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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

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 (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 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 (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 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 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 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.)



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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15 Awesome Reasons to Celebrate in the Miniature Garden

Keep Calm and Make a Miniature Garden

15 Awesome Reasons to Celebrate Miniature Gardening

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center is celebrating 15 years in business this month!  Here are just a few reasons to celebrate the biggest garden niche that has come along in years:

#1. Miniature gardens make people laugh and smile.

Go ahead and try it. Show someone a miniature garden and watch the smiles and giggles. Make sure you put something tucked in the back of the garden to reward the viewer for looking. Like a bunny under a bush or quiet little vignette with a bench.

#2. Miniature gardens are portable; you can take it with you.

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

A miniature garden is a real garden, complete with a garden bed full of trees, bushes, flowers and wee patio –  and you can take it with you. Whether your renting your home or apartment, traveling in an RV or just not quite settled-down yet, you can still have a full garden. Garden clean up is a snap and you can still brag about working in your garden at the office on Monday morning.

#3. Miniature gardens are personal; create your own tiny living world just how you like it.

Miniature gardening can be as big as you like, or as small as you need. You can make it your dream garden or your scheme garden and use it to plan a full-size garden. Inject just about any theme into it and make it as fantastical as you like.

#4. Miniature gardens are season-less.

You can build a miniature garden in a container anywhere you like. You can plant container gardens at anytime of year. Make a tiny mess creating on your kitchen table or make a bigger garden out on your deck. (You can plant in-ground anytime the ground is not frozen or the soil is not soaking wet.)

#5. Miniature gardens are grounding and good for the soul.

Studies have shown that playing with nature and having plants around lowers stress and is centering. Spending a few minutes in your miniature garden after a stressful day can reset your attitude. You can’t be in a bad mood when you are miniature gardening, it’s impossible. Get your fork out, do some raking and enjoy your personal time with yourself.

#6. Miniature gardens are very fun to make.

Creating your little garden is very fun from the get-go: from the very first time you see a garden in miniature, throughout the dreaming and planning process, hunting and seeking out the right plants, materials and accessories to use, to the completion of the garden itself – it’s just Fun with a capital “F.”

#7. Miniature gardening is very fun to share.

You can create a very fun and memorable afternoon miniature gardening with friends and/or family. It build connections and give you a common topic to share and explore together.

#8. Miniature gardens can be very enchanting.

It’s not hard to make an enchanting miniature garden and once you hit that level of charm, you’ll realize why you love it so. Using true dwarf and miniature plants, realistic accessories and building materials are the secret to achieving a scene in miniature that is often regarded as “simply divine.”

Keepin' it real in the miniature garden with Miniature gardens are easy to maintain.

Using the golden garden rule, “Right plant, right place,” will get you off to a terrific start for a low maintenance garden in miniature. By choosing trees and plants that do well in your environment will create a very easy miniature garden to maintain.

#10. Miniature gardening is versatile, can be indoors or outdoors.

There is always room for a miniature garden! 

#11. Miniature gardens are accessible to everyone.

Anyone can build a miniature garden. Anyone.

#12. Miniature gardens have long legs.

You can easily go deeper into any aspect of the gardening in miniature hobby. It overlaps several other hobbies, and we draw the best aspects of them into our miniature gardening. We enjoy miniature making without the expense or room it takes for a dollhouse. Our trees naturally grow into beautiful bonsai subjects without the root pruning and high maintenance.

#13. Miniature gardening doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

We can enjoy the love of gardening without breaking our backs or our bank.

#14. Miniature gardening builds self esteem.

Hobbies give you something else to think about. If any part of your life isn’t going as planned and you’re feeling down, building a miniature garden can help build yourself back up. Distracting the mind with something creative can lead to a different way to problem solve – you let you subconscious work on the problem while you have fun gardening in miniature!

#15. Miniature gardening can give you a sense of achievement

Miniature gardens in containers can be built within an afternoon and give you the satisfaction of a job completed.

Want to receive our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter? It’s the only newsletter that is dedicated to the hobby of gardening in miniature. Join us here.

We’re digging deeper. Join us at our new members-only website!



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Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

It’s a brand new, totally focused website on everything gardening in miniature with all the bells and whistles!**

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you would have heard about our Miniature Garden Society member’s only website opening up a few months ago. Well, truth be told, it did get lots of kudos, oohs and ahhs, but it couldn’t add any community, forums or post-ability to make it just that more fun. BUT, alas! Have no fear because your miniature gardener is here!

Welcome to the NEW Miniature Garden Society website! It’s all that and more. Now that we have some roots and branches to the site, it’s time to get it really growing. Personally, I can’t wait because it’s a place to share all our ideas and information that didn’t fit into this book – nor did it fit into this book either. Lol!

Yup! Can’t tell you any more – need to get back to the new site! Learn more about it here. 

**May contain fairies. :o)

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Dog Days of Summer Sale at Your Miniature Garden Center!



Dog Days of Summer Sale at Your Miniature Garden Center!

The the dog daze of summer upon us, we are taking a break this week too. Orders are still being shipped as they come it. We may delay shipping plants for a day or two to avoid the box sitting somewhere strange over the weekend. Please email us for a faster response here.

