Posts Tagged gardening

UPDATE: Miniature Garden Therapy Mission: Spark Joy!

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

Operation Spark Joy continues! Steve and I headed south to the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Wa., to check in on the garden and to decorate it for the Fourth. 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier’s Home

Hey! It’s working! The response we’re getting from our miniature garden that we built on behalf of The Miniature Garden Society at the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Wa., is collecting some terrific feedback! As we mentioned in the first blog, and as I was reminded of when I was speaking with one of the staff members, the staff is enjoying it just as much as the residents are. Lol!

But, I didn’t prepare for the one “being” that loves it too: SQUIRREL! I knew they were a bit of a pest from the feedback from the other gardeners, but I didn’t expect to lose entire plants to them. Our go-to method to deter these critters is cayenne pepper, (see our squirrel-blog here,) but it’s a public garden and I will never be sure who’s going to play in it. I am going to try planting larger plants instead, with deeper roots.

Anyway, here are the updated photos, click to enlarge (but I’m not sure this works on all platforms.) If you want to compare them to the initial planting, it’s here. You can see a lot of the more-fragile plants didn’t make it – and they were mostly Sedums that didn’t have a lot of roots at the time. An interesting lesson.

 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

Our farmer’s fields will start to look better in the fall. The silo is holding up well. 

 

 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

The micro gravel around the base of the silo was completely gone, so we hid the board with soil instead. I’ll need to think of a better solution that won’t wash away when the garden is watered – oh yeah! That’s my Mini Patio Mix Kit. Lol!  

 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

What Hens and Chick were left were a bit tattered. We’ll fix it next time! :o)

 

 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

This chair was one of my experiments for my new Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book that is making its way to your local bookstore – or find it up on our online store here. I found an easier way to do the stars that became the project in the book. 

 

Miniature Garden at the Washington Old Soldier's Home

We met Gus this time and he told us that he keeps people from touching the garden all the time – he told us to keep our hands off too before we told hin what we were there for. We’ve since named him “Guardian of the Garden.” Lol! 

 

Find out how to make this Tree Dress that is very quick and easy to install, from our NEW Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, click the ad above!

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How to Insert Charm into Your Miniature Garden with Authentic Patios and Pathways

Miniature Garden Study, Patios and Pathway Materials

Stone sheets make for a no-brainer solution for the miniature garden patio. Lock them in permanently with the Mini Patio Mix.

How to Insert Charm into Your Miniature Garden with Authentic Patios and Pathways

We’re bringing charming back to the miniature garden. For us here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, it never really left. Why? Authenticity.

Charm, noun
1. the power to delight or attract people
2. a feature or quality that delights or attracts (often used in the plural)

Charm, verb
1. to delight or attract people
2. To influence somebody by using powers of attraction
3. to affect somebody or something by, or as if by, the use of a supposed magic spell

Aha! Magic! That must be it! You’re probably thinking to yourself, FAIRY MAGIC….wo Green Thumbs' Mini Patio Mix Kit Ad

But no. It’s simple: scale and authenticity

(Stay with me on this one! ;o)

The key ingredients that you can easily bring to your miniature gardens are realism, proportion and scale. If your accessories are realistic and in-scale with each other, you’ll get the charm.

And something that is not so obvious but is a very valuable element for a charming garden in miniature: the authentic miniature patio.

The addition of a patio or pathway increases the appeal of a true garden in miniature because it helps the viewer to identify the fact that it is a real miniature garden instead of a container full of small plants.

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The miniature patio cinches the scale immediately because we know how big the mini patio is supposed to be. After all, we stand on them all the time, right? But it tends to be the last thing we think of when we put a miniature garden together and we end up dumping a bunch of marbles in for a path, include an odd collection of rocks for the patio, or layer-in colored stones that you would never see done in a full-size garden.

Take a look at the following examples of the different sizes of miniature gardens to get an idea of what I mean by paying attention to the patio materials in the following photos:

(Click to get into the bigger slideshow. It works better on a regular computer.)

Checkout the Miniature Garden Patio and Pathway Department in our store for easy solutions to add charm to your miniature or fairy garden scene.

