Archive for Garden as Metaphor

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.


Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

What Hens and Chick were left were a bit tattered. I haven’t found out why they aren’t doing well compared to the rest of the ground covers. We’ll fix them 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 him what we were there for. We’ve since named him “Gus, the Guardian of the Garden.”


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


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One Very Easy Way To Spread More Love


One Very Easy Way To Spread More Love

Want to spread love? Then do what you love to do. How easy is that?

Here’s what Siobhan McAuley from says about fixing a negative or sorrowful outlook. Siobhan is a personal and business coach based in Tennessee. If there was ever anyone meant to do the job that she does in helping people create the life that you want, it’s her:*

“Love is the answer and it doesn’t matter what the question is. If we’re always focusing our attention on the things that we love, we’re constantly creating an amplification of more things that we actually love… By taking that initiative to pursue whatever it is we love, regardless of the circumstances are in our life, we actually start to bring a wave of more of what we want into our lives.”

Siobhan is a gardener of life and we know that as gardeners, you reap what you sow.

So, sow away by making, creating and sharing what you love to do! Feel the amplified message grow inside you and know that if you ever need more love, you can easily create more love by doing what you love. Simple, huh? And may I recommend gardening in miniature? You knew that was coming, right? ;o)

(*I get no kickback from Siobhan for promoting her work. She is lifelong friend who has always been very curious about how to live our best lives. She’s a natural and gifted coach.

Happy Thanksgiving from!


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Miniature Mediation Gardens: Create Your Own Peace


Miniature Meditation Garden

Create a tiny garden place for calm reflection. It’s a gentle reminder to take a break and breathe – even if just for moment in the middle of your busy day.


Miniature Mediation Gardens: Create Your Own Peace

I wrote about about miniature prayer gardens back in September, 2011, and since then, we have enjoyed having a miniature buddha garden and a miniature gratitude garden in our office as a reminder to stop, breathe and say thanks.

See our assortment of Buddhas up on our online store - click the photo!

Laughing, sitting, standing, traveling Buddhas and more! See our current assortment of Buddhas up on our online store – click the photo above!

Prayer, thoughtfulness, meditation, personal reflection, deep thought or quiet time – whatever your preference – are activities that seem to get missed in our busy lives. Having a simple reminder or a “place to go” can help nudge you to take a moment or two out of your day and align your thoughts and emotions so you can carry on with a clearer purpose.

And a miniature garden is the perfect idea to help you do that.

Prayer garden, meditation garden, gratitude garden and peace garden are some of the general names that have come up. Miniature grotto, miniature altar, miniature zen garden start to get more specific as will the individual deities that you can include in your mini garden, Madonna garden, Buddha garden. A symbolic candle, personal charm or small photo can also stand in for the focal point. Rotate the accessories in and out of your mini garden whenever you want. As with all things miniature garden, never feel that it is a permanent decision; give yourself some freedom to play with your different ideas.

We went over some general guidelines in our “Little Altars Everywhere” blog that will help you create a wee sanctuary to evoke peaceful mindedness and calm. Here’s a quick review:

  1. Lots of plants.
  2. Minimum clutter.
  3. Pathways can evoke flow. (Of breath, of calm flowing in, for example.)
  4. Focal point can help keep your thoughts focused.
  5. Include a spot to visually sit or kneel to inject yourself into the mini space.

Now you can start to go into a bit more detail as you now that you’ve spent some quality timeAdS-LrgRec-Dog with your little garden altars:

6. Tend to the garden. Maintain the health of your plants. Snip off any brown leaves or dead branches. Gently wash off the branches with a soft rag. Or give it a tepid shower with water* then gently wipe the leaves. (If you don’t wipe the leaves, you won’t get rid of the dust. Yes, I know, you may have a lot of leaves but this task in itself is very meditative. ;o)

7. Aerate the soil. Use a fork to break up the top layer of soil if it is crusty. Use a skinny dowel to poke into the soil, going right down into the pot, and around the plant’s roots to get some air to them.

