Posts Tagged condo gardening

How to Install Mini and Fairy Houses in Your Miniature Garden

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Working with Plow & Hearth’s miniature garden houses today. We’ve worked their Fairy Garden Cottage with Turret into an already existing miniature garden layout here and found that it can add another level of curiosity and enchantment.

How to Install Mini and Fairy Houses in Your Miniature Garden

Working a tiny house into your miniature garden design can add another dimension to an already existing layout. Once the viewer sees the tiny house, the story starts to evolve and curiosity starts to bubble and perk as the questions begin: Whose house is that? What’s going on inside? I wonder if I can I see inside? Houses and buildings are especially effective with young children because their ability to suspend realism is very endearing, as well as the house being big enough not to get broken or lost in the garden bed.

Shop Two Green ThumbsSo, with a little help from Plow & Hearth today, we have a few houses to play with in various ways in our miniature gardens here at our studio. It is interesting to note that the few rules that do apply to miniature gardening apply to using miniature houses too. We found that it is still the combination of plants, patio and accessories with the house, that come together to create that “Aaawwww!” moment that delights and enchants instantly. Let’s take a look at the photos to see what works and what doesn’t.

[Click on the photos to enlarge them.]

In the photograph above, we fit the house underneath the canopy of a Jacqueline Hillier Elm, top-left corner, next to small Shimpaku Juniper shrub to the left of the house, you see the tiny trunk. The tall column of the Sky Pencil Japanese Holly to the right of the house works as an anchor point and helps to put the building into perspective for us. The patio and furniture helps deliver the scale.

The bottom layer is filled with small-leafed Sedums and ground covers to cinch the garden beds and to nestle-in the accessories. I resisted the urge to clean-up the shot and left the fallen leaves and debris alone. Note that the simple things, like a log or a boulder, can add a sense of permanence to the scene.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The same house, simplified. If you took away one element, the plants, the patio or the chair, the scene would look incomplete.

Here, we’ve used the same house in a different part of the garden – it’s Plow & Hearth’s Miniature Fairy Garden Cottage with Turret. The fine-foliage of the beautiful Tansu Japanese Cedar canopy on the right helps to put the house in scale, the smaller Balsam Fir and ground cover Red Thyme finish the simple scene on the left. If we didn’t have the patio and chair to complete the idea, the house would look a bit lost. This patio is made from rolled marble pebbles and tumbled glass pieces and laid-in by hand with our Mini Patio Mix Kit.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I think there needs to be something else going on, like a birdbath or patio furniture. The house seems a bit lonely. Lol!

Unique and unusual miniature garden accessories, kits, plants and more.

When photographing the houses, we found more mystery by photographing the scene from behind a taller tree or full-sized plant. That is a Pixie Dwarf Spruce on the right and another Balsam Fir on the left. The big trunk behind the house is a full-size Alpine Fir. The patio was made from our stone sheets and locked-in with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. This is Plow & Hearth’s Resin Thatched Fairy Cottage.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Fitting a scene in an already existing garden still needed a bit of help to look right.

It was very fun to walk around the garden and see where the house looked its best but, funnily enough, we had to go back to our main components to get the look that we wanted. The patio and pathway situated the house enough to make it look like it belonged there and the smaller plantings brought the scale down to match the house. Here, in this photo, there were a couple of miniature garden trees and trees to work with: that amber-colored shrub to the left is a small heather and then to the left of that is a Pixie Dwarf Spruce help layer the full-size plants down to miniature.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I couldn’t resist pairing the house with the reds and pinks of that Rose Glow Barberry behind it.

Now you can start to see how the smaller plantings around the house make it work. Now I want to live there. This is the Plow & Hearth Miniature Stucco Fairy Garden Cottage with Thatched Roof.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The ground covers in this part of the garden were planted about 4 years ago. You can see how fun it is to left them grow and weave together. I’ll have to get in there next spring and weed out the New Zealand Brass Buttons (the mini fern-like plant) as it is fairly invasive.

Just a little patio is all you need – pardon the pun – this one was made from marble pieces, an ivory stone sheet and our Mini Patio Mix. The Plow & Hearth Adirondack chairs are an invitation to come on in and sit down. The stumps are staked to hold in place in the garden soil. Again, the rocks add a sense of permanence. Find the miniature garden ground covers up the our online store here.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Have fun tucking some miniature details here and there to pique the viewers curiosity and force them to come in for a closer look.

