One of the first miniature gardens that we sold in 2001. The patio was made of sand and glass. This was built before I invented our Mini Patio Mix Kit, now anyone can create a custom, permanent patio that won’t wash away when you water nor when it rains.
Back to the Future: Predicting The Miniature Garden Hobby
It’s funny how an iconic movie from your childhood can make you think of the past, present and future at the same time. As kids we gobbled up those Back to the Future movies over and over. We all wanted to be Marty McFly and jump to the future to see what our family would look like too. The movie did a great job in making 2015 seem so far away it was unfathomable to think of.
Well, funnily enough, we predicted the future in our own way here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.
We relied on tiny toys and dollhouse miniatures found at a local miniature store here in Seattle, Dolly’s Dollhouse.
Being the first business dedicated to the art and craft of miniature gardening, I forged ahead and just started it in 2001. Who knew that creating a business with no customers wasn’t the thing to do? Scouring business books for start-up information was the only thing I could find, the Internet was very limited at that point, but hey, you could order books from the library on it. Nowadays, all you have to do is input your question and Google will provide.
Courtesy of the Wayback Machine (linked below) you can see where we first got the domain in 2001 and then got it up and running in 2004. Before the online store, we sold through eBay. (Click to enlarge.)
Wayback website: https://web.archive.org
Back to the Past: How to know if it was a good idea?
So how did I know if this miniature garden idea had legs when there was no one else doing it? It was my Ontario College of Art and Design training. During my last thesis presentation with my painting instructor, Paul Young. I asked him how do I know if it’s a good painting or not? How do I know if the painting is finished? He said, “Now that you are the artist, if it excites you, it will excite others.”
In the first years of Two Green Thumbs, there were times where I would just be overwhelmed with ideas and stopped in the middle of my studio, trying to synthesize all the potential in my head. At the weekend markets, where we tested out the idea for years, there were people who would just stop in front of our booth and stare at the miniature gardens. There was no talking to them during this trance either – they were trying to get their head around the notion of a tiny living garden in miniature too. Witnessing this trance fed my desire to bring the idea to the world and, amazingly enough, we did, one person at a time.
And, needless to say, if you are a miniature gardener you don’t need me to tell you just how juicy this idea is. How often have you been lost in your miniature garden world?
Jump to the Present
The first miniature gardens were over-planted a little too much, and quickly outgrew the pot within a season, with little regard to the plants needs. We quickly learned “right plant in the right place” applied to miniature gardens too.
Nowadays, everyone is on the fairy garden bandwagon in some form or another. Stores that quickly copied our business model years ago, duplicating our inventory and launching their own online stores now focus on fairy gardening instead. A Google search on “fairy garden” now generates over 8,500,000,000 results. You’ll find large displays of fairy garden items at most local, independent garden centers.
Major big-box stores are now on board. You’ll find new miniature sections at Michael’s Crafts now, and seasonal miniatures for the garden at JoAnn’s Fabrics. Hobby Lobby has always carried dollhouse miniatures but the department seems to have grown exponentially. And, lastly, the number of tiny businesses online that specialize in fairy gardening, mistaking it for miniature gardening, are everywhere on the web.
And Now to the Future
We’ve stayed the course here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and even though at times we’ve included the fairy garden idea into some of our inventory. blog and social media posts, we still stand firmly behind this miniature garden hobby.
We haven’t let the fairy idea take over our business model like other businesses have, because it wasn’t the fairies that entranced us to begin with – it was the miniatures and the garden.
Double-sided miniature gardens were not only fun to make, the clients loved them!
So, here we sit, still the leaders of the miniature garden hobby. Our plant selection is the best on the web, we offer true miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs from America’s top grower. Our miniature accessories, collected from many sources around the world, are realistic, detailed, in-scale and for the most part, weatherproof, reusable and renewable – we simply don’t want to generate landfill.
So? Like this? Want to follow the leader? If you are serious about your miniature gardening, join us here for our new weekly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter. It’s fast, fun and informative.
And checkout the world’s first Miniature Garden Center for all your miniature garden needs – because, after all, we wrote the book on it too.
Here is our eBook for Advanced Fairy Gardeners only. It’s an addendum to our Gardening in Miniature book. Click the picture for more info.