8. Wash and clean. Give your rocks, patios and accessories a wash or wipe. Use an old toothbrush and mild dish soap and give your accessories and furniture a bath. Sweep off the patio area, fluff and flatten-out the gravel on the path and patio.

9. Water well. Put it all it all back together and water* until the water comes out of the drainage hole on the bottom. If you are miniature gardening indoors, put the miniature garden in the sink or tub to do this and let it drain before placing it back. (Make sure you have a sink filter/screen to catch and prevent any chunks of dirt from going down the drain and clogging up your plumbing.)

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Mini Moss Meditation Gardens are now up in the Etsy store. Click the photo to see more.

10. Get specific. Use a symbol, figure, representation or icon that will direct your focus and attention exactly where you want it to go. Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, will help clear away your mental clutter. A pretty rock that says, “Thanks” reminds you to be grateful. A small figure of St. Francis will keep the Franciscan Prayer in your thoughts. Interchange or swap out the accessories whenever you feel the need or to get refocused on a certain thing.

Miniature gardening is an adaptable hobby that can be very personal, or you can share and explore it with others too. Arrange a workshop for your group or club to create a miniature garden altars or gratitude gardens. It’s a fun way to connect with others and you’ll get something purposeful and meaningful from it.

*Water from your taps – Let your tap water sit for a couple of hours before using it to water your plants so the chlorine can evaporate. Let the water come to room temperature too – as opposed to freezing cold water from outside. Your plants will thank you.

Here are some more ideas to get you started. The links will take you to either our online Miniature Garden Center or to our Etsy One of a Kind Store.

Mini moss meditation gardens

Sitting Buddhas, Laughing Sitting Buddha, Laughing Standing Buddha.


St. Francis of Assisi

The Thinker

Cherub on Pedestal

Like this? Then you’ll love our monthly Mini Garden Gazette, it’s free. Join here.

Miniature Garden Plants & Accessories

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It’s been a cold, wet, gray spring here in Seattle. I remembered this little gem I wrote a few years ago… I’m going to Aruba in my mind!

The Mini Garden Guru From

A Garden For All: Create your own vacation

Are you one of the many people that won’t be able to take a vacation this year?

One of the numerous benefits of miniature gardening is the ability to recreate any garden theme quickly and easily. Escape the winter weather and create your own tropical get-away for either your home or office, or, why not do one for both.

Here are two very warm mini garden themes to warm your soul and heat up your attitude: tropical and beach.

At this time of year, you can find tiny succulent and cacti plants at your local nursery, their indoor plant section should be stocked full of plants that are perfect for this purpose. There are a multitude of different kinds succulents, so I won’t even attempt to go through them here.

Just pick out a couple of…

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The Reluctant Miniature Gardener

The Garden Metaphor, acrylic painting by Yours Truly. 1997.

The Garden Metaphor, acrylic painting by Yours Truly. 1997.

My God, What Have I Done?

Sifting through the countless boxes during our big move over the last few weeks has made me realize just how many of my sculpture and painting ideas have been shelved to focus on this business of mine.

When I started Two Green Thumbs ten years ago, it was supposed to be a venue for my garden art and eclectic container plantings, not a Living Miniature Garden Center.

What happened?

Oh, ya, I think I can remember now…

After seeing my miniature gardens at the local street fairs and markets, people wanted to know how to make it themselves. They wanted to know where to get the right accessories, miniature plants that work, and authentic mini patios so they could play too.

But, ten years ago, there was nowhere to find any of these kinds of things.

So, I started in order to share my ideas and spread the joy of miniature gardening. I thought the challenge of starting a business would be a good lesson to learn and I really did want to.

But, the level sacrifice was completely unexpected.

Ten years ago, there were no miniature garden websites to tap for ideas and products – a luxury my competitors obviously have now. There was no website telling me what worked, and what didn’t.

There was nothing…

…only an artist, who was silly enough to start a national trend.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. It’s a holiday weekend. I’m burnt out. I’m going to find a paintbrush and my paints and throw something on a canvas before I completely loose it.

Have a happy 4th and a great Canada Day weekend – and remember to honor your own independence too.

Join the trend here.

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Garden as Metaphor: A Time to Heal

Plants can only do one thing at a time. When they do that one thing, they put all their energy into it.