Sedum cuttings in the wee pots make the perfect miniature container plants. Now you can see how aggressive that New Zealand Brass Buttons is but it grows on runners, so you can easily shovel-prune it or pull up the runners by hand, but boy does it look sweet.

Plow & Hearth carries the best book on Miniature Gardening too, if I may add. See Gardening in Minature: How to Create Your Own Tiny Living World up in their store here.

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Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

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Miniature Gardening News From Around the World

Miniature Garden Plants is Our Specialty!

Flower Show Miniature Settings Photo

Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is caught taking photos of Dr. K’s miniature garden exhibit at the Singapore Garden Festival. Yay!! Photo from Louise Krasniewicz of the Flower Show Miniature Settings blog.

Miniature Gardening News From Around the World

Shop Miniature Gardens at Two Green ThumbsGeez, I take a week-off from blogging and miniature gardening goes on a world tour. Lol! Just in case you missedwhat’s been happening in the ever-growing world of The Little Hobby That Could, it’s making some serious headway throughout the world. Here is your update!

But First, Clarification for the Masses

But first, let us define our terms. Two things that stand out as I read the comments coming in from the general public, is that (1) miniature gardening is bonsai and (2) it is nothing new.

While bonsai is a form of gardening in miniature, this new way to garden is about just that – a garden. Bonsai means “tray-plant” (bon = tray, sai = plant) and its focus is on growing miniature versions of trees in shallow, tray-like pots. Bonsai really is an art form that requires diligence, patience and constant maintenance.

Miniature gardeners design with living plants and trees that mimic full-size plants, grow slowly and are planted as a garden in regular containers, or right in the ground. We adhere to the main garden rule, “right plant, right place” to minimize the maintenance so the garden is able to grow and weave together naturally. Most mini gardens are able to stay together for years before needing any repotting and the root-pruning is minimal, if it is needed at all.

Old fashioned miniature garden style

I used to make these a lot when I did the farmer, garden and craft markets. I called them “Old Fashioned Miniature Gardens” – it was the kind of garden your Grandma used to make. Nowadays it would be called a Fairy Garden. The blooming plant is an Armeria, or Pink Sea Thrift that is pulled apart into small starts. Photo Janit Calvo

And no, miniature gardening in not new – it’s just new to the marketplace and to most people, plus it needed some serious updating which is why I picked up the torch and ran with it. The one thing I discovered while selling my miniature gardens for years at farmers markets and trade shows, is that people have been miniature gardening and fairy gardening for decades. It was such a personal hobby, and there was no where to share it until social media linked everyone together, so it went unnoticed until recently.

Shop Two Green Thumbs

From The Gardens by the Bay website.

I’ve been captivate by these since seeing them on Instagram last year. The Singapore Garden Festival was held at the Gardens by the Bay where you’ll find these wonderful sculptures called the Supertree Grove. It must be amazing to see! Click the photo to visit the site. Photo from

Singapore Garden Festival Finds Miniature Gardening Fits the Bill

A delegation of miniature gardeners from the Philadelphia Flower Show’s Miniature Settings were invited to the Singapore Garden Festival to show, tell and teach about miniature gardening. Vice chair of the exhibit in PA, Louise Krasniewicz, was accompanied by Deb Mackie and Nancy Grube, all three are award-caliber miniaturists. Dr. K. (aka Louise) chronicled their journey on her Miniature Flower Show Settings Blog. It starts here and you’ll find links to the other exhibit and workshop posts further down on the page.

Your Miniature Garden CenterThe Huffington Post Tries a Little Gardening

The Huffington Post did a little miniature gardening last week and posted a series of different gardens found on the popular Hometalk website. The headline boasted fairy gardens but, alas, there was nary a fairy in sight in the photos they choose – temporary arrangements, terrariums and my twee garden ideas were included. Please feel free to like, repost, comment and share. Thank you, Huffington Post!

The Daily Mail Online Gets On Trend

The Daily Mail is a popular website from the UK. They highlighted a series of my photographs this week for all to see! The only thing – I wish they spelled my name right. Lol! See the gallery here. Please feel free to like, repost, comment and share. Thank you, Daily Mail!

