Archive for The Business

Fake News is Infesting our Christmas Tree Traditions

A Miniature Christmas Garden from the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book. Click the picture to see our new Christmas Tree Dress Kit, our first Prop Shop Kit. The kit is the supplies needed, the instructions are in the Prop Shop book so you can make easily at home! Photo is by Kate Baldwin.

Fake News is Infesting our Christmas Tree Traditions

Your amateur consumer advocate is baaaack…

You’ve heard me go on before about certain things that just tighten my jaw, like Fairy Garden Moss, What They Won’t Tell You But I Will and How to Identify an Expert on the Internet, but this one is particularly ludicrous.

You can bring your miniature Christmas garden inside over the holidays, just follow the same rules as a living Christmas tree: Stage it beforehand, keep the soil at least damp, keep it away from any heat source, stage it to go back outside after 3 or 4 days.

I’m not sure where this vicious rumor started but no, the chance of your Christmas tree being “infested” with bugs is so wrong – so “fake news” – it’s incredibly frustrating to see these articles circulating around Facebook and other social media streams.

We’ve been bringing trees inside our home for the holidays for centuries. Now do ya think if there was any real problem we would have heard about it by now? Here are a couple of other points, if I may:

Did you know that bugs don’t like to be bugged? Funnily enough, they are like us and prefer to be comfortable.

One of my favorite organic gardening techniques is to bug the bugs so they can’t set up their nest and lay their eggs. The idea is to keep upsetting the soil where they want to set up house, or slough them off the foliage whenever we see them to force the insects to move-on-down-the-road where the living is easier. You would think if any bug that has set up inside a Christmas tree would surely jump out as soon as the chainsaw hits the trunk, or at least seek safety when the tree hits the ground, gets rolled up in twine, thrown on to a wagon, then onto a truck… shall I go on? I think you get the gist.

Fancy pots! Our favorite miniature garden Christmas tree come in bright red pots this year. Add a bow, and you’ve got a fun little gift for any gardener! See the Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce up in the store, here.

The mini spruce tree is an excellent anchor tree for any miniature garden.

But, don’t take it from me. Here’s what some of the folks in my Independent Garden Center group are saying about it today:

– “Ridiculous.” (VA)

– “Get real. The percentage of people who have this problem is so low that it’s not worth changing habits for.”(GA)

– “Shows how far we have come in our travels away from common sense.” (MA)

– “Every so often we find a stink bug. That’s the extent of our bugs in tree issue.” (TX)

To exacerbate the issue, we now have professional entomologists claiming that black widow spiders can live in Christmas trees too. Um. Waitaminute. Now I’m not even close to being an amateur entomologist but I do know spiders prefer dark and dry places – not in airy spruce branches that need the rain and the sun to grow. Duh. Oh my poor head!!!

SO, there may be a harmless bug or two on your tree – but the chances of it being “infested” are next to none.

Please don’t let fake news wreck your holiday traditions.

And, oh ya, and always question the absurd when you see it, so others who live in different circles can be warned of fake or ridiculous news too!

See America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center store for fun and unusual gifts for ANY gardener at TwoGreenThumbs.com

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas

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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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How to Identify an Expert on the Internet

Miniature Gardening: Go Ahead, Act Your Shoesize

Gardening in Miniature since 2001.

How to Identify an Expert on the Internet

“You can be anybody on the Internet!”

We’ve talked about this before on a previous blog post, about how the Internet is growing all kinds of experts. I’ve worked online since 2004 and have witnessed a number of great people gradually become the true experts in their field. I’ve also watched a few people try to become experts and, if they are good salespeople, they can trick people into thinking that they are indeed an expert.

You see, it is really a lot of hard work to become an expert, as Malcom Gladwell states in his bestselling book, The Outliers. Malcolm has calculated that it takes at least 10,000 hours devoted to one topic to become an expert. To put this in perspective, if you worked 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 50 weeks per year, that’s only 2,000 hours. So, at best, if you really crammed and worked overtime, you might be able to crank-out 3000 hours per year. You still need at least 3 years of overtime, nights and weekends, to achieve the expert level of experience.

