Posts Tagged Moving a garden

How to Swim in Soil

An in-ground miniature garden just needs a mulch of compost each spring to keep the soil nutrient-rich. Save your fertilizers for your annuals and vegetables. The bee house is about 1 inch tall.

How to Swim in Soil

I’m a self-taught gardener. I don’t like unnecessarily complicated things. When any topic gets too scientific or complex, my eyes glaze over and I start to think about lunch. With our already hectic lives, some think we must know about the microcosms and ratios in our potting soil or garden soil in order to be a gardener, but – don’t tell anyone – I don’t. I haven’t. Because I don’t need to.

Now keep in mind, I’m a gardener. I’m not a grower. I don’t have a greenhouse. I don’t have any sort of grow-your-own set-up here at my backyard nursery. I have tried it but growing my own stock but it just isn’t where my passion is. I do grow my own veggies and annuals from seed for my full-sized gardening adventures, but that’s where it stops. However, if you are getting into growing seriously, you will want to focus on the content of your soil.

There’s an old saying that if you have $1 to spend on your garden, spend 90 cents on soil, and 10 cents on plants.

And I’ve written about soil before, it’s the first chapter in our popular Miniature Gardening 101 Series: The Dirt on the Soil. And, I talk about it in here, How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot.

But what about all the different kinds of potting soil out there? What’s the diff? What do we use for miniature gardening? What will work best? Oh, and how much? Grab a cuppa, and let’s get down to the roots of the situation, shall we?

“If you are making mistakes it means you are out there doing something.”

For Pots and Containers

For all containers, use organic potting soil. Note that a lot of companies have hooked their wagons to the “organic” trend and, well, soil IS already organic, so isn’t that redundant? Not in this day and age, unfortunately. By organic, I mean without any added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers.

A great example is Miracle-Gro soil. It’s everywhere now and everyone sells it only because they have the money for marketing it. (It’s made by Scott’s. Monsanto owns Scott’s. Icky.) You’ll find somewhere on that bag of soil it will say ‘organic.’ But those added fertilizers and water-retaining polymers is the WORST soil you can use for your miniature garden or fairy garden simply because of the extra “stuff” in the soil. The extra fertilizers burn the roots of our plants and trees and those polymers don’t let the soil dry out often enough, then the roots can’t breathe – with that lovely combo, our plants that we recommend for the miniature gardening die.

What I love to see on the potting soil bag is that it’s from a local company. If the garden center that you frequent are worth their salt, they’ll have a variety of soil products from companies in your area or thereabouts. If you don’t see it on the store shelf, ask for it. The request will get back to the manager/buyer and they’ll know customers are looking for a local choice.

Soil for miniature gardening or fairy gardening

How Much Soil Do I Need for My Miniature Garden Container?

Because some of our plants are really tiny, it is miniature gardening after all; you might be tempted to put the tiny plants in a big pot to let them grow in. This is called “swimming in soil” and the reason this will not work is that the water will not stay around the root ball where it is needed because there is too much soil in the pot. The water wicks to the bottom of the container, away from the plant’s roots and all is futile. A basic rule of thumb is any new plants need to transplant in pots that are 2” to 5” bigger or wider. If you’re planting a group of plants, take the total of all the pots combined.

This chart was taken from my Gardening in Miniature book that has all the garden basics you need to get started in the miniature garden hobby.

Soil chart for container gardening

From the bestselling Gardening in Miniature book.

Note that 1 cubic foot bag of soil or compost is about the size of regular pillow. There are about 25 quarts in 1 cubic foot. So, using the chart above, a pot that is 8 to 11 inches wide, will take almost half a bag, or half a cubic foot, to fill it up. Note that the depth of the container isn’t accounted for in this chart but, it should say “width and depth” of pot. But here’s an awesome soil calculator for you to bookmark here.

In-ground miniature gardening

Instead of removing the grass, we planted on top of it mainly because we found clay in all our garden beds. But I always found that by the time I cleared the patch of lawn, I didn’t have the energy to do any gardening so I was all for this easy way to prep a garden bed!

For In-ground Miniature Gardens

Use compost. That’s it. Soil is compost but will have many more nutrients in it than bagged topsoil. Just spread the compost on top of your soil each spring, and you are done!