And Houston? We Have a Contact in India!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll recognize these gardens as the winners of the international segment of our Great Annual Miniature Garden Contest last year. (The winners start here.) They are now up and running with their own website, (its a work-in-progress so check back!) and you can keep in touch with them on Facebook here.  

Who knew such a little garden could have so much impact?

Visit our online store for all the right plants, parts and pieces here.

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Happy Fourth of July in the Miniature Garden

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Here’s a quick and easy diy for a flag-banner for your July 4th Miniature Garden.

Happy Fourth of July in the Miniature Garden

After renovating this pretty miniature garden a couple of weeks ago, I was drawn to it again for a Fourth of July theme. I couldn’t resist the blue pot as the perfect base, and that Jacqueline Hillier Elm to hang my flags on. Happy Fourth Fellow Miniature Gardeners!

Click to enlarge the photos.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Rather than buy new accessories for a special occasion, collect the accessories that you already have that are the appropriate color. Or, you can paint, refreshen or update an worn accessory with the theme color – just keep the color palette simple so you can use the accessory after the holiday and it won’t look like it is a leftover or afterthought.

Find the Jacqueline Hillier Elm here.

Find the doghouse here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

This is a DIY that you could easily make for any theme. The flag was dragged-and-dropped from a Google image search into a Word file, then copied into a column and printed out. This idea can work with just about any theme from “It’s a baby!” to “Welcome Home.” 

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Collect marbles for an added splash of the red, white and blue. Floral wire shaped with a pair of round-nosed pliers are handy to have in your toolbox. The Made-in-the-USA birdhouse suits the theme perfectly.

Find the birdhouse here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

A drainage hole was drilled in the bottom of this wheelbarrow before it was planted. Even though it’s a miniature, it would still fill up with water or rain and rot the roots of the plants, if the water didn’t have anywhere to go. 

Find the wheelbarrow here.

Find the blue chair here.

Find the picnic basket here.

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

Experiment with different leaves to see what works. The miniature Calla Lily leaves mimic water lilies and the Saxifrage looks like mini water lettuce (Pistia) – I’m missing a zing of color though.

Find the green stone sheet here.

Find the Mini Patio Mix here.

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July 4th in the Miniature Garden

See our July 4th selection up in The Miniature Garden Center and click the photo above.

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Tips and Techniques: How to Renovate an Existing Miniature Garden

How to Renovate a Miniature Garden

A pretty miniature garden scene. This photo was take about 6 weeks after the project photos were done for our Gardening in Miniature book. The tree is a Jacqueline Hillier Elm, the two globe-shaped shrubs on either side are White Pygmy Dwarf Cypress.

 Tips & Techniques: How to Renovate an Existing Miniature Garden

Renovating a full-sized garden can be back-breaking work and take weeks to complete. Over the years of gardening in miniature, I’ve discovered it takes an average of 20 minutes to renovate a miniature garden – with no back-ache or sore muscles. In this post, we are revisiting a miniature garden that was made for the Pond in a Pot project in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book. I’ve been letting a few of the miniature gardens grow without doing any maintenance so you can see (a) how fun they can be to grow one and (b) how easy it is to garden in miniature.

Click to enlarge any photo.

How to make a miniature garden pond

Here is a summary of the Pond in a Pot project, from the Timber Press winter catalog, 2013.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

I left it to grow without doing any maintenance on it for the last year so you can see what happens – it’s still a cute garden! Our big puppy tends to rearrange our miniature garden accessories from time to time.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Tools for the task can be found easily.

Renovating a miniature garden is just as much fun as making one. You can easily get lost in your own little world, see what plants are growing wild, and what needs a bit of help. Just like full-sized gardening, you will have plants that don’t survive, or some that didn’t do well. With our changing winters, it’s good to keep an open mind if something didn’t make it through the hard-freezes of the polar vortex, for example. This gives you an opportunity to try a different plant, or choose a plant that is hardier than your zone. It’s easy to swap the the plants out with fresh ones, or fill-in the gap in the garden bed with a new accessory.

