Archive for The Business

Online Gardening: Are We Growing Experts?

Janit Calvo:

Over 280 blog posts and five years later, we’re looking back to see very little has changed in this regard. – J.

Originally posted on The Mini Garden Guru - Your Miniature Garden Source:

Happy Fourth of July West Seattle! Let’s be careful out there. Adirondack chair is 3.5 inches tall.

A Garden For All: Growing experts?

By Janit Calvo
July 3, 2009

An online friend, and one of my sources for inspiration for my business, Barbara Winter, has many favorite quotes to live by, but I especially like this one as it gets more and more applicable in today’s online world where anyone can be an “expert.”

“Don’t take travel advice from someone who has never left home.”

I wish I heard that one years ago.

So, I’m on Twitter these days, and have been for several months now. I’m not sure if it is really helping my business, or it’s just a place for my random thoughts that pass through my head while working alone every day. Through this source, I’ve been exposed to many other garden-related people, and what they are…

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Miniature Gardening Across the Pond – and Back Again

Miniature Gardening with Woman's World Magazine

So cool! We made into the April 28th edition Woman’s World Magazine on page 6! Right next to Johnny Cash. Lol! Our mission is to make this hobby as well known as knitting – thank you Woman’s World Magazine!

Miniature Gardening Across the Pond – and Back Again

Miniature gardening made it across the pond and back again this spring! As the new hobby grows its way into the UK, Europe, Asia and Africa, we thought to share these articles that you may not have had a chance to see. Click into these pages to enlarge them – then you can click to zoom-in again to read them.

I enjoyed this interview by Doll’s House Magazine in the UK that includes insight into how I got into gardening and into miniatures – two passions of mine that are now bundled into one!

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

Miniature Gardening with UK's Doll's House Magazine

Click to zoom in, then click to zoom in again to read the article.

This hobby has grown expontentially but not everyone knows what a miniature garden plant is yet, here’s a breakdown of what kind of plants to look for – wherever you are.

We recommend calling your local independent nursery – note that the big-box-stores will not have these wonderful trees as our grower is committed to serving the independent garden centers.

Previous posts about Canadian nurseries that carry the same trees and shrubs that we do are here.

Click to enlarge these articles, then you can zoom in again. I’m not sure how this will work on a hand-held mobile or phone, however.

Like this? Join us and thousands of other Fellow Miniature Gardeners for your FREE monthly Mini Garden Gazette delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up here, confirm through your email and you’ll get a FREE  PDF too!

Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

Click the picture to get your autographed copy from our online store. Or Amazon[dot]com has it too!

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Press Release: Biggest Trend Grows Into a New Hobby

Miniature Holiday Garden

“We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!” Do what you like with miniature gardening – go ahead, grow your own world!

We thought our blog readers would enjoy the latest press release from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center:

Press Release: Biggest Trend Grows Into a New Hobby

Mix the two most popular hobbies in the world, gardening and miniatures, add a huge helping of crafty ideas, and you have a brand new hobby that has rooted itself in the imaginations of gardeners everywhere. Miniature gardening is a trend that has now become an official hobby as the world’s smallest garden center celebrates 12 years in business this month, and a position on the Amazon’s Best Books for 2013 list, but it does not come without a little controversy.

Seattle, WA, November 14, 2013 –(– “It’s the accessibility, anyone can do it,” says Janit Calvo, owner of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, the company that first packaged and marketed the hobby for the masses. “The hobby is for every level of gardener, it’s a rich idea that can be enjoyed by new or experienced gardeners. It is so creative, people want to do more and more of it.”

With almost 6000 miniature gardening fans on Facebook, 3000 Twitter followers and 10,000 subscribers from all over the world, has been leading the hobby as the source for gardening in miniature. They provide the much-needed information, ideas, inspiration, plants and products for what could be America’s next favorite pastime, certainly it is the cutest.

“Don’t just take my word for it, look at what happened last summer.” Calvo’s brand new book, Gardening in Miniature: How To Create Your Own Tiny World completely surprised the publisher, Timber Press, as the presales exceeded all expectations. They triggered a second printing of the book before receiving the first, a month and a half before it was officially launched on July 15th. The book is now on the Best Books for 2013 list on Amazon and holds the #5 position in the garden category.

Such an endearing idea doesn’t come without a miniature helping of controversy in the garden world. Fairy gardening made it to Today’s Garden Center’s Top Ten Most Hated Trends last spring. Some of the more daring garden bloggers have had the courage to step up and call the trend out for putting plants and gardening far behind the houses and accessories, but isn’t a garden about the plants and growing them?

“The gift industry took the fairy idea and ran with it because it is easy to create fiction out of resin; and the stuff sold like hotcakes because it appealed to children,” Janit explains. “But people are tiring of the junk, it is not sustainable and will become tomorrow’s landfill.”