Be sure to lock in your design with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. The only solution design specifically for miniature gardeners by a miniature gardener! They come in several different ways too, see them here. ;o)

We’ve remained authentic too. All our accessories are based in realism and are categorized by size here, in our Miniature Garden Center store. We’ve stayed with true with our gardening in miniature because that is where the magic really is.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette! The world’s only regular newsletter completely dedicated to gardening in miniature. Join us here.

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Sharing Ideas with the New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

The Gnome Garden in the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book was a fun one to create – I’m still pinching myself that I had this opportunity to share my ideas with the world. The projects in this garden are the gnome door and the log border that lines the “veggie bed.”

Sharing Ideas with the New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

When opening day came around at the big Sorticulture Garden Art Show last weekend in Everett, Wa., (about an hour north of Seattle,) fellow miniature gardeners started introducing themselves right away. It was an awesome welcome-back!

We’ve been trying to figure out the last time we set up our Miniature Garden Center Store at a garden show and, well, we decided it’s been a few years because we just couldn’t remember. So it was an extra special treat to see a boatload of old friends and customers! We also had the chance to put a face to the names that we’ve been seeing on the orders from our online stores too. Super fun! We must do that again before too long!

Here’s a photo essay of our display that we brought with us. Note that these gardens were made 3 & 4 years ago. You can compare them to the photos in the Prop Shop book to see how much – or how little, lol! – they’ve grown.

And apologies, we were so busy, we didn’t get many other photos of the booth, the miniature gardens that I made for it, (!) nor any of my fellow miniature gardeners. I guess I need to take a page from the younger generation and just have my phone out ALL the time, ready to click, click, click away! :o)

 

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

A birthday cake for the miniature gardener. Lol! I’ve thought of several versions of birthday cake gardens throughout the years, it was fun to finally get one of them out of my head. In this chapter, you will learn how to make that fun little garden sign and how to customize any container.

 

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Bird’s eye view of the Deserted Island Survival garden. The projects in this chapter are the treehouse and the wee cave. Both of these projects have been out in the weather all year since they were made in 2015 and have survived.

 

 

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

In the World Tour section of the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, we took a trip to Spain. In this chapter, I teach you how to age a resin fountain and how to create a pretty mosaic patio in a few simple steps.

 

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Aquascaping was supposed to be one of the chapters, that’s why we have an odd number of 37 projects in the book. After killing 17 fish, I decided upon an easier version: a miniature garden that looks like it’s underwater. Can you tell it’s one of my favorite? The projects in this chapter are a sea throne and a tiny glass float.

 

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Can you tell this is another favorite of mine? I was limited in what I could bring to this display because it sits in full sun. Many of the gardens in the book were for indoors or for shade. In this chapter, I show you how to create a miniature garden folly (back, right) and how to age and weather a miniature brick patio.

In each chapter in the book, I also go into the plant choices for each theme, why I chose them and how you can adapt this way of using the plants to help get your theme across to the viewer. Considering all the parts, plants and pieces for your theme not only raises the bar on the quality of miniature gardening that you can produce, it makes the thrill-of-the-hunt much more interesting and satisfying. After sifting through all the projects in the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, you will have a good idea of how to get the same results.

Get your autographed copy of the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book here.

Find it at a better price if you don’t need it autographed here up on Amazon (affiliate link.)

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Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

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Miniature Garden Therapy Mission: Spark Joy

Miniature Garden Therapy at the Old Soldier's Home

Operation Spark Joy has begun! Our first installation as The Miniature Garden Society at the Washington Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Washington, south of Seattle.

Miniature Garden Therapy Mission: Spark Joy

I love it when a plan comes together. Now, to see if it works!

After talking to Linda for a minute on that cold, gray day in the middle of the winter, it felt like I was talking to an old friend. She was asking if I knew of a speaker that could come and talk at their big workshop day that is held every spring for the the Hill and Dale Garden Club. Who knew that that would turn into a project that, quite possibly, can “spark joy?”

I’ve always wanted to find out if a miniature garden can really deliver some garden therapy to non-miniature-gardeners if it was put in the right spot. If a full-size garden can be therapeutic for everyone, why not a tiny one too? And now that the Miniature Garden Society is established, we can make time to reach out into the community, to see what we can do with our hobby to share the joy of gardening in miniature.