The tools you need, you can find around the house or in your garden shed. If you don’t have garden clippers, a sharp pair of scissors will do just fine. Designate a specific soup spoon and dinner fork for your miniature garden. Thrift stores are place to go for these. Pick up a sharp cutting knife while you are there, it will come in handy. Keep an old toothbrush for cleaning up your accessories or scrubbing-down your patio. A soft rag is handy for cleaning out the pond and wiping down the outside of the pot.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Begin by pulling out all the dead plants. The Dwarf Mondo Grass in all our gardens didn’t make it through last winter for some reason. (It’s hardy to 0F and our coldest temperature was 18F) Next winter, I’ll make sure I shear that White Pygmy Cypress (behind my hand,) to prevent it from getting leggy and to keep those wonderful creamy tips. This will help separate it from the Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly on the right.

Links for plants: Dwarf Pagoda Japanese Holly – Jacqueline Hillier Elm – Dwarf Mondo Grass – Red Thyme

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Trim back all the dead branches and foliage. Miniature roses follow the same rules as full-size roses, deadhead the spent blooms just above a 5-leaf branch. For other shrubs, trim back any dead branches, and branches that are criss-crossed in the middle of the plant and any branch that is growing downward.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

At this point in the season, you may have new buds mixed with spent buds. Take a moment to sort them out before deadheading (cutting off the spent blooms.)

Find miniature roses from our friends down in Oregon here at, there are dozens of them!

Miniature Garden Plants

This miniature ‘Popcorn’ rose is intermingling with this cypress (I’m not remembering the name!!) I’ll let the rose bloom for now, then trim it back, away from the cypress, when the flowers are done.

Miniature Garden Ebook

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Churn-up the top layer of soil with your garden fork. Throughout the year, all container gardens develop this crusty layer and redirect the water to the outside of the pot, away from the plant’s roots. By breaking up this layer, the water will go where it is needed. Churn up the soil gently around each plant.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Prune away all dead branches in the trees and shrubs. Prune or pinch-off any new growth along the trunk and lower branches to keep your tree looking like a tree.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Bail out your miniature garden pond.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

If the miniature garden is grown-in, you may be able to lift the pond-pot out gently, clean it up and replace it.

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Be careful not to get anything in the pond’s hole. You can barely see the upside-down pot that the pond is resting on at the bottom of the hole.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Replace the accessories. And you are done!

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Or create a new look by adding different accessories.

Janit's Mini Garden Etsy Store

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Little gaps in the ground covers create an opportunity to nestle-in another focal point.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

Add a couple of flowers to float in the pond. You can float the tiny flowers on leaves to make them look like water-lilies.

Your Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

If your miniature garden is big like this one is, have fun creating tiny vignettes throughout the garden. It lures the viewer in to take a better look. After seeing this picture, I may plant something low in front of the trellis to for more interest.

Garden tools are here – or see all our Tools and Equipment here.

Miniature Gardening Renovation How-To

A miniature garden flower arrangement can add a bit of color quickly and easily. See below for the How-To link.

The Cutest How-To in the Whole Wide World.

Find the Trellis with Wall-Pot, see more trellises here.

See our current stock of true miniature garden and fairy garden trees, shrubs, and plants right here.

July Fourth Miniature Garden

Or collect your favorite accessories to celebrate an occasion for a party or a barbecue.

Miniature barbecues are here and here. Blue wheelbarrow is here. White water can. Cherry red bench.

Like this? Then you will love our Mini Garden Gazette! Click into our main website to join us for more fun in the miniature garden.

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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Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture, The Coolest Garden Show

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Remember the Seahawk Garden Shed? This is the same one dolled-up for the big Sorticulture Garden & Art Show on this weekend.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture, The Coolest Garden Show

Great venue, great artists and great plants from local growers can be found at Sorticulture this weekend. Everett Parks and Recreation Department puts on this show in their beautiful, sprawling Legion Park that overlooks Puget Sound. Check out the osprey and eagles while strolling through huge sequoias and arborvitaes. Great food and refreshments too! Bring the whole family – it’s a great place for the kids too.

Click to enlarge the photos!

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

A bird’s eye view of the garden shed garden. It’s grown and morphed a bit over the years. In the lower, left-hand corner, we replaced the Chirmen Cypress that didn’t do well in full-sun with a new Bullata Spirea. We’re testing out the new Alpine Spirea in the upper left-hand corner and an Hinoki Cypress in the bottom, right-hand corner. That lovely yellow plant’s name is escaping me right now – I’ll come back and fix this when this ol’ noggin’ gives it up. Lol!  