Janit details the frustrating effort of trying to show the manufacturers what her customers really want, as her license contract with a local garden/gift importer came to a close in June of this year. “It was very surprising considering what was happening with the Gardening in Miniature book at the time. My customers and fellow MGs [miniature gardeners] are adults, something the gardening and gift industries are not getting. We know exactly what this new hobby needs because we are miniature gardeners and our customers are always telling us what they need. We are considering new options with other manufacturers, we are just not seeing the solutions for this new hobby in the marketplace yet.”

The garden industry has been labeling miniature gardening a trend for years, “but when my customers are coming back each season, year after year, for 12 years, then we know we have something that cannot be called a trend, it is a hobby,” Janit continues. “It’s endearing, educating, grounding, personable and very, very creative. We are naturally drawn to miniatures, nature and gardening, so it’s a perfect fit and it’s for everyone.”

Janit Calvo is the author of Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World by Timber Press. She founded Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center,, and is based in Seattle Wa.

Contact Details:
Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center
Janit Calvo, Owner, Founder
Author of Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World
Mailing Address Only: 10204 12th Ave S., Seattle, Wa, 98168
Main Website:
Office Phone: 206-352-0494
Office Hours: 10am through 4pm, Monday to Friday, or by appointment.

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Miniature Gardening At Swanson's Nursery

Join us for an exclusive sale too! Click the picture to go to the Swanson’s event page for all the details!

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New Book on Gardening in Miniature Surpasses All Expectations

Timber Press does Gardening in Miniature

Timber Press does Gardening in Miniature this month for the big launch. Click the picture to get into their website – they are having a contest to win a big kit and a book!

New Book on Gardening in Miniature Surpasses All Expectations

“I can safely say Timber has never gone to reprint with such speed on any other book in its history.” – Andrew Beckman, The Big Kahuna, Timber Press

Whew! Talk about some great miniature garden news! Those folks over a Timber Press started their launch this week, and boy-o-boy they sure are busy-bees. So I thought to bring them to you! Here are a few websites that have reviews already, a wonderful blog-post from Canada, and the start of Timber’s big launch. It has been interesting to see the different takes on the book and the hobby.

Amazon does Gardening in Miniature

>>>> STILL #1 in Miniatures and Flower Gardening this week on Amazon, and today we are #10 in the Garden and Landscape! <<<<

There are a bunch of reviews up on the Amazon website here if you are want to read more opinions about the new book. One review by a librarian brought attention to what the book is not: It’s not a book for young children – although I am positive that young teenagers will enjoy it.  And, it’s not about fairy gardening. There are several books out on the market that cover that type of gardening (we recommend the Julie Bawden-Davis / Beverly Turner book, they’ve been doing them for years and years.) But fairy gardeners and experienced gardeners will enjoy the plant and scale information to add a touch of realism to their work. And, there is a whole chapter filled with basic garden information in the book for the beginner gardener, as well as plenty of ideas and inspiration for the experienced gardener.

Read more reviews on the GoodReads website here.

A lovely review from Publisher’s Weekly is here. (Now, who would have thought I would have a review on the famous Publisher’s Weekly? ;o) They said the book is a “fascinating sophisticated approach to container gardening.” Insert blushing here.

Garden Therapy does Gardening in Miniature

>>>> Garden Therapy does Gardening in Miniature – great website for crafts, recipes and garden projects. <<<<

 The beautiful and talented Stephanie Rose from the popular Garden Therapy blog and website got together a how-to make a miniature garden patio up on her blog for your infotainment. You can see the fast and easy way to build a miniature patio right in your garden. AND, I must add that if you like recipes, gardening, DIY projects and “crafty goodness,” I guarantee you will enjoy her website. Stephanie is an excellent photographer, graphic designer and writer – and she’s a brand new Mom this month so be assured that there will be a baby/children theme carrying on for the years to come. She’s got a contest to win one of our Mini Patio Mix kits so be sure to enter for your chance to win a free kit – the details are at then end of the post.

Timber Press does Gardening in Miniature

>>>> A Q & A with Yours Truly and how we got the idea way back when. <<<<

Timber Press does Gardening in Miniature

>>>> Excerpts from the book on design points to add to your miniature garden expertise! <<<<

Timber Press does Gardening in Miniature

>>> In this blog they show the gardens that they created for a big book convention last year. <<<

And back to the Mothership! Timber Press’ website has now turned into Gardening in Miniature! Lol! Check out all the gorgeous photos from the book that they have on their website and blog. Note that they built their gardens a bit differently – but hey, they didn’t have Gardening in Miniature to read when they made them last fall for their show – but we think they did a pretty good job! Be sure to enter their contest for a chance to win one of our Complete Indoor/Outdoor Miniature Garden Kit AND a book!

