Posts Tagged plants

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

Miniature Gardening at the Philadelphia Flower Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

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

So, Janit, What is the Diff?

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

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

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

Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings

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


Miniature Settings Exhibit Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

Miniature Garden Center

Miniature Garden Settings Plant List from Dr. K.

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

Miniature Settings Exhibit Plants Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Indoor miniature gardening

An indoor miniature garden with a Monteray cypress and a Sugar Vine.  This pot is about 12″ wide.


More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Don’t you just love this hobby? The seasons changing can only mean another miniature garden and now you can make one for the indoors! Do you want a wee beachy-garden scene to get you through the cold months? Or, create a miniature gratitude garden for Thanksgiving? Let’s recap what you need to know, and then follow with a few examples of the different indoor miniature gardens we’ve grown over the years.

Ten Golden Rules are from The Houseplant Expert, Dr. D. G. Hessayon, my favorite go-to book for indoor plants and a great reference for your bookshelf. Here’s a quick summary of his top 10 adapted for miniature gardening.AdS-LrgRec-Dog

1. Don’t drown them. Roots need air as well as water. Let the soil dry out until barely damp. Put your finger down into the soil about 1” deep to test and yes, your finger is still the best way.

2. Give them a rest. Plants need less water and feeding in the winter. Some plants may not look as good, or need cutting back, before the new growth signals their return. Be patient and follow the plant’s signals.

3. Accept the loss of “temporary” plants. Some plants are not meant to live more than a season or two. Some miniature gardeners treat outdoor plants as short-lived houseplants during the winter. The Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce, or the Pixie or Pixie Dust, is often used this way because they are true miniature Christmas trees.

4. Give them extra humidity. The average houseplant needs more humidity in the winter as the forced-air heat dries out the air quite quickly. By misting or grouping your houseplants around your miniature garden, you can maintain a better level of moisture in the air around the plants.

5. Add light. There are all kinds of plant-friendly light bulbs that can fit regular lamps, find them at your local hardware store or online. Instead of trying to position the miniature garden in the window, now you can put it anywhere as long as you have a lamp on it. Use a timer to turn it off and on for at least six hours a day, 8 to 12 is ideal. Shop lights come in a variety of sizes as well and many are available as a plug-in (as opposed to hard-wired.)

5a. Direct Sunlight. Some indoor plants enjoy a dose of direct sun but do so if you know for sure that the plant will enjoy it. Otherwise, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the direct sunlight to make it safe for all your plants. ALSO, watch that sunlight beaming into your windows in the spring and the fall. As the sun moves higher in the sky in springtime, and lower in the sky in the fall, the direction of the sunbeams will change inside your house too. All of a sudden you’ll may a sunbeam beating down on your miniature garden that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago. This is where that sheer curtain comes in handy again.

6. Treat trouble promptly. With Google at our fingertips, there is really no reason not to be able to identify a plant-problem quickly and easily. State the problem plainly; name the plant and search under Google Images to find it faster. For example, “brown spots on parlor palm leaves.” Search at least two or three sites to get a better perspective of the solution. Not everyone is an expert out on the Internet, most often the most simple and natural solution is best.

7. Know when to re-pot. When the plants start to look sickly after a couple of years, then it may be time to re-pot. Look for the roots growing out of the bottom drainage holes to know when.

8. Choose wisely. Right plant, right place. You can’t grow a sun-loving plant in a dark corner nor can you grow a shade-loving plant in front of a sunny, southern window.


Recommended Tools:

  • Water can with a long, narrow spout to get the water through to the bottom of the plants. Get used to how it pours before using indoors or you’ll make a big mess the first time.
  • Mister – but know which plants like more, which like less.
  • Saucers AND protective pads with plastic on one side, felt on the other. Don’t trust any pot or saucer on your good wood surfaces. Use an extra moisture-barrier-pad recommended for plants with a plastic backing to avoid wicking. I’ve seen cork mats, but I’m not sure if they wick moisture or not.
  • Organic fertilizer. Avoid chemical fertilizers of any kind, the plants just don’t care for it and it builds up in the soil.
  • Soft sponge for cleanup.
  • Old kitchen spoon for re-potting and fork for raking.
  • Scissors or small garden shears – or both.
  • indoor Potting Soil – Use potting soil without any extra fertilizers or moisture-retaining polymers. Look for an organic, indoor potting mix for a general-purpose soil that will be okay for most of your houseplants. Succulents, cacti and African Violets need more drainage material, like vermiculite or Perlite.