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture 2014

Some of the Hens and Chicks grow up to be quite big. I didn’t have the urge to upset them, they were looking so lovely snuggled into the moss. That is a Thyme-Leaf Cotoneaster on the left just after it flowered.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The full display came together nicely. It’s always different as we adjust each year to fit in and around the established planting in the garden bed. I normally don’t photograph in the full-sun but I had no choice – it was a stellar day! 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This is the same garden on page 46 of the Gardening in Miniature book – the one with the Easter Island head in it. (Also shown on page 231.) The Hens and Chicks have grown in nicely.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

That tree is a perennial, Sea Foam Artemisia, that’s a bit stressed out. It should be full of foliage but it looks great this way as a miniature garden tree. It loves full sun and drier soil so I paired it with Sedum Button behind the chair, and White Diamond Sedums in the left and right corners. All plant colors match, all textures are very different. That small miniature garden with the Green Terra is the same one on page 48 in the Gardening in Miniature book.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I added a bit of whimsy, the show attracts a lot of kids and they love the tiny details as much as we do. Find new tiny miniature garden gnomes up in the online store. Link is below! The left-hand plant is Red Thyme, the right-hand variegated is Silene.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

This box was made by Lori of Scrapwood Studios, a fellow miniature gardener and crafter of fun home and garden decor. It’s a mix of sempervirens, or Hen and Chicks, and Sedum cuttings.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

We wanted to create a story for the dog in this miniature garden for our Sorticulture display this weekend. I’ve been thinking about these water balloons that Steve had stashed away because they were already small. I barely blew it up, tied a knot and cut off the big end. Found a string and undid a strand to tie it on the balloon. Stuck it in the tree and wound the string around a branch like the wind would do. Very. Fun. Red Thyme in the front, a variegated Cotoneaster trimmed into a tree shape in the back.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

A handmade trug from Albe Rustics ( If you go to the Sorticulture Show, you’ll see Vanca and Joe with all their fantastic twig furniture, tables, bar sets and trugs. Vanca makes some great garden flags too. 

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

One of the new tiny trees, a Top Point Dwarf Cedar is paired with Tricolor Sedum for a full-sun miniature garden. I planted the Cedar in the middle of the pot and put a rim of the Sedums behind it because the terra cotta pot will wicks the moisture out of the soil and away from the plant’s roots. The Sedums will be able to tolerate the dry soil much better than the tree will.

Miniature Gardening at Sorticulture 2014

I’m loving that I can show the same miniature gardens that are shown in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book. The garden was made in 2007, the photo of this garden in the book was taken in June, 2012 and here it still is. This Top Point Dwarf Cedar is flanked by two White Pygmy Cypress. The “grass” is Irish moss that has grown tighter and tighter over the years. The fountain is 7″ tall.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

If you go! You’ll find signed copies of the Gardening in Miniature book at the Sorticulture show too! The miniature garden display and the aforementioned twig furniture and YFMG, Lori and her gardens, are at the show, on the west side of the main building in the park. 

Find the miniature garden plants and accessories here, up in the online store here.

Want more insight into the plants and accessories that you see in the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World book? Please visit our Pinterest page that we set up, just for you here.

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New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part I

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

After a couple/few years of letting this Dwarf Wisteria tree grow in, I can prune it back next winter and still have a good-looking tree. The accessories here on one-inch scale. Click the picture to get to the store.

New Miniature Garden Trees for the New Hobby, Part I

Ahhh, summertime is just around the corner! A new season always brings new reasons to the miniature garden workbench: parties, barbecues, gardening, relaxing, enjoying, making fun and creating. Want to lower your blood pressure? Start a miniature garden. Want to escape from the every day? Create a miniature garden. Want to help clean the air around you? Grow a miniature garden. Want to make someone happy? Give a miniature garden. With a combination like that, miniature gardening could get very, very contagious. And we’ve only just begun.

So, with a new season, we bring new plants for your miniature gardening pleasure. Here are the newest trees to our inventory, three of which we have been selling for a while, (but we wanted to make sure they would work out before officially introducing them,) and the other four are promising candidates recommended by our grower. This is part one of two blogs on our new trees that are now in stock.

Miniature Garden Plants

Our Dwarf Wisteria, about three years after we planted it. The pot didn’t make it through last winter, but the tree did. This is one of the photos from the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, by Timber Press.