Garden as Metaphor: A Time to Heal

By Janit Calvo
November 18, 2009

“How do you know the plant is established?”

That is one of the more common questions that I get asked when I teach beginner-gardeners about the joy of miniature gardening.

Did you know that plants can only do one thing at a time?

Have you ever seen a plant multi-task?

Visions of plants texting, doing the laundry, while simultaneously having a conversation and cooking dinner come to mind, but, that’s not what I mean.

Plants can only do one thing at a time. When they do that one thing, they put all their energy into it. They get it done so they can move on to the next thing on their agenda: rooting, growing leaves, flower and fruiting, going to seed, being dormant or dying.

While this is a very generalistic way of describing how plants grow, it’s basically what they need to do in order to survive.

Why don’t we do that?

When I fell sick late last week, I didn’t stop. I kept on going. Oh, sure, I felt okay, but I wasn’t getting better – I was maintaining. I was multi-tasking.

Then I got sicker.

“Alright,” I said to myself, “I’ll check out for a day.”

Then the phone started ringing and the orders were flowing in…. I called my helper/buddy in. We got some stuff taken care of, but I didn’t get the rest that I desperately needed.

If I had stopped and healed when I first felt sick, I would be much better off today.

Now, that said, I’m thankful that the global economy does not rest on Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, and I can take a couple of hours here or a day or two there….

But perhaps I should have acted more like a plant.

(Answer: You can tell the plant is established when you see new top growth. That is how you know the roots are finished growing for now, and the plant’s energy has shifted to growing leaves.)

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Garden as Metaphor: Roses will always bloom again.


Even in October, my roses are blooming again.

Even in October, my roses are blooming again.

Garden as Metaphor: Roses will always bloom again

By Janit Calvo
October 27, 2009

It has been a great pleasure, over these last few years, to meet fellow gardeners throughout the world via the Internet. Without this wonderful Worldwide Web, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

Every so often, one of my blog posts, or my wacky product ideas attract someone who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in miniature gardening per se, but the cute idea, or the new item, shows up on their radar, and a door is opened.

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak with Lynette – a cloche collector in California. It was my Mini Moss Terrarium blog that did it, she saw the wee cloches and they were a must for her collection and thus emails started.

And Lynette always ended her emails with “Roses will always bloom again.”

My roses were still blooming in September when we were emailing back and forth, so I commented at one point, that my roses were, in fact, blooming again. I then got the unique chance to hear the story behind Lynette’s signature line.

This fit in perfectly with my ‘Garden as Metaphor’ theme that I’ve been gradually adding to over the years. This is in Lynette’s words – I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, want to even try to rewrite this.

Thank you very much, Lynette for sharing. I know this will bring hope to whomever needs it – and it’ll always be a quote to remember during the heaviest days that life can bring:

The Rose Story

My German neighbor was 4 years old during World War II and her father was fighting in France. She and her sister, who was 5, lived with their mother and their mother’s parents in Northern Germany.

There were many air raids during the conflict, which sent all the townspeople to a large building in the center of town. They would hasten to the basement of this building and wait until the ‘all clear’ sirens would blow.

On one particular night, the fighting was fierce. England was dropping bombs from planes roaring down through the area. It was night and again, the townspeople ran to the safety in the building.

My neighbor and her sister were terrified.

The town had suffered much destruction and rubble was everywhere. The explosions and screaming of bombs and planes and gunfire all around was too much to bear.

My neighbor’s mother, sensing the unbelievable trauma her little girls were experiencing, kneeled down in the darkness of the basement sanctuary, pulled her little girls close to her and with her hands cupping their tear-streaked faces, promised them that it was all going to be okay …. roses will always bloom again.

In the last three years, we lost our 20 year business, my father died, my best friend died, I had emergency surgery and my husband nearly died in January of a horrible staph infection in his knee. Forty-five days in the hospital and our beloved Chihuahua died in my arms while he was in the hospital.

That same German neighbor left a small glass vase on my doorstep filled with about 10 rosebuds and a note taped to the vase, “Roses will always bloom again.”

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