 

http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.com

 

But, if you ask the Internet, apparently there are now quicker ways to become the expert, or at least appear to. Anyone can write their own blog and get a book published these days – anyone. (Always wanted to publish a book? Do it. There are publishers for everything and every level if you keep looking. Heck, you don’t even need to know how to write.) But, honestly and realistically, there is no quick way to dive deeply and thoroughly into any topic to become that expert overnight or within a month – experience just can’t be rushed.

There is SO much information out there on the interwebs these days, especially with the “real” fake-news sites, that you need to, you must, take the time to figure out if that blog/website/person that your looking at is authentic and has the right answers to your questions. Especially with gardening, doing the wrong thing in your garden can sometimes do lasting damage and ruin your outlook on gardening forever.

So, here is how you identify an expert, I’ve included some questions that you can ask yourself before you consider if the person is authentic. I don’t imagine this list isn’t complete at all, if you have another way to ID an expert, leave it below.

 

The definition of “authenticity” from Wikipedia:

Authenticity – of undisputed origin; genuine.
Synonyms – genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable; legitimate, lawful, legal, valid

 

The Miniature Garden Society

Collecting expert advice on the new hobby of gardening in miniature is one of the reasons we set-up this wonderful Miniature Garden Society website for miniature gardeners only. All members get direct access to me, my library, my resources and my experience.

How to Recognize an Expert

You can’t fake passion – If she is coming out of the blue with a completely new topic all the time then she is just jumping on the next trend, and the next, and the next. Look to see if her blog/books/portfolio jump around too much and feel unfocused.

Does she stay within her area of expertise (subject-wise AND geographically?) – Does she have a number of different books published on different topics? Is she writing about gardening in different regions but has lived all her life in one state or area of the country?

Is she collecting credentials? – Look to see if she is a member of every group in the industry. No one can join every organization and still get practical work done – unless you join in name only – but I do believe organizations frown on that.

Does she jump around a lot with her job history while still claiming to be the expert? – Does she stay with one or two roles or are there a list of different jobs from different organizations but she only looks to be 30 years old? Does she specialize in chickens, grafting tomatoes, canning, year-round vegetable gardening and open, own and manage a full garden center and landscape business – and all within a couple of years? There is no time to learn anything thoroughly if you can’t stay put and learn the ropes.

Does she jump around a lot with her offers? – Does she promise to solve all your problems and plan your wedding too? You’re looking for an expert, remember.

Does she have any past work of her own to show? – If she is a gardener, does she have her own garden’s photos up on her website or blog? If she writes about miniature gardening, does she share any of her miniature gardens on her social media?

Listen to her talk. – Does she sound like she knows what she is doing or is she just filling the airwaves with the obvious? Does she sound confident? Can she articulate what you need to know? Does she explain things well? This is especially important if you are paying for services. I hired an editor through email to help me edit my first manuscript for Gardening in Miniature. When I spoke to her on the phone after the contract was signed, I was extremely disappointed in her lack of expertise and confidence. Needless to say she couldn’t complete the job and passed it back to me after sitting on it for 6 months (then she went and published her own book on miniature gardens a couple of years later, believe it or not.)

And the kicker: she could just be a good salesperson and she knows which buttons to push to get you to buy into her game. Marketing and selling is actually a formula that has phycological triggers that can be used to lure you into buying if you aren’t careful.

UPDATE: An insightful example: My cousin has worked for the Yamaha Corporation in their drum department for over 25 years now. He has the constant challenge of getting celebrity drummers to endorse drums for Yamaha and he has noticed that the most talented drummers are not interested in marketing themselves – they just want to play drums. It’s the less-talented drummers that shine at the marketing themselves and thus get all the attention. After hearing this, I’ve noticed it across many industries – the most creative people are busy claiming their gifts and creating – not facebooking and tweeting.

So next time you are in need of some expert information, use your intuition and do some quick Googling around with the above list to see if they have any experience logged anywhere to back up who she claims to be.

Then, if you’ve figured out that they are genuine and you like them – bookmark them in your browser as one to go to for the right answers. Maybe if we keep patronizing the real experts, the fake ones will move along and go after the next “shiny thing.”

End of rant. Stay real.

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Dig Deeper with our New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book!