You will notice that there is not a lot of variety yet in the plants that are shown here. That is because I killed the rest of them. Yep. I tend to kill indoor plants a lot better than our outdoor plants. The plants shown here are some of the tougher plants I have found for gardening in miniature. For the most part, I’ve included the plant’s names, and the growing notes under each photo.

Indoor miniature tropical garden

A Parlor Palm and Norfolk Pine anchor the garden, filled in with miniature Aloe and Hawarthias as the understory. The Pine was left in its original poly pot to help keep the roots damper than the other plants. The lagoon-shaped pond adds to the theme. (“Janit Calvo’s Lagoon Pond” is now discontinued.) This pot is about 22″ in diameter.

Indoor miniature gardening

One of our all-time most popular plants, the English Variegated Boxwood stands alone to make a simple gratitude garden for a sunny spot. This pot is about 8″ wide.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

A baby Parlor Palm on the left and a Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood on the right. This miniature mediation gardens need regular water and bright light. This pot is about 8″ wide.

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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The tree in the back is the Variegated English Boxwood, to the right is Dwarf Mondo Grass, a small-leafed succulent with an elusive name ;o), in the foreground, two Kingsville Boxwood shrubs. Needs regular water with bright light. Sedum cuttings in the urns will last a few months before needing replacing. Large size or one-inch scale accessories. This pot is about 20″ across.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The same garden as above, but with medium size, half-inch scale accessories and gravel mulch in the garden beds. You can see how the smaller accessories are swimming in such a large pot, but also notice how big they make the whole garden appear.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A custom-made miniature garden planter from England. Elwood Cypresses on the each end, Dwarf Mondo Grass behind the urn, sedum cutting in the urn, a small boxwood shrub to the right of the bench and baby tears as the “ground cover.” (Get in touch with me if you want more info about this handmade planter.) This garden needs bright, indirect light and a very cautious watering schedule as this box has no drainage holes. This container is 21″ wide by 9″ deep.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A finished project from my book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World. Clockwise from the tall Elwood, to the left is a Sugar Vine (Cissus striata,) Baby Tears and a Variegated English Boxwood. Bright light with regular watering, the Sugar Vine will need cutting back every year to slow it down. This pot is about 12″ wide.

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Indoor miniature garden

A simple Fairy Vine and a handmade trellis is the perfect place for an daily empowering message. The “boulder” anchors the garden and makes it look established. This pot is about 7″ across.

Indoor miniature mediation gardening

Our Complete Indoor / Outdoor Miniature Garden Kit has our three most-durable indoor plants, from left to right: the Dwarf Mondo Grass, Variegated English Boxwood and Baby Tears. The Kit includes the stone, Mini Patio Mix and different accessories. This pot is about 10″ across.

Indoor miniature gardening

An impromptu miniature garden centerpiece for Halloween that I made a few years ago. It lasted about three weeks before it turned to mush. I would try this again with a taller pumpkin – the candle burnt the top of the “greenhouse.” The pumpkin was about 10″ in diameter.

SEE more of our plants that we recommend for indoor miniature gardening here.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette! A FREE monthly newsletter filled with news, tips, how-to’s, seasonal to-do’s, and exclusive offers. Join us and thousands of other miniature gardeners from around the world here.

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New Format for Your Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter & Video Letter About Miniature Topiary!

New Format for Your Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter: Video Letters!

They say a picture says a thousand words. I wonder how many words a video says? Lol! Join me and thousands of Fellow Miniature Gardeners for you weekly dose of miniature garden goodness via VIDEO! I’m only starting to scratch the surface on what I can show you!

Today’s video is all about creating topiary for the miniature garden. See it here.

These videos will only be through the Mini Garden Gazette newsletter (sign up here) and archived in The Miniature Garden Society where they will be added to and expanded upon as we move forward. This is still a brand new hobby so we are still assembling all the many delicious insights, how-to’s and to-do’s as we go. Join us here, for yourMini Garden Gazette Newsletter. Join us here forThe Miniature Garden Society where we are digging deeper and dreaming bigger!

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Tired of Winter? Tired of Politics? Have NO FEAR…

Miniature Garden Society - the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

Miniature Garden Society – the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

Tired of Winter? Tired of Politics? Have NO FEAR…

…Your Miniature Gardeners are HERE!

