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The Day the Earth Shook: The Nisqually Earthquake, 20 Years Later

The original Miniature Garden that lasted for 3 years before the container fell apart.

The original Miniature Garden that lasted for 3 years before the container fell apart. The scene is 10 1/2″ wide and was 1/6 scale.

The Day the Earth Shook: the Nisqually Earthquake, 20 Years Later

“You told me to call if I had any earth-shaking news.”

That was what I said to my father after calling him in Toronto to check-in after the Nisqually earthquake here in Seattle in 2001.

Twenty years ago today, I was at Swanson’s Nursery where I was just offered my first legal job in the US. I was thrilled. I was very eager to learn more about the flora of the Pacific Northwest after working for the past year under the table as a gardener, until I was able to get my green card.

After the interview, I went to check out the plants and that’s when the earth shook.

My first thought, “Wow, that’s a big truck driving by!” as I watched a big truck drive by – but the shaking didn’t stop.

Kim (I think her name was Kim, she always had popcorn for lunch) ran out and yelled at us to get away from the greenhouses. I did, not knowing what else to do of course, it was my first earthquake.

And then the shaking stopped. I was officially unnerved and felt that the earth could begin shaking again at any moment. It’s quite disconcerting when the ONLY reference point that we have here on earth, moves.

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Earth-Shaking for Major Industries

But what happened that day was really earth shaking for the garden, miniature, craft and gift industries because Swanson’s Nursery is where I discovered miniature gardening. It was Swanson’s where I found the miniature and dwarf conifers that spring and paired them with ground covers to build my first miniature garden.

It was at Swanson’s that I showed the “Original Miniature Garden” photo (above) to Candy, one of the walking plant encyclopedias that worked there, but she passed it back without thought and said, “That’s nice, Janit,” not even realizing that the scene was in miniature. (One of my ah-ha moments!)

I stayed there for about 3 1/2 years while getting Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center up and running. I saw the seasons change in the perennial department, then I was promoted as assistant manager in the home accessory department until my manager found out how adept I was and got rid of me to protect her job. During these years, I worked weekends at garden markets and touristy craft markets spreading the joy of gardening in miniature. Eventually in 2004 I was able to start selling online and could quit my “day-job.”

As the Internet grew, eventually I did find someone else that was into gardening in miniature in the 1950s, based in the UK, but by that time, my history of miniature gardening was well on its way to being a major trend for the garden, miniature, craft and gift industries. An earth-shaking trend, I might add, as these industries are forever changed. We now have a new way to craft with miniatures and plants that is very personal, accessible to everybody, sustainable and renewable, and very, very creative. Have you planted your miniature garden yet? Won’t you join us?

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A Brand New Miniature Garden Center Store!

It’s a brand new Miniature Garden Center!!

A Brand New Miniature Garden Center Store!

Release the doves! Crack the champagne already! Send up the songs of gratitude! Call the press! GET THE CAKE!!

It’s a brand new Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center Store that is completely up to date and now available on any computer, device or phone nearest you!

And we’re thrilled!

Look forward to us growing and adding to this website as we move forward in spreading the joy and love of gardening in miniature just in time for spring – we’re doing the happy dance!

Don’t just sit there – click into the America’s World’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, TwoGreenThumbs.com

Beautiful photos are throughout the site. Easy to navigate too. Use the search bar to shop by your planting zone!

Here are just a few differences that keep us apart from “the rest:”

1. We wrote the books on it: Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World and Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop: Handmade Accessories for Your Tiny Living World.

ICYMI – These little bars are the new menu on a lot of new websites these days. Click the little bars to see more!

2. We keep our focus on realistic miniature gardening because that’s were the magic and enchantment really happen.

 

3. We have the only full-time blog on the hobby (you’re reading it now.)

4. We have the Mini Garden Gazette that we send out to thousands of Fellow Miniature Gardeners each week for FREE. Join us here – just scroll down a bit!

5. We specialize in the miniature and dwarf trees and plants that work. Our plants don’t outgrow your miniature garden in one season, they are easy to take care of and won’t die if you turn your back. Search by your planting zone!

6. We have a brand new website that is easy to navigate! :o)

7. I’m prolly missing something. Lol! Here’s the link to the store while I think of it: TwoGreenThumbs.com

 

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Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center is online ONLY.

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Miniature Gardening at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

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

Miniature Gardening at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

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

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

And, that’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

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 MiniatureGarden.com

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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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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