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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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Father’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Father's Day in the Miniature Garden

“Manly, yes, but I like it too.” So went the 1980s Irish Spring soap commercial. Thankfully, miniature gardens can be created for anyone and by anyone – including Dad.

Father’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Miniature gardening is becoming an increasingly valuable skill to have especially during those times when you can’t figure out what kind of gift to give to that hard-to-shop-for person in your life. It was always a challenge to figure out what to get my Dad for any occasion. It usually fell back on the basics: a box of Turtles chocolates, or maybe a box of Laura Secord chocolates or, when I was older, a bottle of Grand Marnier – and/or a box of chocolates. And I was number three of five kids. I’m surprised he didn’t keel over with all that sugar. ;o)

Father's Day in the Miniature Garden

Tompa Dwarf Spruce tree on the right with ajuga and white thyme. Made around 2004-ish. This one we kept – and it’s still in the same pot today. The spruce is doing very well, the ajuga eventually squeezed out the white thyme over the years. The miniature bricks are wonderful and still intact.

Father's Day in the Miniature Garden

This miniature garden was created for the indoors. Variegated boxwoods, dwarf mondo grass, corsican mint (we use baby tears now – it’s more reliable) and a couple of airplants, or Tillsandias, in the miniature urns. When Mom and daughter came to pick it up, the little girl added some squirrels and a bunny. She was sooooo excited to give it to her Dad, it was too cute.

Father's Day in the Miniature Garden

Give your Dad his very own private vacation. The upright Compressa Juniper, with the ever-faithful-and-so-easy-to-grow Mother Lode Juniper combined with small-leafed sedums create a perfect mini get-away for a full-sun spot.

What about my Dad, you ask? He’s the man behind my love of books, my work ethic, my eye for quality, my love of [almost] anything antique, my affinity for old houses and, most importantly, my love of gardening. Thanks, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

And as they say in Trinidad, “Goat don’t make sheep.” My Dad is into spreading the joy of hobbies too. His publishing company’s website is here. ;o)

Father's Day in the Miniature Garden

This garden is part of our Year in the Miniature Garden Series where we are keeping the same garden, and dressing it up for different occasions where we can. Happy Father’s Day!

Gardening in Miniature

The wait is over! IT’S NOW AVAILABLE! Find it at wherever books are sold or from our online store here.


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More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Miniature Garden Plants

Mixing up the textures and the colors of the trees, shrubs and plants create an authentic garden scene in miniature.

More From the Miniature Garden Archives, Part II

Here are more of the many miniature garden images that we put aside for our upcoming book from Timber Press that got crunched in our computer, we couldn’t use these for print so here they are for you miniature gardening pleasure and inspiration. Notes about why we love these plants are in the caption below the image. See Part One from May, click here and we got a chance to highlight our Miniature Houseboat Garden in July, click here. 

We love junipers for the Miniature Garden!

A Miniature Beach Garden – the dwarf Junipers are excellent choices for hardy, full sun gardens.

Dwarf Junipers are just a pleasure to grow in the miniature garden. They come in many shapes and colors, they are really hardy, can take full sun and can tolerate a little dry soil too. Above, the upright column of green is a Miniature Juniper, the lower one on the right is the Mother Lode Juniper. The Mother Lode is technically a slow growing ground cover shrub but it makes a surprising reliable miniature garden plant that changes colors through the season. Trim any wayward branches when you see them.

Miniature Garden in half inch scale

Pair your dwarf Junipers with other plants that love full sun and well-drained soil for the best results.

The miniature bedding plants used there are mostly sedums. In the pots on the left, we used sedum cuttings and a baby Hen and Chick. On the right in the foreground is Elfin Thyme. All plants in this combo can be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. (The pots and bird feeder have been discontinued, unfortunately.)

Miniature Garden Plants

Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is a favorite for the miniature garden. Here it is paired with Red Thyme. (The chair has been discontinued.)

The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is one of the faster growing dwarf trees that we carry. Its the shape that really sells us – and it changes colors in the winter for added charm. Prune away the bottom branches to show some trunk to make it look like a tree. The marble and pebble patio is locked in with Mini Patio Mix, it’s a permanent fix to your miniature patio woes.

A Peaceful Miniature Garden Scene

A peaceful miniature garden scene. 

