Archive for Miniature Plants

Back to the Future: Predicting The Miniature Garden Hobby

Miniature Garden by Two Green Thumbs

One of the first miniature gardens that we sold in 2001. The patio was made of sand and glass. This was built before I invented our Mini Patio Mix Kit, now anyone can create a custom, permanent patio that won’t wash away when you water nor when it rains.

Back to the Future: Predicting The Miniature Garden Hobby

It’s funny how an iconic movie from your childhood can make you think of the past, present and future at the same time. As kids we gobbled up those Back to the Future movies over and over. We all wanted to be Marty McFly and jump to the future to see what our family would look like too. The movie did a great job in making 2015 seem so far away it was unfathomable to think of.

Well, funnily enough, we predicted the future in our own way here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.

Tiny Gardener in a Tiny Mini Garden

We relied on tiny toys and dollhouse miniatures found at a local miniature store here in Seattle, Dolly’s Dollhouse.

Being the first business dedicated to the art and craft of miniature gardening, I forged ahead and just started it in 2001. Who knew that creating a business with no customers wasn’t the thing to do? Scouring business books for start-up information was the only thing I could find, the Internet was very limited at that point, but hey, you could order books from the library on it. Nowadays, all you have to do is input your question and Google will provide.

The history of Two Green Thumbs

Courtesy of the Wayback Machine (linked below) you can see where we first got the domain in 2001 and then got it up and running in 2004. Before the online store, we sold through eBay. (Click to enlarge.)

Wayback website:

Back to the Past: How to know if it was a good idea?

So how did I know if this miniature garden idea had legs when there was no one else doing it? It was my Ontario College of Art and Design training. During my last thesis Keepin' it real in the miniature garden with TwoGreenThumbs.compresentation with my painting instructor, Paul Young. I asked him how do I know if it’s a good painting or not? How do I know if the painting is finished? He said, “Now that you are the artist, if it excites you, it will excite others.”

In the first years of Two Green Thumbs, there were times where I would just be overwhelmed with ideas and stopped in the middle of my studio, trying to synthesize all the potential in my head. At the weekend markets, where we tested out the idea for years, there were people who would just stop in front of our booth and stare at the miniature gardens. There was no talking to them during this trance either – they were trying to get their head around the notion of a tiny living garden in miniature too. Witnessing this trance fed my desire to bring the idea to the world and, amazingly enough, we did, one person at a time.

And, needless to say, if you are a miniature gardener you don’t need me to tell you just how juicy this idea is. How often have you been lost in your miniature garden world?


Jump to the Present

Miniature garden by Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

The first miniature gardens were over-planted a little too much, and quickly outgrew the pot within a season, with little regard to the plants needs. We quickly learned “right plant in the right place” applied to miniature gardens too.

Nowadays, everyone is on the fairy garden bandwagon in some form or another. Stores that quickly copied our business model years ago, duplicating our inventory and launching their own online stores now focus on fairy gardening instead. A Google search on “fairy garden” now generates over 8,500,000,000 results. You’ll find large displays of fairy garden items at most local, independent garden centers.

Major big-box stores are now on board. You’ll find new miniature sections at Michael’s Crafts now, and seasonal miniatures for the garden at JoAnn’s Fabrics. Hobby Lobby has always carried dollhouse miniatures but the department seems to have grown exponentially. And, lastly, the number of tiny businesses online that specialize in fairy gardening, mistaking it for miniature gardening, are everywhere on the web.

And Now to the Future

We’ve stayed the course here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and even though at times we’ve included the fairy garden idea into some of our inventory. blog and social media posts, we still stand firmly behind this miniature garden hobby.

We haven’t made the jump to the fairy idea in our business model because it wasn’t the fairies that entranced us to begin with – it was the miniatures and the garden.

Miniature garden by Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Double-sided miniature gardens were not only fun to make, the clients loved them!

So, here we sit, still the leaders of the miniature garden hobby. Our plant selection is the best on the web, we offer true miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs from America’s top grower. Our miniature accessories, collected from many sources around the world, are realistic, detailed, in-scale and for the most part, weatherproof, reusable and renewable – we simply don’t want to generate landfill.

So? Like this? Want to follow the leader? If you are serious about your miniature gardening, join us here for our new weekly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter. It’s fast, fun and informative.

And checkout the world’s first Miniature Garden Center for all your miniature garden needs – because, after all, we wrote the book on it too.



Book Cover - Low Res 008

Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

Here is our eBook for Advanced Fairy Gardeners only. It’s an addendum to our Gardening in Miniature book. Click the picture for more info.