So, run, don’t walk, to your nearest Barnes and Noble – if you are in Canada, they are in Chapters-Indigo – and pick up a copy! Everybody should have them in stock by now. You can find it at any bookseller, on the Timber Press website, Amazon, Chapters-Indigo website, the Barnes and Noble website, or get an autographed copy from our online store here. They should be wherever books are sold.

Join us at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center for more in the miniature garden. We have a monthly newsletter, The Mini Garden Gazette, that is filled with tips, ideas, FAQs, contests, specials and links to more fun. You’ll get a free PDF after signing up too! Join us here.

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Re-Defining the Miniature Garden and Creating History

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture

Our display at Sorticulture highlights the gardens I put together for The Book. This garden above can also been seen in the world’s cutest video up on Youtube here.

Re-Defining the Miniature Garden and Creating History

I think it’s safe to say it. It was probably safe to say it last year – and maybe the year before that too: We’ve made it into the garden history books.

And it only took over 12 years of a full-on-sprint to get it done. (“It” meaning, create the market, define the hobby, then write The Book <- not a good business plan. ;o) But, hey, time to dance in the streets, eh? But first, let me explain my historical statement if you are new to what is happening here.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture

Miniature Trees: Boyd’s Willow on the left with the round leaves, Sky Pencil Japanese Holly in the back, the Silver Fox Hoary Willow in the middle and a Thyme-Leaf Cotoneaster on the right, with the “apples.” See what’s in stock here.

What We Know For Sure

We know the term ‘miniature gardening’ has long been used as a broad description for all kinds of gardening small. Teacup gardening, dish gardening, terrariums, bonsai, Penjing, gnome gardening, toad gardening, fairy gardening, dollhouse gardening, trough gardening, railroad gardening, windowsill gardening, rock gardening, alpine gardening, small-space gardening, indoor gardening…  and I’ve probably missed a few too.

Less than a few years ago, when I said  ‘miniature garden’ to the average gardener, one of four things would normally happen:

(a) they used to think of it as any kind of small garden,
(b) they assume it was a fairy garden,
(c) they would not know what I was talking about because the term was so vague and unknown, or
(d) they thought I was talking about an artificial dollhouse garden.

And yes, there have been books on fairy gardening and railroad gardening throughout the last few years that have used the term “miniature garden” as well – but I think we can chalk that usage up to the old definition by now – ONLY because AND quite frankly – what else would you call our style of gardening in miniature?

And this is where the changing history comes in because we have now redefined the term “miniature garden.”  This is not the first attempt at changing this definition but it will certainly be the time when it will stick only because too many people have fallen under its spell.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture

Having fun with the our Cover Garden. We found when using bright, strong colored accessories worked better when we used multiples of it to balance the distribution of color.

Gardening in Miniature

The accessories for the cover garden were chosen by Patrick Barber, the artistic director from Timber Press.

The Official Definition of a Miniature Garden:

“A miniature garden is a living garden in a tiny scale and looks like a full-sized garden that has literally shrunk in size. It consists of a slow growing dwarf or true miniature plants, in-scale bedding plants, a patio or pathway, and miniature accessories where all the elements relate in scale, are proportioned to each other and stay in scale and proportion as the garden grows together.”

And hey, this is becoming an even bigger historical movement in the garden world, especially if you do take into account all the fairy gardeners too. Which brings us to the question,

“What exactly is the difference between miniature gardening and fairy gardening?”

Fairy gardens are created specifically for fairies with whimsical houses, fantastical furniture and a fairy figure, or two are hidden among the regular-sized garden plants and herbs.

For most people, using this highly imaginative theme compromises the realism dramatically and reduces the enchantment that only an authentic and realistic miniature scene can deliver. Notice the next time you see a really good fairy garden that it is the realistic items in the scene that delivers most of the message – whether it be a realistic window on a house, a tiny book laying on the table or a miniature rake propped up next to the fairy house.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture

Serenity Now: A miniature garden with an Adirondack chair and wee pond quietly prods us to relax and take a moment.

And It’s Generating a Huge Miniature Movement

It is just a tiny garden idea with incredibly rich possibilities and it is quickly capturing the hearts and the imaginations of people worldwide. Miniature gardening is a personable, creative, accessible, share-able, scale-able, play-able and a productive way to get your creative juices flowing and, at the same time, can be very grounding and centering. Now don’t just sit there, help make history.

Join us for more! You’ll get a free PDF, The Best of the Mini Garden Gazette #1, just for signing up!

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture


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Miniature Gardening: It’s an International Affair

Miniature Gardening in Romania

Loosely quoted, “With a touch of magic, your beautiful garden will spring from your dreams. A bench leaning against a tree or a small fountain hidden among giant flowers will create a peaceful space you can escape to anytime.”