The Hinoki Cypress above is several years old and paired with bedding plants that enjoy regular water, and part sun (meaning a maximum 6 hours of direct sun.) There is a Fairy Vine (Muelenbeckia complex) growing up the trellis on the left, Platt’s Black Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) below it, and Dwarf Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) on the right. We used sedum cuttings for the wee pot.

Miniature Garden Vine and Trellis

A simple garden vignette can bring a little peace and tranquility indoors.

In this miniature garden, the miniature arbor becomes the focal point. Without the arbor, it would just be a plant in a pot. We matched the miniature pebbles with larger “boulders” to lend an air of permanence to this garden. This particular plant, the Fairy Vine, will last for a couple of years in this pot before needed more room or dividing. It will go through a dormant period in late winter and get a bit leggy, just cut it back and it should flush out in new growth in the spring. Fertilize in spring if it’s been in a pot for more than a year. Note that the Fairy Vine is a bit aggressive in some areas when planted in the ground.

Indoor Miniature Garden

Add a slice of the outdoors to you indoors this fall with an indoor miniature garden.

This Variegated English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Variagata) is a great little tree for indoors or out. The two tiny green shrubs in the front-most bed are the Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Compacta’) Boxwoods need plenty of light to grow indoors – with some direct light if possible. They are great for a bright shade spot outdoors too. Be careful to let the soil dry out to barely damp in between waterings to avoid overwatering. The pot is about 18″ in diameter. (The white bench and pots in this photo have since been discontinued.)

Miniature Garden Tree, Moonfrost Canada Hemlock

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a very reliable tree for the miniature garden.

The Moonfrost Canada Hemlock is a wonderful little tree for the miniature garden. Prune up the bottom-most branches to show a bit of trunk to make it look like a tree. It can be grown in part shade to cool sun – in a pot or in the ground. The colors change throughout the seasons too: The celery green color in the summer turns to a mottled pink in the winter, the new growth in the spring is a creamy white. Trim the branches of the Moonfrost in late winter to keep the colors vibrant.

Like this? Join us for your FREE monthly Mini Garden Gazette here.

Find most of the plants and accessories in this blog at your Miniature Garden Center here.

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It’s been a cold, wet, gray spring here in Seattle. I remembered this little gem I wrote a few years ago… I’m going to Aruba in my mind!

The Mini Garden Guru From

A Garden For All: Create your own vacation

Are you one of the many people that won’t be able to take a vacation this year?

One of the numerous benefits of miniature gardening is the ability to recreate any garden theme quickly and easily. Escape the winter weather and create your own tropical get-away for either your home or office, or, why not do one for both.

Here are two very warm mini garden themes to warm your soul and heat up your attitude: tropical and beach.

At this time of year, you can find tiny succulent and cacti plants at your local nursery, their indoor plant section should be stocked full of plants that are perfect for this purpose. There are a multitude of different kinds succulents, so I won’t even attempt to go through them here.

Just pick out a couple of…

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Miniature Garden Plant Focus: Hardier Than Thou

Miniature Gardens frozen in time

Miniature Gardens frozen in time, but they'll come out of this freeze just fine!

Miniature Garden Plant Focus: Hardier Than Thou

It’s here again.

That freezing, fluffy white stuff is all over the place. That four-letter word that seems to occur annually and stay for least a couple of days each winter. Now it’s ice. Why am I not in Hawaii?

It’s not really what I signed up for by moving here to this wonderful garden Mecca otherwise known as Seattle…

Miniature Garden Plants, Mitsch Mini Mugo Pine

One of our hardiest Miniature Garden trees: the Mitsch Mini Mugo Pine will be back in stock next week!

Fortunately, “my babies” just love it.

I’m talking about the wee miniature and dwarf conifers that I’ve been miniature gardening with for the last ten years – thankfully, they are hardier than me.

Much hardier.

Here is a quick snapshot of the different dwarf and miniature conifers that are ideal for the freezing/sub-freezing temperatures. This is only an overview of the hardiness of each species, as the hardiness of some of the varieties may vary. (A good example is the darling Mhondoro Hinoki that is hardy to -20F while the Jean Iseli Hinoki is hardy to -30F.)