Ugh. That silly groundhog called for SIX more weeks of winter…

Okay, you’re going to have to envision my green cape with my miniature garden logo flapping behind me in the breeze okay? With a green leotard, a mini skirt and really cute boots… can you picture it in your mind? Good. Nice boots, huh? Lol! Here’s what I have for you:

  • A website full of original content on your favorite topic of miniature gardening that is growing and evolving constantly.
  • A place to connect to people that do the same thing you do.
  • A website where there is always something growing.
  • A place for you to ask any question about miniature gardening, plants or accessories.
  • A website where you can find a yummy project for the afternoon, or for the long weekend.
  • A safe place for you to go on the internet that is free of flashing ads, videos that play at random, or ads that have tracked your latest search.

But wait. There’s more.

How about a website that shows you how you can make money doing what you love to do?

I’ve been working on this website for over 2 years now but it feels like I’ve only just started because there is still a TON of information that I have to put up in this unique website.

More projects, insight, how-to’s, upcoming show reviews, interviews and reviews of everything miniature garden! PLUS – I have a super-exciting secret that I’m ONLY sharing here, on this intro page to the Miniature Garden Society Website. You’ll have to click-in to find it out. (Promotion period for this has ended.)



Miniature Garden Society - the best website for Miniature Gardening on the Planet!

The Miniature Garden Society website includes – and will include – exclusive reviews, previews, interviews and news! Fun and informative! Click the picture to find out more. ;o)

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New, True Miniature Garden Trees are Deliciously Miniature Indeed!


Wonderful new, true miniature conifers are now in stock at your Miniature Garden Center, Check out the darling little developing cones on the Hildburghausen Miniature Norway Spruce. I am in love!!

New, True Miniature Garden Trees are the REAL DEAL!

“One for you. One for me. One for you. One for me… ” Lol! Sometimes I wonder why I am in the business of gardening in miniature. I’m like a kid in a candy store but I don’t eat the profits, I plant the profits. Thankfully, I’m running out of room in my in-ground garden to house them – but, wait – the dog can do without a lawn right? ;o)


And Primo it is! We are loving this new dwarf arborvitae, ‘Primo!’ This is exactly what we look for: a small tree that looks like a “big” tree in miniature!

Check out the wonderful additions to our online miniature garden nursery this season! TRUE miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs! Just in time of the holidays too – you can really surprise any miniature gardener, fairy gardener, railroad gardener, conifer collector, bonsai artist, shohin or mame artist or any plant nut for that matter.

Our miniature trees are of the highest quality in the country, if I must say, and they all are “good in the pot” until next spring as long as you keep them watered – even if is it freezing outside (frozen is much better than freeze-dried, right?) Keep them outside and you’ll keep them happy even if you are not ready to plant them or wrap them up for the gift-giving season.

You know you can plant anything in-ground as long as the soil is not frozen or soaking wet  AND you also know that you can plant a container garden at anytime of year.

These new trees and shrubs are outdoor plants. Don’t think you can fool Mother Nature by keeping them indoors  – unless you just want to enjoy it as a temporary arrangement, like cut flowers for example. You can find all the growing information and planting zones in each tree listing too.

If you have any questions, or find that something you wanted sold out – because quantities are limited – get in touch with us at and we can put your name on the waitlist for the next time the plant(s) become available. (This may not take as long as you think since our grower is now fully on board with the miniature garden idea!)


The new Jana Dwarf Spruce. All those little ball-shaped buds made me giggle when I this took this photo!

A list of our new and back in stock miniature and dwarf trees this season now up in your Miniature Garden Center Store, 

Geisha Japanese Holly – Lovely, tiny, rounded leaves.

Hebefolia Miniature Canada Hemlock – Awesome. The smallest Hemlock ever!

Hildburghausen Miniature Norway Spruce – You need to see the tiny cones!

Jana Miniature Norway Spruce – The buds all over it made me giggle. Lol!

Jeddeloh Canada Hemlock – Perfect for the full shade mini garden. 

Just Dandy Hinoki Cypress – Wonderful emerald green colors.

Little Charmer Dwarf Hinoki Cypress – Different colors & textures in one!

Little John Dwarf Hinoki Cypress – Amazing pattern in the swirling branches.

Moonfrost Canada Hemlock – A permanent a favorite for the mini garden.

Primo Dwarf Arborvitae – So looking forward to growing this one!

Shimpaku Chinese Juniper – Perfectly hardy to trim into a any shape.

Sky Pencil Japanese Holly – Evergreen and tall, the perfect anchor tree.

Tom Thumb Cotoneaster – Year-round interest, flowers in the spring.

Valley Cushion Dwarf Mugo Pine – Hardy and loves the full, hot sun.

Wee Willie Dwarf Boxwood – Versatile! Topiary, hedge or a wee tree!