Dwarf Wisteria

I thought I might have killed it – again. But my Dwarf Wisteria (Millettia japonica ‘Hime fuji’) bounced back and looks as pretty as ever. I’ve left it to grow-in naturally to see what it does and I haven’t been disappointed. Mine turned into what I call a small country-garden tree, or a tall, leggy shrub that you can plant something in front of to hide the trunk.

It’s not a dwarf version of the real wisteria apparently, but it looks like one. Do note that it does not flower. Keep it in a sunny spot but don’t let the soil dry out. Trim the wayward branches back to maintain its bushiness. Gradually trim off the bottom growth/branches if you want more of a tree look. This gem can be moved inside for the winter if you are in one of the colder regions of the country, otherwise its hardy to 10F, (or about 35F if in a container,) cold zones 8 – 10, heat zones 10 – 7.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm is already a great looking miniature garden tree. Shear the canopy in winter and clear away any new growth along the bottom of the trunk when you see it. Shown here in a 4″ pot, they stand about 7″ tall right now. 

Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm

Charmed, I’m sure! We love this new Seiju Dwarf Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Seiju’) for it’s perfectly in scale trunk and tiny leaves. It’s a common tree for bonsai so we know it will work well in the miniature garden. The leaves will drop in the fall and leave an interesting framework as the stems develop an exfoliating bark, as they get older.

Trim wayward branches, it should promote more bushiness too. It prefers full to part sun, and moist, well-drained soil. It matures slowly, about 3” per year to 4 feet tall; you can slow this down even further by trimming it back in late winter. Keep the foliage pruned away from the trunk to keep the tree’s shape. Hardy to -20F (or -5F if in a container,) cold hardy zones 5 – 9, heat zones 9 – 5.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The crimson-red flowers on the Bullata Japanese Spirea are set off by the deep, slight bluish-green leaves, a lovely combination.

Bullata Japanese Spirea

A little shrublet for the miniature garden AND it flowers too. The Bullata Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica Bullata’) offers a deep green,

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The one in the middle is just finishing its first flush of flowers, the two on the left and the right are coming into their second flush. A great miniature plant without the flowers too.

broadleaf with clusters of rose-crimson flowers that flush out in late spring. This will be a very pretty compliment to the miniature and dwarf conifers in your miniature or fairy garden.

This spiraea (pronounced spy-REE-ah) is slow-growing at 2 to 4” per year, but for the miniature garden, shear this little bush back about one third each winter to help keep it small for years. Great for a full sun spot with soil that can remain damp. I think it can tolerate a little dryness, but never leave it too long in between watering sessions. Shear it after flowers in the spring and you’ll get a second bloom out of it. Hardy to -30F (or -15F if in a container,) cold zones 7 – 9. Heat zones 9 – 1.

Zoned Out

Don’t know your zone? The USDA developed a general cold zone map. And the American Horticultural Society developed a heat zone map for the other half of the country. Put the two together if you are in the southern states, and be sure to double-check to see if the plant you want is the correct heat-zone rating. Right plant, right place – but you may be surprised with a little experimentation too.

USDA Cold Zone Map is here.

AHS Heat Zone Map is here.

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Gardening in Miniature book

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Miniature Gardening in the Southeastern States

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I was hired to do a talk and demo for three days so I took the opportunity to make three different gardens. The silver shrub is a Blue Star Juniper. The burgundy bush is the Helmond Pillar Barberry matched with Red Thyme. Perfect for an eastern or cool sun spot.

Miniature Gardening in the Southeastern States

When you start looking for the plants that will suit miniature gardening, you’ll find a new world of plants will open up to you. The same thing happened when I was asked to do a talk at the wonderful Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Disney World. Southeastern climates with extreme heat and humidity will need plants that can withstand those conditions if you want them to thrive. I started my search with my short-list of ways to find plants for miniature gardening, consulted my library and found that some of our plants that we’ve been working with for years will work too. Here are the results.

Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs

America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, TwoGreen – we love all things garden AND miniature!

What’s a Miniature Garden Plant?