If you are just starting an in-ground garden bed of any type, try our type of lasagna gardening. Lasagna gardening is really ‘composting in place’ but that means that you have to pay attention to the ratios, layers, timing and materials… (Oh gee, what’s for lunch?? :o)

BUT what Steve and I did with our new garden beds when we moved to our house in 2010 was incredibly easy and worked like a charm. We laid a long piece of rope down to outline the edges of the new garden bed. We covered the grass with heavy cardboard, piled as much compost on top as we could on top, cut in the edge of the garden bed and installed the border. Then planted the garden in the compost. Done.

We top it up each spring as much as we can. Now the garden bed has settled down to ground level but it works better for the miniature garden scene than a mound – the paths and patios stay level and the watering doesn’t mess everything up.

Got questions, compliments, concerns or complaints? Leave them below.

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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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Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

It’s a brand new, totally focused website on everything gardening in miniature with all the bells and whistles!**

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you would have heard about our Miniature Garden Society member’s only website opening up a few months ago. Well, truth be told, it did get lots of kudos, oohs and ahhs, but it couldn’t add any community, forums or post-ability to make it just that more fun. BUT, alas! Have no fear because your miniature gardener is here!

Welcome to the NEW Miniature Garden Society website! It’s all that and more. Now that we have some roots and branches to the site, it’s time to get it really growing. Personally, I can’t wait because it’s a place to share all our ideas and information that didn’t fit into this book – nor did it fit into this book either. Lol!

Yup! Can’t tell you any more – need to get back to the new site! Learn more about it here. 

**May contain fairies. :o)

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

Miniature Farm Garden

A year and half later, our miniature farm garden is doing well. This big tub had a large crack in the bottom so we didn’t have to punch drainage holes in it.

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

Miniature Farm Garden

The Miniature Farm Garden om early 2012, freshly planted and decked out for the show. See more images in our new book, Gardening in Miniature. (Click to enlarge, use the back button to come back.)

Planting a miniature garden in a big pot is more than just filling up the pot with soil, shoving a couple of herb-starts in it, plunking down a house and sprinkling the accessories around.

The real joy behind miniature gardening is the fact that you can garden with real trees, shrubs and bedding plants. When gardening in oversized pots and containers, you have the space to bring more “garden” to your project, learn different techniques and watch the plants and trees grow in and weave themselves together. I go further into depth in my new book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, about how to get more out of less by applying a few simple rules to your own plans and designs. So let us get get on to Part II with more tips, tricks and techniques on planting miniature gardens in large pots.

Before you Begin

– If it is a really big pot, make sure to have the pot in the right spot before you start building it. Put plastic or cardboard down to protect any surface to make the clean-up easier.

– Not all pots are perfect. Look for blemishes, scratches or kiln marks on the outer sides of the pot, and face the best side of the pot to the front, facing you, before you begin. (You don’t want to know how many times I’ve created a miniature garden, only to step back and see a big ding in the glaze on the side of the pot, front and center!)

– All outdoor pots or containers, including re-purposed containers, need a drainage hole. Period.

– Use a small piece of mesh screen or landscape cloth to cover the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot to keep the soil inside the pot from trickling out every time you water. Placing pottery shards over the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot is quite popular, but be sure to not cover the holes up completely, you still want the excess water to have a way out.

 – If you are planting tubs, wheelbarrows, pails or similar, drill or punch drainage holes in the bottom. If you don’t the rain will fill it up and you’ll have a miniature flood to clean up.

Miniature Garden Tree, Fernspray Gold Hinoki Cypress

If you are hard-core, like me, big containers give you a place to graduate your growing repertoire of plants and trees. This is one of my most favorite trees for miniature gardening, the Fernspray Hinoki Cypress, it’s about 7 to 8 years old in this picture. (Click to enlarge, use the back button to come back here.)

Water Control

– If you live in a condo/apartment balcony you may want to have a system to corral the excess water that will drain out of the bottom of the pot and onto the balconies below yours. Saucers are ideal and pots can be found with a matching one but it may take some diligence to find one – but it’s worth it. Otherwise your local garden center will have clear plastic ones of all different sizes that aren’t too noticeable.

 – Water draining from the bottom of the pot will eventually stain any surface. If you have a wood deck or concrete surface – or any surface for that matter – prevent the staining by putting the pot up on ‘pot feet.’ Then tuck a small saucer underneath the pot to corral any excess water. The feet help keep the drainage holes from clogging too.

