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Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden

Bursting buds on a wee Canada Hemlock. Tsuga canadensis 'Loowit'

From the Archives, April, 2009: Bursting buds on a wee Canada Hemlock. Look to your miniature and dwarf conifers for proof that spring is finally here!

Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden.

I’ve got my fleece hoodie on, my wool socks and a hat – and I’m inside in my office. Did someone forget to order spring? I’m itching to get out in my garden and get growing! The only upside is that the plants don’t care and our spring flowers are pushing through the cold spring temperatures.

So, what to do? We need to appease our inner gardener. It’s spring. Here are some ideas to get you gardening.

 

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Rain is Good

It’s really not so bad. Don your rain gear and get out in it. With your “space-suit” on and an iPhone playing your favorite music or podcast, you instantly create your very own bubble and can have a lovely time getting some much-needed chores done. Want to make the world go away? This is how you do it. Lol!

TIPS:

  • Have a couple pairs of garden gloves handy so when one pair gets wet, you can change into dry ones, and keep going.
  • Don’t work the soil when it’s completely wet, you’ll damage all the microcosms and air-pockets in the soil and make mud.
  • You can always pull weeds and clean-up your walkways and driveway.
  • Prune your shrubby perennials. If your trees are still dormant and not showing any new buds at all, you can still prune. If you have any questions regarding any plants from our Miniature Garden Center store, email us.
  • You can clean out and organize the garden shed. There’s nothing like puttering in the garden shed or on your porch with the rain pattering on the roof.
  • Clean-up your containers – or let the rain do it. Put your empty pots out in the rain to get washed, and take a scrub brush to them if needed.

 

 

Divide and Share

This cold spring has given us a little more time to dig up and divide some of our perennials, if you haven’t already done so. Ground covers follow this general rule: the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap. By dividing your ground covers in your miniature garden every three years, they’ll stay in check.

TIPS:

  • Plant any extra divisions in different parts of the garden to create a more cohesive, overall design.
  • Watch out for the dormant plants that you can’t see yet! Refer to your photos from last summer so you don’t accidentally dig it up or bury it.
  • When you do replant, take care to mix up the foliage textures a bit. Contrast leaf textures and match or compliment the leaf-color. If all the foliage is the same size the garden bed, full-size and in miniature, will look too sketchy. By mixing-up small leaves with big leaves, and the conifer’s needles with the unusual foliage of a Hinoki cypress, for example, you’ll have professional looking garden design.
  • Share extra plants with your neighbors, make another miniature garden, or plant them up in pots to donate to a charity plant sale later in the season.
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More from the archives, April, 2009. I can lead a snail to water, but I’ve never seen him drink…!

Armchair Miniature Gardening

There is always virtual miniature gardening too! Here is a bunch of inspiration at your fingertips:

Like this? Join us and thousands of other like-minded miniature gardeners for your weekly Mini Garden Gazette. It’s free! Sign up here: TwoGreenThumbs.com

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Miniature Settings from the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Nancy Grube’s garden was my Best of Show. I guess I’m just not understanding the criteria because this was, by far, the best Miniature Settings entry in this exhibit in my opinion. Nancy’s focus was on the plants, here stellar-eye for scale and details were just as focused.

Miniature Settings from the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Here are the Miniature Settings from this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show in case you missed it. You can probably tell my ‘Best of Show’ by the number of photos below – it was Nancy Grube’s ‘The Old Mill Stream,’ which certainly checked all my boxes. Deb and Jim Mackie’s display, ‘The Call of the Siren,’ was stunning as usual. I imagine she made the mermaid and the horse, and her seascape was delightfully awesome. Midge Ingersoll’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ is up there in my books as well. She did a fantastic job including a boat, dock, shed and garden all in one tiny scene. But, all-in-all, it was Nancy’s trees and garden that did it for me in ‘The Old Mill Stream.’

See all the exhibits below. I won’t do any individual comments as the bulk of this exhibit wasn’t very impressive compared to previous years. You can compare them too, here are the exhibits from 2014 here, and here – and 2015 is here.

What Does the Best of the Best Mean?

My question remains how the other types of exhibits within the huge Philadelphia Flower Show seem to attract high-quality work, but this Miniature Settings exhibit does not. It’s first-come-first-serve to participate, which is apparently how the rest of the show’s exhibits operate, but where is the quality and the expertise? See the comparison from 2014 here, and here – and 2015 is here.

