpiece for Halloween that I made a few years ago. It lasted about three weeks before it turned to mush. I would try this again with a taller pumpkin – the candle burnt the top of the “greenhouse.” The pumpkin was about 10″ in diameter.

SEE more of our plants that we recommend for indoor miniature gardening here.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette! A FREE monthly newsletter filled with news, tips, how-to’s, seasonal to-do’s, and exclusive offers. Join us and thousands of other miniature gardeners from around the world here.

Gardening in Miniature book

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Decorating Your Fairy Houses for the Holidays

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

Decorate more than just your full-sized house for the holiday! A project adapted from the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book for a demonstration at the Plow and Hearth store in Marlon, NJ.

Decorating Your Fairy Houses for the Holidays

I took a couple of pages out of my Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book for a recent Plow and Hearth demonstration earlier this month at their Marlon, NJ store. It was fun getting messy while meeting several fairy gardeners that came to see what I was up to!

For this demo, I turned one of their fairy garden houses into A Very Fairy Christmas House with a little paint, glue and detailing that took about 2 1/2 hours to do. Needless to say, I could have crafted for another 2 1/2 hours!

This Fairy Christmas House project was adapted from the Fairy Haven project in the Prop Shop book. Check out the photos below for more ideas:


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

This is the fairy house that is in the Prop Shop book. What you can use is just about anything within a fairy’s reach. The Prop Shop book goes over multiple ways of attaching different items to the resin house. 


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

The same fairy house used in the Prop Shop book before the renovation. The end result will look nothing like the house you started with! 



Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

This was one of the first fairy houses that I customized. I always wanted a pink house and this is currently the only way I can have one. Lol!


ANNIVERSARY SALE! Get both books for $35 PLUS FREE SHIPPING! (Until 11/30/17)


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

The second fairy house I customized was for a Seaside Fairy Garden for client north of Seattle. This one was a fun one – I loved playing with one theme and pushing the boundaries of what I could do with it.


The Miniature Garden Society

A Private Community of Like-Minded Miniature Gardeners! Click the logo to learn more about this wonderful new adventure! 


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

If you use your customized house outside in your fairy garden where it can get weathered and aged, just plan on giving it an update every year or so. Everything weathers in the garden!


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

The Seaside Fairy House before the renovation photographed in our front miniature garden.


Find your Plow & Hearth Fairy Houses here.

Love miniature gardening? We do too! Join us and thousands of other miniature gardener for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox each Friday! Sign up here.


Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Find the Fairy Haven renovation instructions inside the new Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book along with 36 more projects designed specifically for the miniature garden – written by a miniature gardener! 



Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

A Very Fairy Christmas House! We are ready for the holidays! 

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28 Miniature Garden Ideas for Halloween Decor DIY

Miniature Garden Ideas for Halloween

28 Miniature Garden Ideas for Halloween!

28 Miniature Garden Ideas for Halloween Decor DIY

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here are 28,000 of them right here in this new 28 Miniature Garden Ideas for Halloween Decor DIY video! Easy Halloween do-it-yourself decorations that you can make for your miniature garden, fairy garden or railroad garden. The crafting days are upon us so let the fun begin!

You’ll find a ton of more ideas on diy miniature accessories now up in the Miniature Garden Society, a private, community website dedicated to everything miniature garden!

See what is up in your Miniature Garden Center Store now!

Scared yet? Like this? Join us here for more fun in the Miniature Garden!

Miniature Garden Ideas

The Miniature Garden Society

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New Format for Your Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter & Video Letter About Miniature Topiary!

New Format for Your Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter: Video Letters!

They say a picture says a thousand words. I wonder how many words a video says? Lol! Join me and thousands of Fellow Miniature Gardeners for you weekly dose of miniature garden goodness via VIDEO! I’m only starting to scratch the surface on what I can show you!

Today’s video is all about creating topiary for the miniature garden. See it here.

These videos will only be through the Mini Garden Gazette newsletter (sign up here) and archived in The Miniature Garden Society where they will be added to and expanded upon as we move forward. This is still a brand new hobby so we are still assembling all the many delicious insights, how-to’s and to-do’s as we go. Join us here, for yourMini Garden Gazette Newsletter. Join us here forThe Miniature Garden Society where we are digging deeper and dreaming bigger!

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

The Miniature Garden Society

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New Adventures in the Miniature Garden

New Adventures in the Miniature Garden

Hey Fellow Miniature Gardeners! There’s something new growing-on here at our Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Studio here in Seattle. I tried a video letter for last week’s Mini Garden Gazette newsletter and, well, the response was terrific! And it was fun. And it was easy. Who doesn’t like that?

So, I’ll be doing a short video letter each week for the Mini Garden Gazette newsletter that will give you a dose of inspiration, a tip to add to your arsenal or a technique that you can apply to your gardening in miniature. Sound fun? Sign up to join us here.


Links from the above video:

Mini Garden Gazette newsletter signup – the ONLY miniature garden newsletter for the hobby!

The Gardening in Miniature: How to Create Your Own Tiny Living World – a primer for the hobby!

Miniature Gardening 101 Series – a quick series to get you jump-started. – we’re digging deeper and dreaming bigger!

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center – serving the miniature garden hobby since 2001!

Thank you for watching and thank you for reading!


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