Miniature Garden Trees

The tree on the left is an Intermediate Sawara Cypress. It’s a big faster-growing than we usually prefer, but look how it grows into a tall bush. We can keep it trimmed from this point too. That other tree on the right, behind it, is a Sky Pencil Holly. Tiny Sedum cuttings in the tiny pot and tiny “ferns” are Brass Buttons. See our online store for more info.

Tips for Moving Large Pots

– (In case you missed this handy tip in the last post.) If you are going to move it, choose a pot with an edge, or lip on it so you can get a grip on it. Moving big pots without a lip is like moving a big mattress – there’s nothing to hold onto. It makes all the difference in the world if you can get a handle on it.

– We love using the Pot Lifter to help us get our larger gardens from show to show, and to shuffle around our container gardens when we need to. You’ll need a buddy. See more here  and it’s perfect for pots without a lip.

– Wear garden rubber-coated gloves. It not only protects your hands from accidental nicks and cuts, it improves your grip on the pot, allowing you to focus on the task at hand instead of worrying that you are going to drop it.

– Put your large miniature garden on wheels! Use small furniture dolly – available at your local hardware store for less than $10. You can roll it wherever you like. **Important: Use small pieces of rock, wood or something to brace or “chock” the wheels when you have it in place so it doesn’t roll by accident. If it’s a pretty hefty container full of soil and plants, you want to control where it wheels. You can fit a saucer underneath the dolly.

– If you do need to move it, remember to bend at the knees and get under the weight to lift it up.

Trust Your Gut

My nickname for my husband Steve is Hercules. When we first started to learn to move things together, he prompted me to lift a heavy and awkward display piece and, without thinking, I did. Big mistake. My back did not participate AND it was just before a major show too. Not fun. Trust your gut and test the weight first, if you know it’s too heavy for you, don’t even try it at all and ask for help. Thankfully, I find most men love to move heavy things for some reason.

If you are bringing your miniature gardens to shows and / or creating displays, always take into consideration during the planning stage, how you will move the displays and gardens in and out of your house or studio and into the show-building. It’s one thing to be able to create big, it’s another to move it. 

Do you have any questions about planting in large containers? Do you have any tips you would like to share? Leave it in the comments below!

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter published almost monthly. Join us, and thousands of other miniature gardeners, here.

Oh, and here’s Part 1 if you missed it.

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Winterizing your Miniature or Fairy Gardens

Blue & White Miniature Garden

Take your accessories in before Old Man Winter comes a’knockin’ ! They will last longer and won’t get damaged by the extreme weather.


Winterizing Your Miniature Garden or Fairy Gardens

The rains finally came back to Seattle a couple of weeks ago after a record dry spell of over 90 days. Thankfully, our in-ground miniature garden was already established in the garden bed, we (re)planted it when we moved in June of 2011 so there was minimal watering to do over the drought. We tucked the garden into a cool-sun spot too, so it’s shaded by a row of Rhododendrons to shield it from the hot afternoon sun.

{ By “established” we mean that the roots of the plants are able to seek out and find water and nutrients by itself.  We help them in the dry months by watering them otherwise, that established plant should take care of itself.  Easy gardening! }

So, it’s time to share some fall winterizing tips for your miniature in-ground garden. Are your gardens in a container? Here’s a blog post on winterizing your containers.

Our old Miniature Garden

Our old Miniature Garden that we moved to the new house in 2011. See the next picture of it today.

–       Remove your accessories before it snows or freezes. Store your miniature or fairy garden accessories safely inside over the winter, you’ll get more out of them. Most accessories these days are resin which technically doesn’t freeze but the wear and tear from the elements can take its toll on the them. Keep them safe inside where you can clean them over the winter. Spray them with UV protectant to keep the colors at their best and you’ll be ready for next spring. Find the UV spray at your local hardware store.

–       Leaf mulching is better for your full-sized garden, or for anywhere there is bare soil – not ground covers, a.k.a. “miniature garden bedding plants.” The mulch/leaves will smother the low-growing foliage, not allow air and light through, and the tiny plants will get pale and leggy.

AdS-EtsySet–       Remove any fallen leaves. After the autumn rains come, the leaves will sit and rot – and rot anything underneath it. Comb them out of your miniature and dwarf trees too.