I also realize that it may not easy as it may seem. There was at least one other IGMA-level miniaturist in this group besides Deb Mackie – or at least I thought so – but it doesn’t show and leaves us wanting for more. (IGMA.org)

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They built new cases for this year’s show that were lighter in color – apparently the miniature details show better when the frames are darker, so I’m not sure how that detail was missed. They were hard to view with the glare on the windows too. And forget about trying to get a good photo without the glare – it was impossible to figure out with a long line-up of people behind you waiting for you to move along…

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I think I’ve posted all the entries in the order these exhibits were presented at the show. You can see the name of the exhibitor, the judge’s comments, the ribbons that were handed out to every exhibit as well as the plant lists. Everyone who didn’t win, got an Honorable Mention ribbon! Lol!

I was initially under the impression that the chosen award for best of show this year was because it was made by a middle school garden club – but the judging is supposedly done blind. (Judging blind means they don’t see the name of the artist when they judge it.) So, that blew that theory… You can see the big purple ribbon on it in the photos below.

Note that this is very different from our miniature gardening and should not be confused with one another. Here’s more on the difference. Most of the plants they use in their displays are tender tropicals, very young perennials or both – with some conifers included for structure.

Let me know what YOU think in the comments below. What’s your best of show? What do you think compared to the previous year’s that I linked above? (Any name-calling or overly negative comments will be edited or deleted altogether – this Mini Garden Guru blog is beholden to no sponsor, no club nor any other company but my own.)

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10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the US

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The Wonder of Garden Shows: the Philadelphia Flower Show.

10 Reasons Why the Philadelphia Flower Show is the Best Garden Show in the U.S.

I just got back from the huge Philadelphia Flower Show last Monday and I’m still reeling about the show. It was awesome. This is my third time going to this show and it truly is the best garden show in the United States hands-down. Here are 10 reasons why.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

I missed getting this volunteer’s name but her hat is divine…

1. It’s All About Volunteers

The Philadelphia Flower Show is hosted by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and is completely organized and driven by volunteers. The simple fact that it’s built by volunteers takes the pressure off the money and puts the focus back on the plants, education and gardening.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

All protein, no carbs! Lol! This show doesn’t have any filler-booths with food or junky home decor. The booth space is always sold out too.

2. It’s All About the Plants

95% of the show is about gardening, plants and the environment – including the marketplace. You won’t find rows and rows of food vendors hawking their mustard, nor a whole sections of shabby-chic indoor decor just to fill up the booth space.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

Collaborating with other professionals and businesses forces them to come up with more and more creative solutions each year. This show just keeps getting better and better.

3. They Collaborate

As you walk through all the exhibits and competitions you notice that all kinds of schools, universities, garden clubs – and kid’s garden clubs, societies, museums, art galleries, small businesses plus a large number of visual artists and floral designers are involved throughout the show in many different ways. It seems no one is pigeon-holed into only having one way to participate.

The huge garden displays are built by many different companies to create wonderfully creative displays that are dramatic and memorable. There were a number of displays representing different countries as well. How refreshing!

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Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

One of the many different displays of artwork made from the garden! How awesome is this necklace??

4. They Think Outside the Garden Bed

Among the garden displays are many different categories of garden art made for the garden and from the garden. Sculptures, paintings, abstract arrangements of all shapes and sizes, Ikebana, and jewelry – my favorite – everything is made from nature but it never looks like it!

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There is always a strong art-element to this great show. This is just a small part of the 1280 square foot mural that was in the middle of the show.

5. They Love Art

OMG. I can’t say enough about how the PHS and the city of Philadelphia work together to promote the arts. Not only does it make a great flower show, it makes for a great city too. Giant tulips sticking out of buildings and huge bronze sculptures – art is everywhere in Philly!

6. It’s Very Accessible

The Philly Flower Show is held in the Philadelphia Convention Center which is right on top of train station. Easy for everyone.

7. They Give Back

Proceeds from this show drives the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s “green” projects for around the greater Philadelphia area. A great example is their Tree Tender Program  plants over 2000 trees annually, since 1993.

8. They Keep Growing After the Show

The PHS has a very long reach into garden education and outreach programs that happen throughout city and state for the rest of the year. They have community gardens, parks, public landscapes that involve thousands of city residents “to make the city a more livable, likable and vibrant place to live and work.”