 

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No Room for Miniature Gardening at the Big Northwest Flower & Garden Show?

A Fairy Garden at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

A fairy garden made by the garden designer’s daughter at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

No Room for Miniature Gardening at the Big Northwest Flower & Garden Show?

Well, a fairy garden made it into one of the big display gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show this year – that’s something at least. There were a couple of booths where you could buy some fairy-wares, but there were were no miniatures for miniature gardening. Really? (What’s the difference? See here.)

Ad-GardeninFairyGardenWhere are the Miniature Gardens?

We brought our miniature gardens to the second largest garden show in the country, held every February here in Seattle, for ten years straight. I think our last display was in 2014 that capped the 10-year run on our creative displays promoting the new hobby. There was always a crowd around our exhibits taking in the details and snapping photos – it was always well-received with the public reassurring me that they always looked for it each year.

So, when the Northwest Flower and Garden Show changed ownership in 2013 the place where we set up our miniature gardens changed too. The configuration of our usual exhibit space on the skybridge became a little too big for this miniature gardener. When I asked, and I’ve asked every year, if I could get a spot for a miniature garden display, the responses always, “We are booked, there is no more room.”

There is no room for miniature gardening at the second largest garden show in the country. 

Lol!

Even Swanson’s Nursery, the place where I had my big “Aha Moment” when the universe blessed me with the idea, had only a few things for fairy gardening.

Oh, the joy! THE JOY of bringing something new to the marketplace! AWESOME! Lol!

At the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

There were tiny gnomes tucked here and there throughout one of the exhibits

Give them the benefit of the doubt? Maybe “what we have here failure to communicate?”

But, you see, I was hoping that if I backed-off, other people might come forward and display their miniature gardens, but that hasn’t happened yet either. So I guess I’m going to have to do something about this.

SO, WHADDAYA THINK:

Would YOU want to bring one of YOUR miniature gardens to show at this show?  I can see it working like any other club where we all take turns looking after the display in exchange for a ticket to the show.

Even though it was a fairy garden in that big garden display this year, it still got a lot of attention and there was always a crowd around it taking pictures…

Let me know what you think in the comments below! If there is enough interest, we can make something fun happen but we’ll need to act early and see if we can “make” some room for the biggest and newest garden niche. :o)

Join us for the world’s only miniature garden newsletter, The Mini Garden Gazette, here.

At the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Steve and I finally got Gardeners of the Year!! Yay!!

HowTo-SpruceMG-12text

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Growing, Evolving & Updating: Miniature Gardens vs. Fairy Gardens – What is the Difference?

Fairy door and windows.

Not a miniature garden but very cute! From the “Our Favorite Miniature Gardens” – and old album from HGTV.com

Miniature Gardens vs. Fairy Gardens – What is the Difference?

This is an update to a blog that I published on the difference between miniature gardening and fairy gardening about 6 1/2 years ago. 

I opened up a little can of worms the other day on our Facebook page.

Thankfully, I’m a little hardcore when it comes to gardening and I like worms.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green Thumbs.comI had created a post for our Facebook page that linked to a series of fairy gardens on HGTV.com (link has been changed) and suggested that they should start hanging out with us “real miniature gardeners.”

I must admit, that was a bit hasty in retrospect, but I didn’t mean to offend anyone so here’s an explanation of where that comment came from.

The first picture in the album was the one shown above, with a couple of windows and a door nailed to a tree with a fairy in front of it. Inside the album, however, there were a couple of pictures that were very pretty little fairy gardens, and pictures of a fairy house and a gnome house – but they were all fairy gardens, not miniature gardens. HGTV had called them miniature gardens – thus the comment “that they should start hanging out with us ‘real miniature gardeners.'”

A very pretty little Fairy Garden

From the HGTV.com album. Fairy gardens are a type of miniature garden and if there is a fairy in it, then the word ‘fairy’ belongs in the name.

“Why?” asked Facebook follower Patti Sherwood, the founder and leader of the Miniature and Fairy Garden forum on Garden Share.com (This forum appears to be dead now.) “… because I truly believe that every attempt at creating a garden of any kind should be applauded and not criticized.”

That is STILL a great question, Patti.

