Posts Tagged gardening

Teaching Gardening In Miniature to the “Experts”

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Project Extension

The custom fairy house from the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book makes a miniature garden a fairy garden. Simple. But the difference starts with the garden.

 

Teaching Gardening In Miniature to the “Experts”

It’s happened again. The garden industry is taking the easy way out and has got our hobby all wrong – still. It’s no wonder I keep getting emails from these garden center customers asking me the usual questions because they couldn’t find an answer at their local garden center.

Take note of this article from Garden Center Magazine that doesn’t offer one photo of a true miniature garden, yet uses the term all throughout the article. It boasts using realistic miniatures but they are not shown. In that one plant photo in the article, I would recommend ONE of those plants – the rest plants, you are set up to fail.

It even references one “expert” who misleads newcomers consistently and constantly, and has been doing so for many years, chasing shiny bullets in the garden world. (Although she trolls my work relentlessly, I find it weird that she has yet to learn anything from my work. I wish she would read my book already. It’s getting ridiculous. Lol!)

 

 

And here’s another article from the same trade magazine. In this one, they again confuse the two different styles of gardening small and call fairy gardening, miniature gardening. Anyone can see that these are two different hobbies are unto themselves by the different levels of attention to detail, (we stay in scale,) attention the plants, (we actually design a real, living garden,) and the simple fact that a “real” miniature garden can last for years and years – and years and still stay in scale. NONE of the gardens shown in the article will last more than a season, in fact several of the gardens have plants that are not even compatible with each other – which is a perfect waste of time and money!

I’m making this point because it’s me that gets the phone calls if something doesn’t work out in a fairy garden. It’s me they text to find out why their fairy garden plant didn’t survive in the huge pot they put it in. And it’s me that takes the time to answer all the questions that are being overlooked or ignored by these so called “experts.”

Anyone can be an expert on the Internet – look to their own authenticity and their own work for validation on whether to trust them or not. Here is more insight in how to figure out if the “expert” you are following is really and expert or is in it to get sponsored and paid by companies to tote their wares.

How to Identify an Expert on the Internet

 

Your primers for the Miniature Garden hobby! Click to see more!

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Watering Tips to Help ANY Garden Beat the Heat

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

From the Archives: July 4th in the Miniature Garden

12 Watering Tips to Help ANY Garden Beat the Heat

Whoa Nelly! Heatwaves in June? I normally don’t talk about these dry topics until mid summer but here are some tips for keeping your miniature garden, and your full-sized garden, healthy during heat waves. You may be in an area with a water ban as well so it is even more critical to conserve whatever water you can. With proper techniques and knowing what to look for, you can get the most out of your watering even in extreme temperatures.

The following tips can work for containers or for the garden bed.

Watering Tips Help Your Garden Beat the Heat

Tiny firework packs are made of paper. We only put them out during parties and we take them in if it rains.

1. Test: Only water if needed. Stick your finger down into the soil at least one-full-inch deep. If it is still moist or damp, you can put off the watering for a day or so. If it’s dry, then water. For smaller pots, lift them up to feel how heavy, or light, they are. Dry soil will be much lighter than moist soil.

2. Frequency: Water your in-ground gardens deeply and infrequently. This will teach the roots of the plants to look for water on their own, and grow deeper into the soil. Watch your watering for your containers and water accordingly for the plants’ needs, not just because it is a new day.

3. Timing: Water in the early morning or at night after the sun has gone off your garden. I like watering in the evening because it cools down the garden and we can sit and enjoy the dampness – until the mosquitoes come out. The plants can recover during the cooler nighttime temperatures. “Spot-water,” meaning random acts of watering whenever it’s needed – but only if it’s an emergency and you see a plant crashing, or notice the soil it getting too dry. Otherwise, group your watering into one or two sessions a day to make it easy on yourself AND to make sure everything is getting a good drenching.