–       Check the soil – is it compacted? Roots need air too. Carefully work around – and close to the trunk of your trees and plants with a strong stick or rod, and loosen the soil just a little bit. You are only aerating the soil, not lifting or moving it, so a little poking throughout the rootball should not harm the plant. (Unless it’s a really delicate plant but, if it is, you know what it needs.)

–       Divide any perennials that need it. (Perennials are the plants that go dormant and grow back year after year. Annuals only live for one season.)

  • The groundcover perennials that we use for miniature gardening need diving every couple of years to keep looking their best.
  • Some perennials clump and some spread slowly. If your plant has created another “clump,” or if the plant has spread out to create another smaller root system, you can cut it off from the mother plant and transplant it to another part of the garden.
  • More on how to know if your perennial needs dividing:
    • Divide after the year that the plant looks really good.
    • When there is a gap in the middle of the plant.
    • When you start to see smaller leaves in the center of the plant.
    • When you start to see yellowing leaves in the center.
    • When the plant has no more room left to grow.
An in ground Miniature Garden

This picture was taken in early September, you can see by the brown grass and yellow leaves on the Rhododendron, it was a really dry summer. Our established miniature garden needed a little help with the watering which we did at night, watering deeply and infrequently, to help train the roots to look for their own water source.

–       Best time of year for dividing plants: Spring and fall are the ideal times – with the fall being the best. The new plant can take its time getting established over the winter and be ready to grow in next spring.

–       Be ruthless about your invaders. Some plants are very aggressive and, as anyone tempted by the Shop Two Green Thumbslook of a darling miniature plant, we sometimes plant aggressive plants in the ground unknowingly. NOW is the time to cut them short, cut them off and cut them back. Spare no runner, no clump. Just keep a small part of the plant and that will multiply two-fold next spring because it is established in your bed. I know, I know, but you have to – you’ll thank me next spring when your garden is not invaded by these things. And hey, I speak from experience.

  • Some aggressive miniature garden plants are:
    • Fairy Vine, Muelenbeckia complexa and the Tricolor variety
    • In some areas: Baby Tears, Soleirolia soleirolii, both varieties
    • Violets
    • Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans
    • Brass Buttons, Leptinella squalida
Blue Bench in the Miniature Garden

See the heart-shaped leaves? There is one of them in front, off to the left. Those are violets. Every once in a while, I have a weak moment and leave them be – only to be overrun with them by the end of the summer. I’m tearing them out ruthlessly now, by next spring they should be at a manageable level to deal with – they self-sow way too much and look very weedy.

–       Water until it freezes. There’s a difference between “freeze-dried” and “frozen.” If your area has been in a drought, keep watering. The roots want to stay damp until they freeze for the winter. Do water in the middle of winter if it has been dry if you have to. (Smile and wave hello if the neighbor sees you out the yard in the middle of winter watering your garden!)

–       Clean out your conifer dieback. All trees and shrubs exfoliate somehow. The miniature and dwarf conifers are no exception; they just do it differently. Slough off all the dead foliage and clean it out from the middle of the plants and away from the base of the plant to let light and air into the center of the plant. A kitchen fork makes the perfect rake for the miniature garden.

Conifer dieback in a Golden Sprite Hinoki Cypress

Conifer dieback in a Golden Sprite Hinoki Cypress. Part the branches of your miniature or dwarf conifer to see if there is any dead foliage that needs cleaning out.

–       Use boughs to insulate. Cover the garden with evergreen boughs – it is nature’s insulation. Wait until the weather is cold enough though, you don’t want it to rot – only to protect. And be sure to take them off promptly in the spring for the same reason. This works for in ground and containers.

–      Keep the snow on it. When it does snow, keep the snow on the garden. Resist the urge to unbury it. The snow will insulate the plants from the cold air and drastic dips in temperature.

Note that this is a blanket advice and you can always look up the care of individual plants on the Internet. In fact, the Internet has become so huge that you can literally type in your question and get an answer – to just about anything.

Got a tip? Leave it below for our Fellow MGs. We all have different ways of doing things.

Visit our store to see all the possibilities of the miniature and dwarf trees and shurbs, hardiness information is listed for your convenience.

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Fairy Gardening with Two Green

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Sharing Your Miniature Garden Hobby


This miniature garden was created in an empty pond at our last house.

This miniature garden was created in an empty pond at our last house. It was in the backyard so it was only visited by friends and family. We had more fun with our mini gardens in the front of the house, next to the sidewalk for all to see and visit.