Not everyone knows what a “miniature garden plant” is yet, and some nurseries are mixing up the fairy garden idea with miniature gardening. Just because it has a “fairy” name, doesn’t mean it will work as a miniature. And, just because it has small leaves, doesn’t mean it will suit either. Here, on the other hand, is what will work if you focus on the right combination of small leaves, slow growth rate and the height of the plant and its flowers. Note that what I mean by the height will depend upon whether you are using that plant as a tree, shrub or bedding plant – and that includes flowers too. Look for small-leafed and slow growing: – Rockery plants – Miniature and dwarf plants, (‘miniature’ and ‘dwarf’ are growth rates) – Alpine plants – Baby plants – Ground covers

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

For this set-up, I anchored the bed with a Top Point Dwarf White Cedar, (the tall tree,) the round shrub is a Red Tip Podocarpus and matched with Dwarf Mondo Grass and a Fairy Vine. A good combo for cool sun or part sun with regular water.

Tips for growing Two Green Thumbs’ trees in southern climates:

A lot of the trees that you buy in 4” pots for miniature gardening are little balls of young foliage. In cooler climates the air helps keep the plant at a comfortable temperature if you keep the conifer dieback cleaned out of the center where it tends to collect in the young shrub. In more humid climes, you can help the young shrubs get air circulation into the wee canopy by “opening them up.” With a little patience and a sharp pair of garden scissors, carefully prune out the middle branches on the shrub.

Unique and unusual miniature garden accessories, kits, plants and more.Work gradually and always take the entire plant into consideration before each snip. Cutting the wrong branch or a “big” branch can compromise the overall look of the shrub. Start with cutting away any criss-crossing branches, snip any downward branches and then concentrate on shape.

Plant in part shade or part sun to avoid that strong afternoon sun. Many of our plants can handle the full sun in northern climates where the sun is a bit cooler, and the ground stays evenly damp. You can mimic these conditions by giving the plant a cooler spot to grow in with cooler sun, eastern sun, dappled light or on the northern side of the house.

Don’t over plant. Our tendency is to fill up the garden right away to get that look of a “real” garden – and that’s one of the joys of gardening in miniature: instant gratification. But, in some southern regions where there is a lot of humidity, the trees will appreciate any extra air circulation that they can get. So not only help the tree/shrub with a little pruning, plant the plants further apart so the air can go through the plants to keep them healthy.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

The combination can handle a little bit more sun. The yellow shrub is a Limeglow Juniper, paired with a Teeny Mugo Pine and an Elfin Thyme for the lowest layer.


Rethink your plant selections. You can always change your thinking and consider the miniature and dwarf conifers as annual plants that will last for a couple/few months. Hinoki Cypress or any dwarf Spruce can certainly be enjoyed over the holiday months until they start to fade. Don’t’ think of the initial cost of the tree as an expense, but rather as entertainment, and amortize the cost over the 4 to 6 months that you can enjoy your miniature garden – I bet it’s cheaper than a latte!

And, it’s easy to replace too – swapping out a miniature garden tree for a fresh one takes minutes – and you can still go to work on Monday morning a brag about all the gardening you got done on the weekend. Lol!

Here is a list of miniature garden plants that we stock in our online store that don’t mind the heat and humidity of the southeastern garden. Note that not all plants are not available at all times and there may be some trail and error needed in finding out what they need to be happy.

Your Miniature Garden CenterRed Tip Podocarpus – Podocarpus aplinus ‘Red Tip’
Blue Star Juniper – Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’
Groundcover Juniper – Juniper horizontalis
Tansu Japanese Cedar – Cryptomeria japonica ‘Tansu’
Ulmus parvifolia ‘Hokkaido’ – Dwarf Chinese Elm
Dwarf Mondo Grass – Ophiopogon japonica Nana
Fairy Vines – Muhlenbeckia complexa
Lily Turf – Lirope spicata
Sedums – small leafed

Please refer to our online store for what is available here. Not all the plants are available at all times.

I’ve shown the results of the demos on our next blog here.

The books I consulted in my library, in addition to our bestselling Gardening in Miniature Book: Create Your Own Tiny Living World or find in our Amazon affiliate store here.

Succulent Container Gardens, by Debra Lee Baldwin, published by Timber Press (Our Amazon store.)

Miniature Garden Guidebook for Beautiful Rock Gardens, Container Plantings, Bonsai, Garden Railways, by Nancy Norris (Our Amazon store.)

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Your Miniature Garden Center

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