4. What to water: Water the soil, not the plant, and make sure the water gets down to the roots by waiting to see the water drain out the bottom of the pot. For in-ground gardens, get a trowel to check how-far-down your watering has penetrated for the best results.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green Thumbs.com5. What to use: Conserve water by hand watering. Sprinklers and sprays of water don’t direct the water straight to the plant’s roots where it is needed. Use a watering wand on the shower setting, and turn the tap on half-way to avoid strong, misdirected sprays of water that is just going to evaporate in the heat.

6. Corral the water: This might only work in your full-size garden: build a trough around the base of each plant to direct the water straight down to the roots. Fill up the trough with water and let it drain down a couple of times for some deep watering. This is a critical technique if your garden is planted on a hill, adjust the trough so it catches the water flowing down the hill.

7. Mulch: Mulching means to put a 2″ to 5″ layer of (usually) organic matter on top of the soil to help keep the moisture from evaporating. Organic mulch can be bark, wood chips, straw, cocoa beans, pine needles, shredded leaves, compost or cut grass. Inorganic mulch can be a variety of things like rubber chips, newspaper, or plastic. For your miniature garden, use a fine compost and keep the layer even throughout the garden bed. For pots, the fine compost works well too, but normally you wouldn’t have much bare soil in a container.

8. Cover the ground: Some of our most favorite miniature garden plants are ground covers fortunately. By covering the bare ground with plants and foliage, it will slow down the soil drying out.

9. Shade: Is your miniature garden in a container? Move it out of the full-sun into a bright shade spot, like the north or east side of the house. If the plants belong in full sun, they will be okay for a few days on the porch or under an awning until the heatwave passes. If you have new plantings in ground, use a big golf umbrella to shade them during the hottest hours. Weigh-down the handle of the umbrella so it won’t blow away!Your Miniature Garden Center

10. Plant more: It is possible to plant during a heat wave – but only the small plants that you can temporarily shelter from the sun with an umbrella until the heat wave ends. This fall, consider planting more of your full-size garden. Big trees bring shade and cooler air, and combined with big shrubs can create an naturally cool place in your garden. Planting in fall is one of the best times to get a garden established before the heat of next summer, and you’ll use less water next year, because the fall and winter rains will help them get established in their new home.

11. Give them air: Make sure you have air circulation all around each plant and/or each pot. If the plants are planted up-against each other, those spots that are touching will die-out and you’ll have a bare spot on your tree. It’s like having a band-aid on your finger for an extended period of time; the skin (the plant’s foliage,) that doesn’t get the light and air will start to suffer.

12: Signs of over-watering: If you see the top of the soil start to get slimy and a bit green, or if you are getting those tiny little bugs flying up every time you move the foliage or water, it a sign of over-watering. It’s often said that over-watering is worst than under-watering.

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12b: What is happening is the plant’s roots are not able to breathe and your creating a different environment – one almost terrarium-like – for your plants and they can’t handle that. If this is the case, stop watering. Wait for the top of the soil to dry out to damp, then get a fork to churn up the top of the soil. Poke a longer rod, at least 1/8″ in diameter, right down into the soil around each plant to help get air down into the soil. Make sure the drainage holes are allowed to drain. Check them to see if they are blocked and look into getting the pot up on pot-feet so it can drain better. If it’s sitting in a saucer, get rid of the saucer. Let the entire pot dry out to barely damp before you water again – go back to #1 and do that test before each and every watering until you and the miniature garden, are on the same page.

Water ban? When you turn on your shower, or your tap, and wait for the water to get hot, collect the water (called grey water) in a bucket to bring out and water the garden. Better yet, plug the drain and collect your all shower water – if you take baths, use the bath water. Make a scoop by cutting out the bottom of a square milk jug or detergent container. You can also put a bucket in every sink to collect the run off every time you turn on any tap. Consider using organic soaps although I’m not sure if it does matter because this is not recommended for edible crops. You can also use the water that you boil any vegetables in too. Note that some areas have certain regulations for grey water usage.