Miniature Gardening: It’s an International Affair

Sharing the new miniature garden hobby is too much fun. With customers throughout the world, it was inevitable that the international garden magazines would pick up on this latest huge garden niche / hobby. We were tickled when a couple of them came to us for pictures and input, here’s what came out of the connections. They told us what pictures they liked from our website/ this blog and our flickr-photo page and we sent back the high resolution photos for them to use.


Here is a Home and Garden Magazine from Romania. They found some plant sources for those of you across the pond who need to find the right plants we use. Here is their website:

Miniature Gardening in Romania

Gradini in Miniatura – now you know how to say Miniature Garden in Romanian!

For some of the trees we use:

For the Fairy Vine or Mulenbeckia:

The article tells how to use slow-growing plants, where to place them and general potting tips on soil and fertilizer. Here’s a loosely edited quote from the article:

“Finally, add accessories – they make the difference between a simple flower pot and a miniature garden. For the planting seem more real, always use same scale (find it stated on the label products). Even if you put a doll, it’s nice to create the impression of human presence, this will create a story: a rake “forgotten” on the grass or miniature cup of tea on the table. Animals add charm to the arrangement.

For the translation, we used the handy Google Translate and had some help from my Romanian friend, and fine artist, Florin Brojba. (Wave! Wave! ;o)

Want to know more? Check out our About Miniature Gardening page on our new website that we are adding to each week here.

Miniature Gardening in Romania

They even have the cover of our new book in the article too! Timber Press is everywhere!

Miniature Gardening in Romania

The photo, middle-right, is Laney’s miniature garden from MS, she was one of our contest winners from last year. Way to go Laney! ;o)

Miniature Gardening in Romania

Very sweet! A huge, warm thank you to Sabina Usurelu, the Garden Editor at Casa si Grandina!


This next article was such a pleasure to help with. From Japan! We’ve always known the Japanese are as equally enthralled with all things miniature, but to be ask to contribute  was such a treat knowing that the art of bonsai, the grandfather of miniature gardening, has long roots in the history of Japan. And here they asked little ol’ me for photos of my work. I’m still giggling… check out the fun they had with this 6-page article.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

Bises is a beautiful, full color, huge, glossy magazine dedicated to gardening in Japan. All kinds of flower and vegetable gardening, lots of roses, recipes, garden design and much more. I wish I could read Japanese!

I didn’t have any luck translating the Japanese in this article but I’m still going to try.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

The editors at Bises loved our miniature garden shed made in 2005.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

I love how they dissected the big garden into the smaller photos.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

And here are some of their miniature gardens and plant suggestions.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

Look for the woman in the photo in purple on the right side, just in front of the garden bed. She was ‘photoshopped’ in to look as if it was her garden. Too fun!

Miniature Gardening in Japan

I love their miniature stonework – check out the stairs that the little guy is standing on.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

“Watch out, tiny gardener! Here come the scissors!” Lol! Hey, they are probably giggling in Japan too! ;o) Check out those wonderful doors on the building. Small-leafed ivies and Baby Tears fill up the beds. I think that’s a small-leafed Sedum that the “giant” hand is cutting. Photo is from

Miniature Gardening in Japan

See the gardener on the bottom trimming the Rosemary? Lol! A big thank you to Ms. Hanako Yagi, the Editor in Chief at BISES.

Miniature Gardening in Japan

This photo is just too sweet. Two tiny gardeners tending their miniature garden. The plants look like Scottish and Irish Moss for the lawn, Fairy Vine for the twiggy shrub in the back and small-leafed Sedums are in the pots in front of the building. Photo is from

Hey, the Beatles had to make it big overseas before they were a hit in their own country – who knows what will happen in the brand new world of miniature gardening?

Most of the items in the photos are from our online store here.

Like this? You’ll love our free Mini Garden Gazette. Published monthly and sent straight to your inbox. Click this link, sign up and get your free “Best of the Mini Garden Gazette #1” instant PDF download after confirming through your email. 

Miniature Beach Garden

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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, full shade etc. Group plants that like dry soil together – or moist soil together too.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Miniature Garden in a barbecue

    I chose this “container” because it was new and, being a barbecue, it already had holes for drainage. My plants are true miniatures 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.)

    Don’t set your students up for failure by telling them that anything can be used for a miniature garden, it simply will not work for everyone. Broaden your students success rates 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 it’s moved. Note that baskets lined with plastic are temporary containers and will not last.
  • 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. Put the focus on what will stand up to the weather for the more satisfaction.
  • Provide some snacks or refreshments 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.

Stressed out?
Don’t have time for a vacation?

Visit your local garden center
for a few minutes of peace.
Being surrounded by
plants and flowers will
dissolve your tension and
help get you centered again.

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

Get on the first edition list here through Amazon for our upcoming Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, by Yours Truly, published by Timber Press. Available this summer!

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