Please enjoy some eye candy on our Flickr page:

Please enjoy a rare, surprise sale for your Miniature Garden Center Store!

We are
America’s Favorite
Miniature Garden Center


We wrote the book on it. Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

We wrote the book on it. Click the photo to get an autographed copy from our store or find it on! (An affiliate link.)

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Miniature Garden Workshop Tips

Miniature Garden Workshop Tips

For a successful miniature workshop – and with very little effort-  you can take care not to set your students up for failure with plants that work and pots that last.

Miniature Garden Workshop Tips

Spreading the joy of miniature gardening is just as much fun as creating one. With our beloved hobby travelling like wildfire throughout the country, and the world, there are many fellow miniature gardeners who have stepped up to teach it this year. Here are some pointers that we developed after teaching this hobby for the last decade.

Looking for a Miniature Garden class? – If you are looking for a class in your area, the first place to start is your local garden center or nursery. Give them a call, find them on Facebook or, better yet, go and visit them to see what’s going on and say hello.

Miniature Hobby Farm Garden

We punched a bunch of holes in the bottom of this galvanized tub before planting to give the excess water a place to go.

Here is a last-minute checklist for our fellow miniature gardeners who are conducting workshops and classes this spring and summer.

  • Group plants horticulturally to make it easy-peasy for your students to assemble their gardens. Put indoor plants together, outdoor plants together, full sun with full sun, etc. Group plants that like dry soil together – or moist soil together too. If the student doesn’t care about mixing up the plant’s needs in one pot, just make sure they know what they are getting. (A workaround is to keep the moisture-loving plants in the poly-pot and plant the whole thing, pot and all, into the miniature garden. If it’s an aggressive grower, cut out the bottom of the poly-pot before placing it in the miniature garden.)
  • Not all plants will make a great miniature garden. The satisfaction and reward of a miniature garden is to have it grow and weave together over several seasons, if not for years and years. If the student has to repot her “investment” in two months time and buy new plants – they will be disappointed and may not try again. Simply put, plants that stay small and grow slow are the best choices to start with. See what’s in our store for more examples here. Make sure new gardeners have the best leg-up with the right plants so they are satisfied in the long run – and they will come back for more and more fun because the miniature garden is so easy to maintain.

Ad-FallPlanting - 1

  • Gather a wide selection of containers if it’s an open class where students choose their own. Some may live in condos and want lightweight containers, while others may have a larger space to work with and want to plant a bigger miniature garden.
  • Choose pots or containers with a drainage hole. Just about any container or teacup can be drilled with the right drill and drill bit. Look for masonry drill bits for most Asian and Chinese pottery, for teacups and porcelain, look for porcelain tile.
    Miniature Garden in a barbecue

    Above photo is from 2013: I chose this “container” because it was new and, being a barbecue, it already had holes for drainage. My plants are true miniatures (Michelle Mugo Pine with Congested Ice Plant) and I know I can keep this together for years before it will need repotting. I shelter it from the hot, summer sun because it is metal. UPDATE – 2016: The Ice plant outgrew the pot last year. The Michelle Mugo Pine is still very happy in this wee bbq planter! 

    Don’t set your students up for failure by telling them that anything can be used for a miniature garden, closed containers simply will not work for everyone. Help your student’s success rate by providing a drilling service, or only recommending containers with drainage holes.

  • Give careful consideration of what you are recommending to plant in. Yes, that old drawer or broken pot may look cute for the first couple of months after the miniature garden is planted but, after a while, your still stuck with an old drawer or broken pot! As the miniature garden keeps growing more magical and fun throughout the seasons, you may regret not investing in a nice container that will last and not fall apart when moved. Note that baskets lined with plastic are temporary containers and will not last. I have found that poking holes in the plastic doesn’t work very well either if you want the garden to last.
  • Always choose organic potting soil for your miniature gardens. Stay away from any soil with extra fertilizer or water-retaining polymers, the plants simply don’t need it, it may burn the roots and nor do you want your miniature plants to grow fast. There is enough nutrients in a good-quality potting soil to last for up to two years.

  • Recommend accessories that are weatherproof and/or are staked to hold their place in the soil. It is cute to add wee books, refreshments and tiny details but they will weather quickly and get lost in the garden – which is hard on some people’s budgets and their patience. Spending good money on miniatures that don’t last long is frustrating for the new miniature gardener. Put the focus on what will stand up to the weather for the more satisfaction.
  • Provide some snacks or refreshments during the workshop to keep everyone engaged. Miniature garden workshops can sometimes take up to four hours at times. By providing a little nourishment, you can avoid people having to leave early because they need food. Make sure to mention this in your flyer or ad, to let the people know. Better yet, team up with a local caterer and make it a luncheon-event. The students can eat while you teach, then plant afterwards.

Need to know how to build a miniature garden like a pro? Here is our complete instructions on how to create a miniature garden, it includes some in-ground tips and tricks, scale information and recommended plants to use.

Like this? You’ll like our Mini Garden Gazette – join us here for more fun in the miniature garden. 

Visit America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, here:

Book Cover - Low Res 008

Get an autographed copy from our store or find it on!

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