This year the Philly Flower show added a “Water Summit” to their agenda that was open to everyone – and for anyone. They brought in leading environmentalists and industry experts to educate us on real-world solutions to the issues we face in keeping our fresh waters clean and drinkable.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

My Best of Show pick from the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit. The artist is Nancy Grube.

9. They Honor Different Ways to Garden

Within the show itself, the different classes of competitions help to remind us of the many different types of plants and trees that we can grow AND they encourage and inspire us to do so. But, more importantly from my perspective, they include our beloved Miniature Gardening. They have two classes of miniature gardening PLUS the Miniature Setting Exhibit which is one of the best attended exhibits with a constant line up from the time the show opens right to when it closes.

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The PHS honors many types of gardening. This is just a fraction of it – the Wardian case competition.

10. It’s Not About the Money

It’s about community, education, the environment, art and gardening. Sure they need to make money to keep it going, but that’s not the focus – the people are. Yes, there is a marketplace within the show for shopping, but most of the floor is devoted to the exhibits with a few stages for education sprinkled throughout the floor plan.

And, its official, I’m jealous. Lol!

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

There were a lot of lovely displays by floral designers too.

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

The garden displays kept going and going… it’s always lovely and inspiring!

 

Philadelphia Flower Show, 2018

While some of the displays were totally out of the box, other displays could easily be replicated at home. Very inspiring!

 

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Miniature Garden Plants: Miniature Settings Exhibits Vs. Real Miniature Gardening

Miniature Gardening at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature Garden Displays: Miniature Settings Exhibit Vs. Real Miniature Gardening

NOTE: The photos in this blog are from the 2014 show. The Miniature Settings Exhibit has since changed hands, and the quality of the exhibits is apparently very different from what you’ll see here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is home to the only major Miniature Garden Settings exhibit in the world – and it happens to be one of the most well attended exhibits at the show too. I’m on my way there in March where I will be speaking at the Gardener’s Studio stage on Saturday, March 10th at 2pm, the second Saturday of the show to promote my second book, Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop: Handmade Accessories for Your Tiny Living World.

When I finally saw the gorgeous miniature displays in person last year, I realized it was completely different than the type of miniature gardening that I have taught for well over a decade. I knew it was different, but it wasn’t until I received this email last August that I realized other people didn’t know the difference – even some of the people who are participating in the exhibit.

“Dear Janit,
I have been invited to show in the miniature class in the next Philadelphia Flower show and not too long ago ordered several plants from you. Unfortunately a few of the plants were way too big in scale to be used, one died and another is on its way out. It seemed like a great deal of money and I was sorry I spent it for so little return. I, therefore, will not be ordering from you again and could not, in good conscience, recommend you to anyone else.   [Name and location removed]”

Whoa. It’s like I took her $75 and hightailed it to Mexico. Lol! Yea, our type of miniature gardening is well, gardening!

Right plant, right place works for miniature gardens – and all types of gardens, wherever you are and whoever you are. Plants are the great leveler of society, they only care if they did not receive the right growing conditions, and not money, nor fame, nor status – nor any nasty email – can change that.

This poor woman spent almost $75 on a Slowmound Mugo Pine, Dwarf Hens and Chicks, Mini Sweet Flag, Gemstone Hinoki Cypress and Piccolo Balsam Fir that included the Tansu Cryptomeria and Jersey Jewel Japanese Holly. Had she asked if any of these plants were ideal for her project, I would have cautioned her about how to use them – and the fact that they are outdoor plants would be first on my list.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings – The Birds by Louise Krasniewicz. Click to enlarge the photo and you will see a blend of young plants, plant starts, indoor and outdoor plants. This method of growing and combining plants works wonderful for the settings exhibit, but would not be expected to last if it was planted as a miniature garden.

And what she didn’t notice is that all the pot sizes are mentioned in the text and shown in the photo with my hand as a reference to the size of the plants.

I hope she didn’t plant these all together because would be a disaster: The mugo pine and hens and chicks are outdoor plants, love full sun and drier, well-draining soil. The Mini Sweet Flag prefers wet soil, shade and can be grown indoors and the rest are outdoor plants, prefer evenly damp soil and part sun/shade.

All these differences and growing details are always mentioned in each listing underneath the multiple photos of each plant in our online store.

Thankfully, I’m from “the east coast” and knew that it was just a misunderstanding, albeit an irritating one. I wrote her back explaining the difference, included some references and wished her luck in the exhibit.