Sharing Your Miniature Garden HobbyAd-NewWaystoGrow

You’ll hear the giggles first, followed by and the oohs and aahs. It was best to stop everything and run to the window because you never know how long they will stay and visit. Peeking out from behind the curtains was the best way because if they saw you, they would get self-conscious and walk away. It was so cute to see – the emotions were so genuine!

I’m not talking about fairies, I’m talking about the people walking by my garden. Lol!

We’ve planted several miniature gardens in-ground over the years but our most successful were the gardens that were right next to the sidewalk, or on the parking strip, where they could be seen by passers-by. Perhaps it was the simple fact that the garden was on display for all to see that made us keep them looking their best at all times, but ultimately, it was really because of that ol’ garden rule, “right plant, right place.”

Miniature gardens planted in-ground are the are the easiest to maintain because you can get the right plant for the right place and, after a year of care and nurturing, the maintenance becomes minimal save for pulling the odd weed or watering during the dry months. Here are some considerations that we’ve learned by trial and error to ensure your success if you’re thinking of creating a miniature garden beside the sidewalk for all to enjoy.

An Inground Miniature Garden with Buddha

The inground miniature garden started getting the attention of the neighbor’s dog while the neighbor stood and watched. (!) Thankfully, we moved from West Seattle within the month and took almost every plant with us. That’s Elfin Thyme on the right, trimmed into a wee hedge lining the pathway.

Dogs and their Business

When any type of garden is planted next to the front sidewalk it becomes a target for male dogs. We know that they will “raise their leg” and urinate on just about anything that doesn’t move and our miniature gardens are no exception. My #1 solution is to speak to the owner of the dog when you see it happening – and remember you ‘get more flies with honey:’ be nice, engage the person first, and then politely ask if they could be so kind as to curb their dog and have the dog go somewhere else. Thank them too. It works.

And sometimes this method isn’t very effective, or you may have caught the dog owner having a bad day, so the #2 solution for keeping dogs out your garden: cayenne pepper. The dog should be able to smell it before putting his whole snout in it but if he doesn’t catch on quickly, the dog will certainly remember the cayenne pepper and never come near your garden again. I’ve read of mixtures of powdered mustard with dried red peppers, orange oil and coffee grounds or cayenne pepper with dried red peppers, etc. Think spicy!


Dirt vs. Soil

Dirt is that gray stuff that’s in the cracks in the sidewalk. It’s lifeless and gritty.

Soil should look like bits of compost, bark and organic matter – and it should smell really organic when it’s damp. (I love that smell!) When you take a handful of soil and squish it, it should stay in a loose ball.

Start with great soil, and your plants will love you for it. The best resource for judging and amending the soil is your local garden center. Take a sample in a baggy for them to see and they’ll tell you what to do. If you are not near a garden center, hunt down your neighbor with the big garden – and ask them. Gardeners love to share their knowledge.

Miniature Garden on a parking strip - the before shot.

The ugly parking strip – the before shot.

Miniature Garden on a parking strip - the after shot.

A Wizard of Oz themed Miniature Garden. It’s 20 feet long and 6 feet wide.

Miniature Garden EbookParking Strip to Miniature Garden Paradise

If you are taking over a well-worn parking strip where dogs have done their business over and over again, after picking up the obvious, you may want to “wash” the soil. This means to leach the acid (urine) from the soil by placing a sprinkler on low, soaking the soil, and keep it on there for a few hours. Or you can cordon off the area for the winter and let nature’s rainfall leach the soil for you and start fresh in the spring. Either way, when you feel that’s been enough leaching or washing, top off the bed with a load of compost and don’t plant any edibles there for the first year to be sure.

Caveat: some municipal governments have rules against planting parking strips. Sometimes it’s an easement issue and the city owns that property. Sometimes it’s a safety issue if you are on a corner – you may need to plant low-growing plants so people driving in cars can see the oncoming traffic. I’ve heard of a “play” issue too – where it was unlawful to have the kids playing so close to the street. Check out your local laws before investing too much time and energy into revamping your parking strip.

Our first miniature garden being re-assembled at the new house in 2010.

Our first miniature garden being re-assembled at the new house in 2010. We moved in June, so we transplanted as much as we could as fast as we could and paid close attention to the watering that summer. We didn’t lose a single tree. The “Lasagna Gardening” technique was a godsend with the clay soil that we found in our new garden beds.