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Miniature Garden Tutorial Video: Understanding Scale

Miniature Garden Tutorial: Understanding Scale in the Miniature Garden

Miniature Garden Tutorial Video: Understanding Scale

Miniature Garden Tutorial: Understanding Scale

A large-sized miniature garden or 1″ scale. The pot is about 22″ across and about 1′ deep in the middle. I planted the tree and shrub closer to the middle of the pot so their roots will have plenty of room to grow.

Miniature gardening is just one way we enjoy miniatures in today’s world. I’ve written about The Biggest Little Industry on Earth many years ago, and gathered a long list of how we love anything miniature. Heck, careers have been made out of miniatures and billions of dollars have been exchanged because of miniatures! Stop to think about how much they are a part of our every-day and you will see miniatures in a different light.

With all types of miniature-making, scale plays a very important role. Without using scale as a rule-of-thumb in your gardens, scenes or dioramas, the project would look like a random collection of items, a box or shelf-full of stuff. I’ve written about the use of scale before too, (linked below,) but in the gardening in miniature world we used scale a bit differently – and I can’t think of any other comparison in the miniature industry so, again, this hobby stands apart from the rest.

You see, when the right miniature plants and trees are used in the miniature garden, it’s only the accessories that have to be in scale with each other. The plants we use and recommend at, for the most-part, adapt perfectly to almost any miniature scale. Check out the video demonstration to see how scale is used in this miniature garden and you’ll see what I mean.


The tree behind the birdbath is a Just Dandy Hinoki Cypress, the tree to the left is a Jacqueline Verkade Canada Hemlock. See what’s up in our store here, or shop by your zone here.

Your Miniature Garden Center

Apropos Proportion

Now let’s go a bit farther and talk a little about proportion, a valuable attribute for any kind of design, build or fabrication.

We know that the plants can adapt to any scale BUT the overall size of the garden is still a factor.

For example, if you use small-sized accessories for your in-ground garden, they won’t get noticed and will get lost at a distance. Large-sized accessories are ideal for in-ground because they can be seen from a-ways-away, like from your deck or from a window in the kitchen.

Different sized containers work better with certain scales too. Small accessories get lost in big pots and, this is a very common oversight, large-sized accessories can easily overwhelm small pots.

This is adapted from our bestselling Gardening in Miniature book, Chapter 3, Shrinking the Garden Rules:

  • For containers that are 2” to 5” wide, use small sized miniature accessories.
  • For containers that are 5” to 10” wide, use medium sized accessories.
  • For containers 10” and up, use large sized containers.

Of course, with any creative rule, there is a bit of wiggle-room between the sizes/scales, but I think you get the gist.

In summary: Use the same scale accessories in proportion to your miniature garden.

Link to more about scale, with more photo-examples:

Fun With Scale in the Miniature Garden

Miniature Gardening 105: Sizing Up Your Accessories

Shop by Size:

Shop all One Inch Scale

Shop all Half Inch Scale

Shop all Quarter Inch Scale

Let me know if you have any comments or questions below – it tells me what I’ve missed!

If you are serious about learning, creating and digging deeper into the miniature garden hobby, join us here.

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book

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Winter Garden Tips for Gardening in Miniature!

Snowy Miniature Garden

Brrr! Our miniature plants and trees do far better in the snow and freezing weather than I do! This was from the 2 week-winter that crippled Seattle for almost 2 weeks in 2008.


Winter Garden Tips for Gardening in Miniature!

Here is a quick round-up of winterizing garden tips for your in-ground miniature gardens and your contained mini gardens in pots – for fairy gardening and railroad gardening too. YouGet Crafty with Two Green Thumbs! may find this a bit early, but it will give you plenty of time to prepare for winter in your area. I’ve included several gift ideas too – it’s never to early to start creating a miniature garden for the hard-to-shop for person on your holiday list. Let us know if you have any questions or any additional tips in the comments below!

Ideas on how to adapt and adjust to the new winter weather in the miniature garden.  Container vs. in-ground gardening, choosing the right plants and perhaps a way to change your thinking about plants in order to do what you want.

Preparing for winter in the miniature garden – how to work with the seasons, links to more: winterizing your in-ground or your container gardens and how to keep miniature gardening throughout the winter.

Thinking of trying artificial snow? Read this before you do: Miniature Garden Lesson.

Make your gifts this year and practice your favorite hobby at the same time: The All Time Most Thoughtful and Incredible Creative Gifts of All Time!

What to dig deeper into gardening in miniature? Join us here!

Lights for the miniature garden or fairy garden are water resistant and have a timer too!

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Godzilla and the Miniature Garden

From the Mini Garden Guru blog

Godzilla and the Miniature Garden

Alright, a squirrel is not miniature Godzilla but they may as well be – they are the perfect-sized monster for our miniature gardens, fairy gardens and railroad gardens.