But despite my compassion for teaching and sharing the joy of gardening in miniature for almost two decades, I’m human and the email did ruffle my feathers a bit. I haven’t stayed in business for over 18 years by supplying the nation with miniature plants that don’t work. I didn’t fill the bestselling book on the hobby, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, with false pretenses and nor did the world’s top horticultural publisher, Timber Press, print a book filled with wrong information. Why did she jump to such radical conclusions? Because people hate being wrong.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

A close-up of Louise’s garden beds – they were impeccable. She plays with rooting cuttings and uses them while they are young. Begonias and succulents are her favorite. That burgundy colored plant is a very young coleus. The wee garden bed looks perfect! (Click to enlarge.)

So, Janit, What is the Diff?

Dr. K of the Miniature Garden Settings exhibit blog has put together a database of the plants used in the exhibit. It’s a work in progress and she has about 300 plants listed so far. I’ve scanned through the list and yes, there are plants that we use that can last for years in our miniature gardens but majority of the plants aren’t for our type of gardening in miniature.

The exhibit is only supposed to last for about two weeks and sometimes the plants have to be switched out either due to being too stressed out because they are growing in abnormal conditions, or they are growing too fast.

Here are some observations on their techniques and examples of plants that won’t work for a long-lasting miniature garden. I imagine the artists have many more and I look forward to learning more from them.

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

This is the Mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Pamela Goldman. Young date palms are combined with air plants, Sedums, young begonias and small-leafed perennial starts. The effect is superb but the combination is not expected to last long.

 

Miniature Settings Exhibit Techniques

– Over-planted: Almost all the displays are deliberately over-planted to look lush and full.

– Temporary: It is not planted as a garden that is meant to stay together for years like we do. It’s only meant to last the for the show.

– Mixing Plants: The artists plant indoor with outdoor plants, light loving with shade loving because, again, the display does not have to last long.

– Fast Growing: Ground covers and rockery plants are a favorite because they can be grown quickly and the young plants add color and texture to the miniature setting-scene. Examples: Lamium, Veronica Speedwell, Candy Tuft, Pileas – all plants that I would NOT recommend for the real miniature garden because they are too fast growing.

– Young starts: A number of the plants are really young babies that we’re grown for this purpose only. Plants are swapped out during the show if they get too big. The artists have more plants growing behind that wall for this very reason. Here’s more…

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Settings Plant List from Dr. K.

This is Dr. K’s long plant list from her Birds display from last year’s show. You can see the wide variety of plants used in just one setting. The task of creating the display and planting the tiny gardens is an art unto itself and I don’t think it could not be done any other way.

Miniature Settings Exhibit Plants Explained

– Seedlings, Starts and Young Plants: The exhibitors cultivate plant starts, or use very young plants that mimic full-sized garden plants. The leaves and stem are usually the perfect size and the variety of textures look fantastic in the wee garden beds – but it’s not going to last. Examples: Polka Dot plant, Kalanchoe, Creeping Jenny, Catnip, Lavender, Rosemary, Sorrel and even culinary Thyme is suggested as a miniature plant. All these plants will grow up within one growing season and will not stay miniature.

– Unusual Plants: Depending upon the topic of the scene, some of the plants listing in the database are plants that have surreal look, instead of being an ideal plant for a miniature garden, regular-sized Aloe and the Living Stones (Lithops) for example. Bog-loving plants, like the Bog Rosemary are listed – I would not grow a miniature garden in a bog. And fragile plants or plants that are fussy to grow are not on my list of favorites either simply because life is too short to fuss, examples are the Maidenhair Fern and the Mimosa.

I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions about the different kinds of miniature garden plants used in this fabulous display at the Philly Show – and I hope the display is still fabulous under this new management. It is much different than real miniature gardening if you take the time to notice, unlike our friend who wrote the nasty email to me.

If you have any further questions or comments, please leave them below. I would be glad to know what I have missed.

Come and see my talk and demo at the show! I’m on at 2pm, Saturday, March 10th, 2018, at the Gardeners Studio Stage. Here’s the PHS website for the show, I’m not sure when they’ll have the event calendar done.

Join us – but only if you want to know more about “real” miniature gardening! Sign up for our Mini Garden Gazette newsletter to get in on the fun here.

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Miniature Gardening on the East Coast!

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book tour is on its way to the East Coast! 

Miniature Gardening on the East Coast!

Come one, come all! Come and play and laugh and get inspired! This is serious! Lol!