So, with the help of Linda and the ladies at the Hill and Dale Garden Club, we installed a larger miniature garden in the courtyard at the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Washington. Here’s what happened:

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

The Hill and Dale Garden Club did the hard part: the lugging in of the trough and the potting soil. The tub is 6′ x 2′ x 2′ and it’s filled more than half-way up with chunks of styrofoam. The styrofoam won’t make it easy to move but it saves a boatload of time, money and energy not having to fill it all up with soil.

Find out more about the right potting soil to use for your miniature garden here.

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

After the mountain was in place, we dug in. I’ll be putting the instructions on this easy-mountain-install in the Miniature Garden Society!

See the MiniatureGardenSociety.org website here.

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

Steve made the silo from a beer can and straws! This side will begin to look more like farmers fields when the different thymes start to grow in.

See our different Thymes here. 

 

I made the little cinderblock fence from our tiny cinderblocks and a couple of skewers. The silo and the fence were glued on to a board which was hidden with micro gravel.

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

When Linda and the ladies installed it, they made sure it was a good height for most wheelchair-users. That need triggered the idea for some sort of backdrop for their point of view, so we built up a hill with a solid chunk of Irish Moss from my full-sized garden that needed a good home. It’ll be a great place for a picnic!

See the gray flagstone sheet here.

See the Mini Patio Mix Kit here. 

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

Linda brought some full-sized Hen and Chicks so we used them as Agave-type plants to add some great texture to the miniature garden bed.

See our full-sun plants here.

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

Layers and textures, oh my! Here’s what we planted in the trough. It’s going to get full-sun all summer, and it’s protected in a courtyard to it should be a great growing environment for the plants.

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

The patio was a bit rushed at the very end, but I don’t think anyone else noticed. The bright green chair matched the Golden Torch Barberry in the upper-left corner.

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

The Mercedes Dwarf Birch, the Goldfinch Fir and a few of the succulents were donated by Bob Fincham and Linda Maida.

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

Dueling Photographers. That’s Linda taking a photo of the finished garden. Steve said everyone was just beaming with smiles as they slowly realized what was happening. For someone who didn’t know what was going on, it must have looked strange. Lol!

 

Miniature Garden Therapy for the Old Soldier's Home

That’s Thomas, he’s a master gardener so we left it in his good hands.

 

A few of the residents gathered to watch the garden go together and some of the staff watched too. It was fun to see them respond as the garden came together. Between us, the garden club, the residents and the staff, it sounded like everyone wanted to “look after the garden” so I imagine it will be well-taken care of! We’re looking forward to going back in a couple/few weeks to see how it’s growing – and to see if it sparked joy.

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Want to know more about our Miniature Garden Society? See that here.

Here’s an UPDATE! We visited the OSH to decorate the garden for the Fourth. See it here.

 

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center!

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How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Our first display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. A good tip: pick a pot with a lip on it so you have something to grip if you have to move it or pick it up (not like most of the pots above!)

How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

From the Archives, 2004: This pot is 17″ high and 14″ wide and big enough to put a path through the middle of it.

Planting a miniature garden in a big container creates room for more fun, more plants and more ideas. You can visually break up your design into a couple of smaller garden rooms within that one big pot, with paths leading to and fro. You can make a huge yard with several focal points happening around the container, or have enough room for a small house or building, a particular favorite of fairy gardeners. We talk about the different kinds of pots that can be used miniature gardening in our new book Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, but here are a few more tips on how to save some time and money – and your back – when working with very large pots or containers.

What’s Deep? What’s the Minimum?

What do we consider a deep pot for miniature gardening? Any pot that is deeper than 14″, in my opinion. We recommend at least 8″ of soil so the miniature garden can stay together for a couple/few years before needing repotting. This allows the trees and plants to grow and weave together and you still get that aged-garden-look after a couple of years that is very enchanting.

Ad-FallPlanting - 1

How to Keep Your Big Pot and Plant It Too

Another popular question when planning a miniature garden in a huge pot is, “Should I put something in the bottom before I start planting?”  Yes, and there are several reasons why you can go ahead fill that big container up with some sort of filler, leaving 8″ to 10″ from the top of the pot, before you add regular potting soil that will make you, and the plants, happier in the long run.