Squirrels and chipmunks are really Godzillas in miniature.

Squirrels and chipmunks are really Godzilla in miniature. 

As you may have noticed in your garden, ’tis the season for chipmunks and squirrels to ramp up their hunting and gathering to a feverish pitch before winter sets in. You would think that in temperate climates, like here in Seattle for example, there wouldn’t be as much of a panic to collect food as we hardly get a a freeze and if we do it only lasts a couple of days. But, alas, there is not reasoning with those big eyes with the fluffy tail and off they go digging a huge pit in the middle of the miniature garden. Hey, it IS a huge pit – in miniature!

So, I asked a bunch of different gardeners on their one cure for the miniature Godzilla: cayenne pepper. Not pepper flakes – the powder. And, you can find it in bulk at your local dollar store. Sprinkle it on the bare soil in your miniature garden, fairy garden, or railroad garden, and the squirrel will move on to easier digs – literally.

Miniature squirrels for the miniature garden add life and action to the scene. Start the story by scattering some scraps around them to make it look like they got into something. Click the picture to see them up in the store.

Miniature squirrels for the miniature garden add life and action to the scene. Start the story by scattering some scraps around them to make it look like they got into something. Click the picture to see them up in the store here and here.

There are other ways of course, get a dog, use natural repellents like garlic sprays or animal urine. (Um, how to you collect that??) There are sound emitters, sprinkler systems and motion detectors that you could spend your money on as well. Or you could fence in the pots, (ugly to look at,) use plastic forks (ugly again until the plants hide them.) Lastly, you can offer the squirrels something better, like sunflower seeds and refill it twice a day. Remember that peanut shells are poisonous to dogs, and the squirrels plants them everywhere, so I don’t recommend them.

But with the cayenne pepper, especially for the miniature garden, you can really be precise as to where you sprinkle it. You can protect any part of the garden that you want to, with special attention to the freshly planted areas.

Like this? Join us for your free Mini Garden Gazette newsletter delivered straight to your inbox on the first Friday of each month – go here to fill out the form on our main website.

Miniature Gardening with

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Miniature Garden Ideas

Miniature Garden Ideas & Fairy Garden Ideas, New Videos!

A couple of new videos with a few miniature garden ideas and fairy garden ideas from your fellow miniature gardeners at, America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center.

Miniature Garden Ideas:

Fairy Garden Ideas

Like this? Are you serious about miniature gardening? Join us here: for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette newsletter delivered once a month to your inbox. You’ll get a free PDF after you confirm through your email. Join us here.

Miniature Gardening: Go Ahead, Act Your Shoesize

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Miniaturizing Mulch for Miniature Gardens or Fairy Gardens

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo from

Miniaturizing Mulch for the Miniature or Fairy Garden

Here is a common question we received from a fellow miniature gardener the other day, “How do I reclaim a garden bed that is full of weeds? Do I use landscape fabric?”

My answer: “I would go the lasagna gardening method. After you weed it out as much as possible, place layers sturdy cardboard down and pile the compost on top it. The cardboard with biodegrade eventually and you’ll be left with a fun, workable garden.

That breathable landscape fabric is a nightmare to work with over the years. We inherited a garden with it and it’s gross – and it’s always there – and it doesn’t work. The weeds will grow on top of it and root into the fabric so when you go to pull the weed, the fabric comes with it. With the lasagna gardening method, you can plant on top of it right away. No waiting. We tried it with our miniature garden, now 5 years old, and layered on top of clay soil and grass. It worked like a charm.”


But, don’t just take only my word on it. Here is a short video by a garden guru based in Ontario, Canada, Doug Green. He has also spent come quality time in the southern United States so he has a great perspective on all things garden. Doug Green, is an author and expert gardener of 40 years. He’s great to follow, we love and appreciate his frankness. His website is huge and chock-full of garden information, photos, and tips for all kinds of gardening.

And here is more information about mulching in miniature in an excerpt from the new best-selling pdf, Sophisticated

Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

Our new eBook! For Advanced Fairy Gardeners only. It’s an addendum to our Gardening in Miniature book. Click the picture for more.

Fairy Gardening: Advanced Techniques and Imaginings, about mulching in the miniature garden or fairy garden:

“Mulch is known to be a full-size solution for weed suppression. It works by blocking the sunlight from getting to the soil, preventing annual weed-seeds from germinating and slows down the growth of perennial weeds. However, seeds blown into the garden by the wind or dropped by birds can still germinate on top of the mulch, but can be pulled easily. Examples of organic mulches include bark mulch, compost, grass clippings, pine needles or nutshells. Inorganic mulches, (meaning they don’t break down,) are rocks, pebbles, crushed gravel and crushed glass. If you are creating the fairy garden for children to play in, stay away from the crushed gravel or glass and look for tumbled glass or pebbles instead.