Hey, I’ll be at two different venues THIS weekend. Come and see my Plow & Hearth Very Fairy Christmas House Renovation to see what YOU can do with your fairy houses! I’ll be decorating the house for the holidays throughout Thursday evening, November 2nd, from 4pm to 7pm at the Plow & Hearth, Marlton, NJ, store. Be sure to print out the coupon below just in case you find something you like – they have a bunch of new miniatures this season. (Or keep it on your phone, I’m sure that works as well.)

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AND I’m at the largest miniature show on the east coast, the Philadelphia Miniaturia show, note that Friday night is the preview night that requires a special ticket – here’s the details:

Philadelphia Miniaturia Show
Friday November 3rd through Sunday November 5th 2017

To be admitted on the 3rd, you must purchase a preview ticket for $25 (covers full weekend admission)
Preview hours are 6pm – 9pm Friday and 9am – 10am Saturday

General Admission – Show hours Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 11 – 4. Daily admission $10 Adults, $4 Children under ten

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ.

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Can’t make either? Join us for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette each Friday (this Friday is an exception.) Sign up here.

Want to jump in and dig deeper? Check out our Miniature Garden Society Community Website here.

And for everything miniature garden and then some, check out our new website at MiniatureGarden.com

 

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How to Make the World a Better Place: Vote With Your Wallet, Part II

 

 

How to Make the World a Better Place: Vote With Your Wallet, Part II

I have written previously about using your wallet as your voice as to what products you want to see on the store shelves – and leaving the poorly made crap behind to show that, as a consumer, you don’t like it nor want to see it. Well, it’s about time to dig a little deeper on this one.

Because it’s important to note that this applies to business-to-business relationships too, because it seems that some of us have gotten used to being mistreated, bullied or disrespected by some leaders in our industries.

The good news is that we no longer need to tolerate bad behavior and this is actually having a ripple-effect throughout the world, as you can see by the news of late.

Miniature Garden PlantsSo, we need to vote with our wallets a lot more carefully nowadays because we need to support the good guys. We need to support the companies that care about what we value, and care about the environment. We need to support kindness and compassion. We need to support all the good in the world and only focus on the good.

There is no other way out of this mess that we have found ourselves in but to take a stand against the negativity, waste and disrespect that we’ve come to regard as a “normal” way of doing business. Stop to think about it for a second – do you want that company or individual to continue to get progressively worse? Or to learn to do better?

Here are some questions to get you thinking about how you can make the world a better place just by being more aware of WHO you are patronizing and supporting as a paying customer in any way.

 

  • Is the company/association that you patronize run by a good person? Are they friendly, understanding and compassionate? Or, do they rule with an iron fist, bully, yell and scream if they disagree with something?

 

  • Is the association that you’re paying to be a member of, have the same values that you do? Or are they selling themselves out, (and, in turn, they are selling you out too,) for the sponsorship money or advertising revenue?

 

  • Is the product your thinking of buying made from a reputable company with a strong moral compass?

 

  • Is the product that you are buying future landfill? Can it be reused or recycled?

 

And then the rest is simple: just don’t buy it. That’s it. 

These are just a few thoughts to let you know that you can be proactive with whatever you do in little ways that can easily add up to taking a giant step toward making the world a better place. If you don’t like your own answers, maybe it’s time to stop buying into their negative ways because it can be a simple as that.

Grow your own world.

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New Adventures in the Miniature Garden

New Adventures in the Miniature Garden

Hey Fellow Miniature Gardeners! There’s something new growing-on here at our Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Studio here in Seattle. I tried a video letter for last week’s Mini Garden Gazette newsletter and, well, the response was terrific! And it was fun. And it was easy. Who doesn’t like that?

So, I’ll be doing a short video letter each week for the Mini Garden Gazette newsletter that will give you a dose of inspiration, a tip to add to your arsenal or a technique that you can apply to your gardening in miniature. Sound fun? Sign up to join us here.

 

Links from the above video:

Mini Garden Gazette newsletter signup – the ONLY miniature garden newsletter for the hobby!

The Gardening in Miniature: How to Create Your Own Tiny Living World – a primer for the hobby!

Miniature Gardening 101 Series – a quick series to get you jump-started.

MiniatureGardenSociety.org – we’re digging deeper and dreaming bigger!

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center – serving the miniature garden hobby since 2001!

Thank you for watching and thank you for reading!

 

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