I hope this helps you get through this extreme weather. I know that there are a lot of variable that I may have not considered because most of my experience is based on gardening in the PNW. If you have a tip for watering your garden, full-size or in miniature and live in the southern states, please help us help others by sharing it below!

New to Miniature Gardening? Visit our main website here.

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Happy Father’s Day from Your Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Gardening with Two Green Thumbs & Janit Calvo

From the archives: A miniature father and baby sculpture. Tots adorbs!

 

 

Happy Father’s Day from Your Miniature Garden Center

See more Father’s Day Miniature Gardens here & here.

And remember that Fathers love miniature gardens too!

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Updating Mother’s Day in the Miniature Garden = A Photo Essay

Miniature Gardening with Mom & MiniatureGarden.com

I planted this miniature garden back in 2015 especially for the Mother’s Day chapter for my second book, Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book. You can see how well the plants do over the years from the photos below.  The tree is a true miniature Canada Hemlock, the Abbott’s Pygmy. The green florets in the garden bed are Dwarf London Pride.

Updating Mother’s Day in the Miniature Garden

Come with us for a visit to our Mother’s Day miniature garden that was made just for the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book for the Mother’s Day chapter in 2015. The Canada Hemlock tree is about 12 years old now, and looking as elegant as ever!

The two Mother’s Day projects are Miniature Flower Arranging and a Hanging Flower Vase. If you want to get even more enjoyment out of your miniature gardening – all year ’round – check out the Prop Shop book. It’ll have you dreaming bigger and digging deeper into the world’s best hobby.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

One of the two projects from the Mother’s Day chapter from the Prop Shop book is Miniature Flower Arranging. It’s a fun way to appreciate nature’s details while you’re hanging out with your miniature garden.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

The second project is the Hanging Flower Vase. A fun project with polymer clay that can open up your creativity to do more and more….

Miniature Gardening with Mom from the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book

This is the original photo from the Prop Shop book taken by photographer, Kate Baldwin, in 2015. You can see there hasn’t been a lot of change in the tree, the Abbott’s Pygmy Canada Hemlock grows only on inch per year. The bedding plant is Dwarf London Pride, that is now taking over the garden bed but it’s easy enough to pinch or trim back.

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Dig Deeper with our New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book! The second book on this new hobby that will keep your creative juices flowing!

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

I swapped out some of the accessories this year to give the garden a fresh look for Mother’s Day. I used the same flowers as I did in the photos above.

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

This selection of miniature flowers was taken from my own miniature and full-sized gardens. The flowers used in this blog are completely different than the list in the Prop Shop book, save for 3 of them. :O)

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

As with many of the projects in the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book, once you learn the techniques and get the insight, you will be able to expand on any of the projects and make them your very own. It’s not a “one-and-done” book by any means!

Miniature Gardening with Mom for Mother's Day, with Janit Calvo

The vase shown in the garden above is the same one in the lower-left corner. Adding bead and baubles to your hanging vases adds more to play with for you – and more interest and twinkle for the viewer!

Join our email list to get your FREE Mini Garden Gazette delivered to your inbox each Friday! We keep you up to date on your to-do list, inspire you with more ideas and you get ‘first dibs’ on anything new that we get in our Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center store!

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A Tax Guide for Gardeners

Gardeners pay their own taxes in their own way. Pictured above is one of our tax collectors. He is 1/2" tall.

Gardeners pay their own taxes in their own way. Pictured above is a miniature version one of the tax collectors. He is 1/2″ tall.

(This was first published in April 2009 in a “Garden for All” garden column for the West Seattle Herald. As with our tax code, it has been updated annually.)