The miniature garden plants that we recommend to use are usually small to start with, so they don’t need a lot of soil to get growing. I find some types of plants tend to falter when planted in a huge container full of soil, as most plants prefer a smaller root environment when they are young. We call it “swimming in soil,” when the water wicks away from the plant’s roots to the bottom of the pot where gravity pulls it, and the moisture doesn’t stay around the roots where it is needed. Then the roots dry out, the plant starts to stress and falter. By using filler, it shortens the depth of the soil, prevents the water from wicking, the soil stays damp longer and the roots stay happy.

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Planting miniature gardens in large pots leave more room for creativity.

Fill ‘Er Up

Another reason to use filler on the bottom of the pot is huge pots can get really heavy. The spot you choose may be perfect for that garden this summer and into next summer but you may want to eventually move it. The two most popular ways to fill up your pots are:

Styrofoam peanuts or popcorn: Most packing peanuts are biodegradable now so put them in a plastic shopping bag, tie the bag shut and place the bag upside-down in the pot so water doesn’t get inside and stagnate. If you are using a really big pot, use several of bags-full and fill the pot up to about 10” to 12” from the top.

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

Upside-down poly pots make a great filler. Smush them to fit them in.

Upside-down black plastic nursery pots: Start with big 1 or 2 gallon pots in the center

Miniature Garden Gift Ideas from Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center!

Join us! We’re digging deeper! 

of the bottom of the pot and work in the upside-down 4” pots, squishing them so they fill in as much space as possible. You can cut a couple of pieces of cardboard and layer it on top of the upside-down pots to create the “bottom” of the pot, or you can just start filling up the pot with soil.

We’ve heard of people using upside soda-cans and they would work only if they are rinsed out really, really well. Otherwise the sugar in the soda would draw unwanted pests to your container.

Note that this is for miniature gardening with small plants. Bigger plants mean more roots. If you are creating mixed containers of regular perennials and nursery plants (aka trees and shrubs) you may want to use potting soil all through your container to leave plenty or room for root growth.

SOIL CONCERNS: Use organic potting soil with no added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers. Your miniature garden plants don’t need it and the added fertilizer will burn the roots of the miniature and dwarf conifers.

POTTING SOIL VS. TOPSOIL: Potting soil has all the necessary nutrients and micro-organisms for a contained environment. If you look closely, you’ll see rich, dark organic matter, bits of sand and perlite or vermiculite mixed in to keep the potting soil from becoming a big lump of dirt over time.

Topsoil is plain soil, without the added ingredients for pots and containers. It is used to amend the soil in garden beds where any water drains naturally. The plant’s roots have all the room they want and can find nutrients on their own.

Part 2 is here. This was getting too long and I have more tips and techniques to share here.

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It’s a Mini Spring Round-Up in the Miniature Garden!

MiniatureGarden.com it's where craft and garden meet!

We’ve got our new website, a hub for all our work and research on Gardening in Miniature is now at MiniatureGarden.com!

It’s a Mini Spring Round-Up in the Miniature Garden!

Happy, happy Spring! You just can’t beat the first smell of spring in the air, can you? Here in Seattle, one day it’s sunny and warm, the next day is cold and rainy. Needless to say, it’s that time of year when I schedule my work around the weather. Hey, if you can’t beat Ma Nature, join her! Here are some more tips on how to get started with Spring, and without.

On the Spring To-Do List

We’re patiently waiting for it to stop raining so the soil can dry out so we can get busy. If you work the soil when it is wet you’ll damage the microcosms and ruin your good soil so hang-tight if you’re having the same weather that we are here in Seattle. Here’s a quick list of the 8 Spring To-Dos in the Miniature Garden.

 

Still Waiting for Spring?

Here is a blog post to get you started despite the weather. Miniature Gardeners don’t need a reason or a season to start gardening! Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden.

Celebrating Easter?

And here is an Easter garden that was part of our “Year in the Miniature Garden” Series a couple of years ago. See it here.

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Faith, Hope and Pixie Dust: Miniature Gardening with Disney

faithhope

Faith, Hope and Pixie Dust: Miniature Gardening with Disney

[Updated from November, 2010.] A trip to the toy store the other day to lurk for miniature garden ideas instigated a trip to the video store to rent the latest fairy movie from Disney, Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue. It’s all in a day’s work here at America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center.