Organic mulch is one that naturally feeds the garden soil, like sifted-bark or compost, you won’t have to clean it up or keep dealing with it when you plant or dig in the garden bed. But you will have to reapply each year at the very least. Here are some miniaturized suggestions for mulch, or rather, suggestions that can be miniaturized.

Bark mulch generally tends to be too coarse for our miniature purpose; it’s chunky mulch that literally doesn’t fit in the miniature fairy garden. The chunkiness of the bark simply overwhelms the miniature scale. If you do use this type of mulch, think about sifting it to get the biggest chunks out using a piece of wire mesh, or by spending a few minutes sorting it by hand if it is for a small fairy garden. For larger areas, consider compost instead. Dress the miniature garden beds with it to make the plants stand out nicely and it will feed the soil and the plants at the same time. “

Like this? Then you’ll love Sophisticated Fairy Gardening: Advanced Techniques and Imaginings, it’s an addendum to our Gardening in Miniature book.

And if you are serious about all things miniature garden? Join us for your free Mini Garden Gazette newsletter published monthly. Sign up here and you’ll get a free pdf once you confirm through your email.

Keepin' it real in the miniature garden with

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10 Steps to Renovate a 10 Year Old Miniature Garden in 10 Minutes

 Miniature Garden Renovation by

10 Steps to Renovate a 10 Year Old Miniature Garden in 10 Minutes

“Don’t just sit there, grow a tree!” is my first thought whenever I see the box that’s been kicking around the office since

Miniature Garden Renovation with

Pot finally cracked in July 2015.

2005. I’ve kept it for reference because this is – so far – the only tree seed that has worked for me. The side of the box says, “Guaranteed to Grow! Just add: sunshine, water & love.” For $4 I thought, “What the heck, I’m feeling reckless today, I’ll give it a try.” ;o) The seeds are from and the website is still there – in the same condition it was in 2005 if you want to go back in time and see how the Internet looked back then. It’s Picea pungens ‘Glauca’ or Colorado blue spruce.

The seeds come from Bucksport, Maine. Apparently I lost the instructions that were included but I recall it said to mimic a forest floor when planting and nurturing them. It worked. Hover over the pictures in the collage to see the dates the photos were taken. I am missing a few photos – it was used in our A Garden for All Reasons at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in 2008. You can see it on our Flickr page in the front of the display with the black arbor in the back (the photo needs updating to fit in their new format.) And I know I took other shots of it too but they must have been a part of a hard drive crash a couple of years ago unfortunately.

Oh, and this lil’ garden was rejected from the Guinness Book of World Records. I submitted it as the world’s longest living and smallest miniature garden but it didn’t pass the criteria. I would have preferred a rejection letter too, as opposed to an email. Framing an email isn’t as dramatic. It’s still a record-breaker in our books though!

See our 10 minute renovation after the collage.

And just to note, I did nothing special in growing them. The main thing with such a small garden over 10 years is to (a) keep track of it and (b) to water it. Personally, I’m still surprised it’s still alive after a major house-move and three years of writing and promoting a book. I have Steve to thank for that!

How to Renovate a Tiny Miniature Garden

Miniature Garden Renovation with

1. Take the pot off the rootball.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

2. Take all the accessories, the patio and stones out.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

3. Take the moss off the top of the soil.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

5. Gently peel away the roots. You’ll find them wrapped around the edge. Cut the long roots with a sharp pair of clean scissors.


Miniature Garden Renovation with

6. Gently loosen or divide the trees to fit them into the new pot. The rule of thumb is to never take more than one third off at a time – this means roots and foliage.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

7. Fit the trees into the new pot gently. Arrange them like a forest, plant them off-center for more interest. Face the best side of the tree to the front. Trim off any lower branches that need it.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

8. Put the patio, pond back in. Fit the rocks in where the look natural.

Miniature Garden Renovation with

9. Plant the moss back in the gaps with the bare soil. The moss will help slow down the water evaporation. Trim the moss to clean it up, trim off any lower branches if needed.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Miniature Garden Renovation with

10. Water thoroughly until it comes out the bottom of the drainage hole. Fill in any gaps in the soil if needed. Spray off the patio, clean off the outside of the pot, fill the pool and your done.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on it for the rest of the dry summer months, and we’ll make sure it gets enough water in the winter – and we’ll keep it sheltered from freezing just to be safe. By next year, it should have fully recovered and will be hardier in the dry months as well as the colder months. Like this? We’re digging deeper and deeper into the hobby every week. If you are serious about miniature gardening, join us! Sign up here and confirm through your email.  And visit our online store here.   Keepin' it real in the miniature garden with

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