A Tax Guide for Gardeners

This recent tax season spurred on yet another garden analogy from Yours Truly. I realized as gardeners we already pay taxes in our own way. Here’s what I have redefined for gardeners so far:

Gardener Tax Filing Status – Choose one only – and you know who you are.
1. New Gardener
2. Not-So-New Gardener That Only Knows What She Grows
3. Gardener That Really Knows Better But Does It Anyway

Plant Sales Tax – You know those plant sales where you overbuy, or buy on impulse? Ya, you know what I mean. There were some plants that were definitely on your list and you bought them for a particular spot – those usually go into the ground first. And there are the plants that you fell in love with at first sight, bought on impulse, and will “find a spot for it later.” It is some of this latter group that invariably perish and die, either through hesitation or unintentional neglect. These dead plants are the plant sales tax that we already pay gradually throughout the year.

Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

Garden Income Tax – You are very well acquainted with this one and you don’t even know it. This could easily be broken down into several sub-categories: Squirrel Tax, Mole Tax, Snail & Slug Tax, Aphid Tax… whatever you’d like to call it. We have to constantly give up portions our trees, plants, flowers and lawns all year ’round. I’ll never forget that day last summer when I saw Squirrel scamper away with my first fig from my new baby fig tree. – I was really taxed then! ;o)

Adjusted Garden Income – When you rescue that giant Zucchini from Squirrel, and just cut off the couple of bite marks at the end, the portion that is cut off should be subtracted from your Garden Income.

Shoulda-Used Tax – This tax could be called the “I Shoulda Tax” but the government would probably change the slang into something boring. The Shoulda-Used Taxes are the monetary equivalent of the chores that we put off because we like the looks and the rewards of a well-established perennial – only to discover a few weeks into the growing season that we should have divided it last spring. Ground cover Thymes are good examples, if they aren’t divided every few years, they get that gaping hole in the middle of the plant and start to look scraggly.

Other applications involve not thinning out your vegetable starts in time, and they get too crowded to grow and compromise the whole crop. Not digging and dividing your lily bulbs and they eventually flop over in the middle of the summer and smother your carpet of sedums. Or letting those weeds invade your miniature garden and destroying the look of your carefully planted ground covers. Now you can see how we pay our own garden taxes throughout the year.

Ignorance Tax
When you to adjust your gardening habits and garden bed location due to someone else’s ignorance and lack of caring. Multiply this total by howMiniature Gardening with Janit Calvo much work they create for you and divide by how many eyesores you have to contend with.

– Examples: When your neighbor plants trees that are not a good candidate for the spot and you have to watch a beautiful young Birch tree get hacked up because it’s growing into the power lines – and then look at it from your back deck forever. Or, his corkscrew willow is rapidly shading your well-established, 40 year old blueberries on your side of the fence. Ya, ignorance tax. It’s real.

Garden Plot-erty Tax – Debit the part of the garden we had to give up for anything non-garden, like a new extension on the house, a bigger deck, etc. And credit yourself when you add more garden bed space by taking away from your lawn.

Hopeless Investment Tax – Those wonderful flower bulbs we sink into the ground only to have Squirrel dig them up for his dinner. Or, in our Seattle climate, the bulbs that never come back because they rotted through our wet winters. Any extreme weather loss falls under this category. For any record-breaking extreme or natural disaster, multiply total by 100.

Organic Gardening Exemptions – Any type of organic gardening practices automatically get a tax exemption. Rain barrels, beehives, bat houses, bird houses, hedgerows, composting, rain-gardening etc. Bonus exemptions include boycotting any greedy corporation that is involved with any kind of environmentally-unconscious business practices.

Exercise Tax – After those long spring days in the garden when your body isn’t used to the bending and hauling… ugh! We should get a tax break on Epsom salt, bubble bath and wine.

Enter total on Schedule G, Form 8888abc, line 84.3d. ;o)

Got a garden tax to share? Leave it in the comments below. And someone call the IRS – maybe we can get a better tax break next year.

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Gardening in Miniature by Janit Calvo

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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.

 

The Miniature Garden Society - it's where craft and garden meet!

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…

Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop Book

Dig Deeper with our New Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book!

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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