You bet I watched it  – and no, I don’t have children, nor do I have a child in my life that I could borrow for the excuse to watch it. I just did.

Oh, you’re doing it again, aren’t you? You’re laughing at me!

Now this is the kind of invaluable market research that is part of my job as leader of the hobby, researcher of everything mini garden and owner of the world’s only Miniature Garden Center dedicated to gardening in miniature. It’s this is the level of sacrifice

;o)

Nah, really, I just wanted to see if there were any cute ideas I can share and, never-to-be-disappointed-by-Disney, there were more than a few new ideas that you can put in your bag of tricks the next time the kids or grand kids want to get miniature gardening.

Miniature Fairy Garden

Get the kid’s imaginations working with some hands-on fairy fun and magic in the miniature garden.

Fairy Origins and Lore via Disney

– Each time a baby laughs for the very first time, a fairy is born. This is called their Arrival Day, similar to our Birthdays. Wait. Did I hear a giggle?

Disney latest line of fairy toys can easily be used in the miniature garden.

Disney latest line of fairy toys can easily be used in the miniature garden.

– Fairies are from Pixie Hollow and each fairy has a different purpose. They come to the “mainland” to help with the change of the seasons by coloring the flowers in the spring, they help pollinate and tend to the gardens and crops in the summertime, paint the leaves in the fall and make icicles and snowflakes in the winter. Just place what they do before the word fairy and you can create any character for your own purpose. Examples include, “Wind Fairy, Pumpkin Fairy, Dog Fairy, Spruce Fairy, etc.

– Fairies are about 5” tall and are dressed in anything natural that usually illustrate their purpose. Flower fairies wear petals and leaves, the pumpkin fairies wear the pumpkin and the wind fairies… huh? Wait. Are they naked? Lol!

– The fairies help to put the hibernating animals to sleep in the fall or to wake them up in the spring. I wish they could do that for me when I can’t sleep at night. Oh, and they also take care of wounded animals everywhere.

– They paint the stripes on bumblebees and design the patterns on butterflies. Awesome.

– They use fireflies as flashlights. When you see a firefly, it is really fairy flying around.

– Male fairies are called Sparrowmen. They look like elves with wings and acorn hats. I love that name!

A pretty fairy in the mini garden.

A pretty fairy in the mini garden.

Points of Attraction

– Fairies love shiny objects just like me. Place a small mirror or something shiny in the garden to attract them – or me. Lol!

– They sometime use buttons as stepping-stones to lead the fairies to your fairy house. If you do use buttons, please don’t relay on your fairy to keep them in place. Instead, use our Mini Patio Mix Kit. It’s easy and fun to use.

– Create a wee leaf-plate for the “fairy offering” to help lure them into your garden. Fairies eat fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and bread. Place a wee snack as an offering and see if they take you up on it.

– Fairies smell slightly like cinnamon. If you catch a whiff, there is a fairy nearby but not the fairies are still not edible.

– They use mint leaves as a toothbrush and pine needle combs. They use cotton balls as pillows and leaves as blankets. Fairies prefer the natural house and lean-to’s so they can go inside and see out the windows.

If you are NOT going to see the movie, here’s a synopsis:

The mAd-Fairyovie was very fun in typical Disney fashion. The only characters are the Dad, the daughter and the fairies. The Dad is very pre-occupied with his work collecting, studying and mounting bugs and butterflies, which is completely horrific for a fairy to see! The daughter catches a fairy by accident (Tinkerbell) and they bond. Dad eventually finds out, catches a fairy and rushes to expose his find to the world. Just before it is too late, he is swayed when he sees his daughter flying with the fairies, pleading for the release of her friend. The fairies befriend the Dad and, with a heavy dose of pixie dust, make him fly too. I love the end where the Dad, daughter and all the fairies are all hanging out spending quality time together.

Checkout your local toy store for a number of different fairy figures to use in the miniature garden that are child-safe, washable and durable. Introduce fun and magic to the children while you still can.

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See more:
Whimsical Fairy Swing DIY
About Miniature Fairy Garden Moss
Declutter Your Fairy Garden 

Checkout Disney’s wonderfully Interactive Pixie Hollow Website here.

Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

NEW LOW PRICE!! Click the Picture to read the intro! An expert view on fairy gardening and how to make them look authentic in your miniature garden.

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