But I felt like Martha Stewart. She is always made fun of because of her quest for excellence and perfection. But, you know what? She raised our game. Martha made us want for a better home and a better life through the domestic arts. Heck, we didn’t even call it “domestic arts” until she did! It was called housework and cooking. How unglamorous… until Martha  came along and redefined it for us.

Yes, I think every attempt at gardening should be applauded, especially because plants help the air, reduce our stress, help the environment, and add comfort visually and emotionally.

But, promoting any type of gardening is not what I do. My focus is living miniature gardening.Janit's Mini Garden Etsy Store

“Lettuce define our terms.”
              – Kermit the Frog

 

A “Little” History

The term ‘miniature garden’ used to be an all-encompassing phrase for any small sized garden, living or artificial. It could be as big as a
small backyard or as small as a thimble-sized terrarium. Dish gardens, bonsai, penjing, rock gardening, railroad gardening, gnome gardening, tray gardening, windowsill gardening, teacup gardening, terrariums, vivariums and Wardian cases (I’ve probably missed some.) were all called miniature gardening before the miniature garden hobby took off. Now, the terms have officially changed.

So here is the definition of miniature gardening.

And yes, it is my own definition, I can not think of who else would have the authority and perspective to define it so I’ll claim it. You’ll now find this definition on many websites.

Living Miniature Gardens

Living Miniature Gardens include plants, patio/paths and an accessory all in scale with one another.

Definition: A miniature garden is the perfect blend of tiny trees, plants, hardscaping and garden accessories that are in scale with one another to create a lasting, living garden scene or vignette. Miniature gardens are gardens in miniature.

That’s it, right there.

And as a leader and a professional (like HGTV.com) I feel it is part of my job to bring out the best miniature gardener in everybody.

So, when one is adding a fairy figure to a bunch of plants and calling it a miniature garden, that isn’t right, it is a fairy garden.

A window and door hammered onto a tree is not a miniature garden. It could lead to one – but I would be hard-pressed to even call it a garden. Where are the plants?

A sign propped up in the corner with a fairy a pebble path is a fairy garden, not a “miniature garden” even though it is cute as a button.

And the “Our Favorite Miniature Gardens” on the HGTV.com site was an album of fairy gardens.

The Big Boys Aren’t Getting it Right

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book

We wrote the book on it.

It’s interesting to note that these types of big “garden” websites seem to not really care about being precise nor do they seem to care about teaching the right things to their viewers/readers.

I found another great example of this from the Better Homes and Gardens website recently, where they called a planted jello-mould a ‘terrarium’ and proceeded to plant up a dish garden incorrectly, (the charcoal layer is a filter and goes on top of the gravel,) called it a bundt pan, and used plants that have completely different watering and light needs – THEN they put a pebble path and a wee bench in it, technically making it a miniature garden. It is SO not a terrarium, it isn’t even funnySee it here.

I was a bit floored after viewing so I posted it in one of my independent garden center forums and asked if this type of information should be corrected by us, the professional gardeners in the industry. I had several store owners chime-in and basically said, “So what? It’s cute and it will sell fast. They’ll have to come back and buy more plants!” 

Oh. Dear. I was under the impression that customers are people that trust independent shop owners to sell them the right solutions that will work – not die. If a customer just wants to buy plants from an untrustworthy source that will die, that’s what big-box stores are for. :o)

So it seems that some store owners just want sell you anything and these big websites just want the traffic for their advertising revenue. BUT why they mis-inform their customers/readers leaves me very perplexed when it is just as easy to create and teach proper content?

Gee, I guess I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years, but at least I can sleep at night. Please enjoy our ad-free website and online store where we care about our customers, the information and the products we sell ~> ONLY at TwoGreenThumbs.com apparently!

What do you think? Am I being too picky about nomenclature? Leave a comment below about my current definition of what we do here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and help us define what we do so we can continue to share, enjoy and create living miniature gardens.

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.

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Tired of Winter? Tired of Politics? Have NO FEAR…

Miniature Garden Society - the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

Miniature Garden Society – the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

Tired of Winter? Tired of Politics? Have NO FEAR…

…Your Miniature Gardeners are HERE!