Canada Hemlocks: -30F or Zone 4
Hinoki Cypress: -20F or Zone 5
Dwarf Alberta Spruce: -30F or Zone 4
Dwarf Cryptomerias: -10F or Zone 6
Mugo Pine: -40F or Zone 3
Dwarf Fir: -30F or Zone 5
Dwarf Norway Spruce: -40F or Zone 3
Japanese Holly: -20F or Zone 5

Some of them are pretty hardy / hardier than me / as you can see. ;o)

We’ve included the cold hardiness zones within each listing in our online store so you know exactly what you can plant with success for your area. For warmer regions, please consult this blog post to get to know what plants can tolerate the heat in your area.

Miniature Garden Tree, the Canada Hemlock "Hornbeck"

The Miniature Canada Hemlock "Hornbeck" - The dwarf and miniature Hemlocks we carry are perfect for temperatures down to

Getting it Straight

To keep myself straight, I rely on the actual temperatures when discussing hardiness zones. I think it’s because I was raised in Toronto, Ontario, and often get the Canadian/American/Sunset Zones completely mixed up plus, I interact with a variety of gardeners throughout the world. So it gets a little embarrassing with a name like Two Green Thumbs when I get the zones wrong.

So, I stay with one way to gauge and discuss hardiness and, for me, that is Fahrenheit. I don’t have to remember to convert anything in my head, I don’t have look anything up and I can eliminate a lot of errors that way. More often than not, the plant’s tag will have the minimum winter temperature on it. It’s better to be accurate than conventional sometimes.

Miniature Garden Tree, the Shimpaku Juniper is great for bonsai too.

The Shimpaku Juniper is a really great starter tree for bonsai too. It always has a nice trunk and branching system underneath the foliage.

Choose Hardier Plants for Your Containers

Now keep in mind the rule if you are planting in containers. There is a 15 degree difference in the hardiness of the plant when it is planted in a container. When planted the ground, the earth insulates the roots of the plant. When you plant in a container, you adjust for the hardiness by adding 15 degrees to the lowest minimum temperature. Here’s an example: let’s say the Mugo Pines are hardy to -50F. If we plant one in a pot, that Mugo is now hardy to -35F because it doesn’t have Mother Earth around it, keeping it warm.

Now stay tuned and join our email list in the meantime! The new miniature garden trees are due in any day now and we’ve got a lot to choose from! New, different, true miniature trees that are perfect for the miniature container garden or right in the ground… – we’re just waiting for the snow and ice to thaw so the truck can get through… ;o)

Your Miniature Garden Center

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Exclusive Mini Patio Mix Kit is for Miniature Gardeners Only

The versatile Miniature Patio Mix Kit for Miniature or Fairy Gardening

Our Mini Patio Mix Kit helps you create paths and patios for your minature or fairy garden that will not wash away. This outdoor mini garden was built in 2009.

Exclusive Mini Patio Mix Kit is for Miniature Gardeners Only

It happened again the other day. As soon as I held it up for all to see, the crowd murmured, “Awwww!”

Every time I demonstrate how to install a patio in a miniature garden I get the same response, because a miniature garden without a proper patio or pathway is just small plants in a pot. But when you start to add the patio and accessories, that’s where the enchantment comes in and the smiles happen.

Miniature Garden Center

But first, let me back up for a moment.

This Miniature Patio laid right in the soil is only temporary.

This miniature patio laid right in the soil is only temporary. Every rain and overhead watering washes the soil away. (Note the snail did sign a release to publish this photo legally. ;o)

When I started selling miniature gardens years ago I was placing marble and tile pieces right in the garden soil for the miniature patio. But when I watered the pot, the stream of water would always upset the wee tile pieces and I had to wait for them to dry out before I could fix the patio. It was more than a bit frustrating because it happened every single time I watered!

So I started playing around with different materials to find a solution.

First, I tried concrete but it had to be mixed before laying it in the miniature garden and I could not for the life of me keep the stones straight and level while it set. Not only could a fairy break an ankle, (think of the lawsuit! ;o) the end result looked too chunky and uneven.

With the Mini Patio Mix Kit you can mix and match before you set it.

With the Mini Patio Mix Kit you can mix and match and create a mosiac before you “lock it in” permanently.