Build It Up

When we bought our house in 2010 I didn’t check the garden soil. We have clay. Yuck. Thankfully, my friend and Personal Garden Coach, Christina Salwitz, suggested that we “build it up.” We outlined the new garden bed areas with garden borders, covered the area with a thick layer of cardboard and dumped a couple of truckloads of compost on the cardboard. Presto! We have new garden beds! It’s worked wonders. It’s call “Lasagna Gardening” if you want to do a search for the many different ways to do it.

Plant Now

Fall is one of the best times to plant inground because the trees and plants have the whole winter to adjust to its new home before the next growing season. The fall rains will help you keep the new plant watered and happy, it will go dormant with the winter temperatures and “wake up” already in place and ready to grow. See our new fall trees that just came in stock this week here.

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Miniature Gardening: Chats and Forums and Groups, Oh My!

Miniature Gardening: Chats and Forums and Groups, Oh My!

You can almost hear the glasses tinkling, the lively chatter in the background and the occasional burst of laughter. They chime in from all over the country, Canada and throughout the world. People asking each other how the weather is, what each other is drinking tonight and exchanging quick personal updates along with their hellos.

The banter is chummy and fun; you never know who’s going to comment on what you said, or what bad joke lies in wait…

About 10 minutes into the session, the purpose of the friendly gathering starts with a question. Suddenly, the chatter picks up, answers are flying and jokes are passed around and repeated to make sure they are spread far and wide.

“What was the question again? I missed it…,”

“I’m late, what’s the topic?”

“Hey, Helen, how’s the planking?”

“Hold on, I need more wine…”

A wide range of topics are shared and deliberated each week. Celebrities are brought in to host the discussions, an endless stream of discussions. More industry celebrities drop in to say hi, and stay for a question or two at the very least. Prizes are given away freely. The laughter and jokes carry on even after it ends.

And it all happens within one hour, on Twitter.

It’s called #GardenChat, and it’s an open chat just like a party, hosted on Monday nights between 9 and 10pm, Eastern Standard Time, on

Just by scrolling through the last couple of months of the event calendar, you can see the myriad of garden topics that Brenda Haas covers with the help of her loyal #GardenChat following. It’s an easy crowd to get into, and it’s even easier to join the discussion, ask questions and get answers and opinions from the people who actually garden in your area. And you never know who will drop by.

All kinds of gardening are discussed, garden art, moss gardening, garden designers, vertical gardening, tomatoes, P. Allen Smith, websites, roses, herbs, container gardening, new garden happenings, houseplants, organic gardening, vegetable gardening, drought tolerant gardening, open discussions, did I say garden designers yet? Links are exchanged and garden know-how is shared freely – it really is a terrifically fun resource for any gardener, anywhere.

And the big news: This coming Monday, December 12th, Yours Truly is hosting a #GardenChat! Really! It’ll be my first one. I will be answering any questions about miniature and fairy gardening. I plan on showering you with yummy eye candy, and filling up your head with lots of ideas for your miniature gardens. Come and join in the fun, it really is a hoot.

You don’t have to register, join or subscribe to anything – heck you don’t even have to read every tweet that rolls by either. Brenda captures each #GardenChat in a transcript after the show, and you can download it after the chat and explore the links and resources at your leisure.

Find out all about #GardenChat right here. If you are new to Twitter, don’t fret, sign up with, then some back to here and these instructions will walk you through how to connect to #GardenChat. Lurk if you need to at first, but at least say “Hi!” so we know you are there.

And here is a list of other Miniature and Fairy Garden Forums and Chats on the Internet that have opened up in the last few months. I think you can nose around into each group, to see if you like it, and then sign up if it feels right. (Some of them, like Dave’s Garden, have subscription fees.)

All Things Plants – Miniature Gardens Forum

Garden-Share – Fairy and Miniature Gardens

Dave’s Garden – Tiny Gardens Forum

Garden Web – Terrariums

Facebook – Miniature and Fairy Garden Chat

Facebook – Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

[If I missed any, please let me know. Only direct forums please, not threads within forums.]

There is a wealth of knowledge in the Interwebs, fun to be had, friends to meet and no reason to stop thinking about your miniature gardening either. See you on Monday December 12th on #GardenChat!

Miniature Garden Center

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