Ugh. That silly groundhog called for SIX more weeks of winter…

Okay, you’re going to have to envision my green cape with my miniature garden logo flapping behind me in the breeze okay? With a green leotard, a mini skirt and really cute boots… can you picture it in your mind? Good. Nice boots, huh? Lol! Here’s what I have for you:

  • A website full of original content on your favorite topic of miniature gardening that is growing and evolving constantly.
  • A place to connect to people that do the same thing you do.
  • A website where there is always something growing.
  • A place for you to ask any question about miniature gardening, plants or accessories.
  • A website where you can find a yummy project for the afternoon, or for the long weekend.
  • A safe place for you to go on the internet that is free of flashing ads, videos that play at random, or ads that have tracked your latest search.

But wait. There’s more.

How about a website that shows you how you can make money doing what you love to do?

I’ve been working on this website for over 2 years now but it feels like I’ve only just started because there is still a TON of information that I have to put up in this unique website.

More projects, insight, how-to’s, upcoming show reviews, interviews and reviews of everything miniature garden! PLUS – I have a super-exciting secret that I’m ONLY sharing here, on this intro page to the Miniature Garden Society Website. You’ll have to click-in to find it out. (Promotion period for this has ended.)

:o)

 

Miniature Garden Society - the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

The Miniature Garden Society website includes – and will include – exclusive reviews, previews, interviews and news! Fun and informative! Click the picture to find out more. ;o)

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What’s New in the Big-Box Stores for Fairy Gardening and Miniature Gardening for 2017?

What’s New in the Big-Box Stores for Fairy Gardening and Miniature Gardening for 2017?

http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.comWe have hobbies to escape, to transport us out of our everyday lives, to get purposefully lost in the details and in the doing. This past year we’ve watched our miniature garden hobby grow even further and take root in more hearts than ever as it keeps spreading throughout the world. Needless to say, it’s been very interesting to watch it grow from where we sit, from selling it in street markets at the turn of the century, to a worldwide trend-turned-hobby as we see today.

We’ve also watched many small businesses develop around the hobby – and now it’s grown into the mainstream where it needs to grow so everyone can learn about miniature gardening. While it is our mission to make our hobby as well-known as knitting – and seeing the idea in the big-box stores is really awesome – but those corporate powers that be should have asked for “little” help, imho.

Needless to say we did see this coming, like all trends that find their way to get mass-produced in China without regard to the nuances of the hobby. It started with Hobby lobby a couple of years ago as they took the lead from the independent garden centers who loved it as a new way for their customers to grow. As the miniature garden idea spread it was inevitable that the large, corporate craft and hobby stores would begin to produce their own products that catered to the hobby. And sadly, some of the items have been blatantly copied from smaller companies and ourselves, reproduced in China by people without conscience or ethics. But it’s just business, right?  

Big Corps and Little Gardens

Yes it in english too! :o) Click the picture to see it in our online store or find it on Amazon at the link below!

Yes it in english too! :o) Our Gardening in Miniature book is available wherever books are sold. Click the picture to see it in our online store or find it on Amazon wherever you are located!

What the big corporations and gift manufacturers don’t seem to do is to consult with anyone directly related to the trend before taking an idea to China – it surely doesn’t look like they did. (It doesn’t look like anyone does!) I’m not sure if anyone at Michael’s Crafts or JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts was actually a miniature gardener or a fairy gardener while they where brainstorming their new lines of miniatures for the hobby – and that shows. AND it looks like they just copied what the other fairy suppliers copied with no consideration for the end user -> YOU! (There’s my consumer advocate side again!)

So here’s a little insight in a quick video of what is out there this season so you can see what is up, as well as how you can use it – or can’t use it – in your own fairy garden or miniature garden work. Caveat emptor : a number of the items are not weatherproof, will melt in the rain, and the color will fade in the sun quickly. 

Making Miniature Magic

If you are serious about gardening in miniature and recognize the joy, depth and creativity it can bring to your own world, join us at the Miniature Garden Society! We have many projects to help you stay creative all year ‘round, plus all the information, insight and advice that you need to grow a successful miniature garden wherever you are. To learn more about it, visit here.

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center!

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