Exterior grout worked the same way. I didn’t want to lay it in wet and I wanted to be able to mix and match the stone and tile before it began to set up and harden. And I had the same problem keeping the stones level in the wet grout. When it was all said and done, it look uneven and the grout looked way too slick.

I tried casting the patios separately and upside-down, mimicking the process of making mosaic stepping-stones. But all I got was a small stepping-stone that didn’t look at all like a miniature patio.

I felt like Goldilocks. ;o)

I went back to the drawing board and hunted until I stumbled across superfine sand at one of my local suppliers here in Seattle. The teeny, tiny sand looked the right scale for the miniature patios – it was the perfect ingredient I needed to fix my problem!

The Mini Patio Mix Kit used with the green stone sheet available in the store.

The Mini Patio Mix Kit when used with the green stone sheet makes a really easy and permanent patio.

I was finally able to create a recipe that:

  • – went together dry, so I could take my time mixing and matching the stone and tile.
  • – stayed level quite easily during the process and it was completely level when it dried.
  • – I could use with brick, marble, tile, stone, pebbles, glass, marbles and even coins.
  • – held up to the freezing and snow.
  • – could not be washed away with overhead watering or pounding rainfall.
  • – won’t harm your glazed pots and containers, it can be removed easily.
  • – best of all, it LOOKED like a real patio in miniature!

And the Mini Patio Mix Kit was born! Yay!

Mini Patio Mix Kit for Miniature Gardeners Only

The Mini Patio Mix Kit is the “mortar” or “grout” solution that can work with marble, tile, glass, stone, brick, ceramics and even coins.

Now after 10 years of installing patios and playing with the Mini Patio Mix Kit, the patios have held up to freezing, snow, over-head watering, moss, cats, possums and kids. Not to mention a great spot for a cup of coffee or wineglass.

Note the Mini Patio Mix Kit is the “grout” part of the patio and you add the brick, tile or stone. The end result is a sturdy miniature patio that is about ¾” to 1” deep. After a few weeks of curing, you can take the mini patio out and use it for another miniature garden if you like.

So if you would like a no-muss-no-fuss custom miniature patio for your mini, fairy or

Mini Patio MIx can work without any additions to create a

Mini Patio MIx can work without any additions to create a “concrete” look to your patio, pathway or use it to create a beach themed scene.

terrarium garden, check out our Mini Patio Mix Kit today. It is complete, full colored, step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and include some design tips for containers and in-ground gardens, miniature plant recommendations and information on the different miniature scales that we use too.

Exclusive to Two Green Thumbs, you can only find here at your Miniature Garden Center.

Checkout our stone sheets while your there for a really easy miniature cobblestone patio and other solutions too, right here.

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Like this? Join us for more miniature gardening here and subscribe to our Mini Garden Gazette, the world’s only monthly publication on the miniature garden hobby, since 2004.


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My Favorite Miniature Garden Things

Miniature Garden Center

Raindrops on the Jean's Dilly Dwarf Spruce, a true miniature Christmas tree.

Raindrops on the Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce, a true miniature Christmas tree.

These are a Few of My Favorite Miniature Garden Things

(Sung to the tune ‘My Favorite Things’)

Raindrops on spruce needles and Fiskars in my mittens
Bright miniature daisies and a hobby from Britain
Tiny trees in containers and planted with zing
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored containers and matching mini conifers
Friendly, warm customers, fellow miniature gardeners
Silver white winter that melts well before spring ;o)
These are a few of my favorite things

Groups of mini plants all ready for planting
Miniature beach gardens with scenes that are enchanting
Garden gnomes, elves and tiny fairy rings
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the news stinks
When the day goes bad,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Janit's Mini Garden Etsy Store


Christmas in the Miniature Garde

Christmas in the Miniature Garden

Happy Holidays!
Joyeuses Fêtes!
Joyeux Noel!
Felices Navidad!
Trevlig Helg!
Boas Festas!
Mutlu Bayramlar!
Sarbatori Fericite!
Tanoshii kurisumasu wo!
Buone Feste!
Merry Christmas!
Ii holide eximnandi!
Forhe Feiertage!
Hau’oli Lanui!
Beannachtaí na Féile

And have a wonderful New Year!

From Janit and Steve Calvo,
Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas

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