White Bud Mugo Pine – A joy to grow, becomes a terrific “big” tree.

See the photos, close ups and growing information in our New and Back in Stock trees, plants and shrubs for the miniature garden hobby. It’s our specialty!

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette Newsletter delivered to your inbox each and every Friday afternoon. Sign up here!


The smallest Hemlock that we’ve had in the last 15 years in business. The Hebefolia Canada Hemlock is named after the perennial Hebe plant because if it’s tiny, rounded leaves. “One for me. One for you….” Lol!


I didn’t see these tiny cones on the Hebefolia Canada Hemlock at first. Check out the tiny stripes on the backside of the leaves too. It’s the little things, isn’t it? :o)

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In Search of The Perfect Miniature Garden Tree

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

I’m always on the look out for fun advertising fodder or puns to use – it’s one of the perks of the job. :o)

In Search of The Perfect Miniature Garden Tree

The store was a bit quiet the other day and Steve was looking for something to do. So, I told him to see what was up in the big world of miniature garden trees, fairy trees, railroad garden trees or bonsai starts by just Googling them to see what comes up. Whoa Nellie! Here’s what we found out.

From the Two Green Thumbs' archives.

Group shot taken in 2009. We still have some of these miniature gardens today that are still in miniature gardens now that I revisit the photo. I can see only one tree (that we don’t carry anymore) that ended up to big for us: the bushy cypress in the orange pot in the middle. I’ll remember the variety name at around 2 am tomorrow morning. Lol!

Miniature Garden Trees – Fairy Approved!

Where did everybody go? Lol! We’ve never shut down for the winter because miniature gardening has always been a season-less hobby for us here in Seattle, but you can do it anywhere. We’ve mentioned before how we can easily keep gardening and because you can plant a container at any time of year. You can plant in-ground anytime the ground is not frozen too. So keep gardening until you can’t, I say!

I so need the garden therapy after a hard week at work and I’m sure you can always use some peace and tranquility too. Checkout the wide variety of hardy trees and shrubs for your miniature garden adventures this season here, where they are sorted by USDA zones. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

Miniature and dwarf trees for railroad gardening

You can see how using high-quality, well-behaved trees is a worthy investment for any railroad gardener. The cone-shaped trees are dwarf spruces. The variegated shrub, bottom-left, I think is a euonymus and I’m pretty sure the blue shrub, bottom-right, is a Blue Star Juniper. That’s Steve in the back.


The Miniature Garden Society


Railroad Garden Trees

Miniature and dwarf trees for any garden railroad must behave as expected. This may be why most railroad gardeners shy away from the plant-side of the hobby and tend to focus more on layin’ the tracks and runnin’ the trains – at least in my experience they have.

If a tree doesn’t grow in as promised, and grows super-fast without the engineer-gardener expecting it, it can cause a major renovation and upset for the railroad that was built around that now-overgrown tree. The beauty with railroad gardens is the same as miniature gardening, the age of the garden really brings the charm and magic. So to upset a grown-in, planted scene merely two or three years after planting, will bring the age of the scene back to “0.” Fun if you planned for it but if you didn’t, not-so-much!

All our true miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs are of the highest quality in the country, are very well-behaved and do as the tag says in shape, growth rate and care. Our trees are always well-packed by (quite possibly) the best packer in the country (Steve, for real,) and they are sent the fastest way to avoid any stress, by USPS Priority Mail. We have plants for all sizes of miniature gardens.

Bonsai starts or pre-bonsai, this is the popular Elf Dwarf Spruce.

Elf Dwarf Spruce or Picea glauca ‘Elf.’ This tree is about 8 to 10 years old. Transplanted in 2012 from a 4″ pot.


Bonsai Starts

In our research, we have found a great many trees that we carry in our online store are used for bonsai as well. I’ve always bragged about how our trees naturally grow-in to look like a bonsai in a couple/few year’s time and while it feels like cheating, we’re just letting nature take its course. It appears as bonsai starts go, ours are pretty inexpensive if you have some time to grow them in for awhile.

Plant your Two Green Thumbs’ tree in a pot at least 8″ deep and let the baby tree grow a thicker trunk and wider branches for a couple/few years. Then bonsai the roots to fit them into the bonsai tray – you’ll be glad you did because you’ll be that much further ahead in the growth of the tree. If you bonsai a young tree right away, it will take much longer for the trunk to develop and the branches to reach out and thicken.

Don’t want to wait? Check out our one-gallon pre-bonsai trees up in the plant section of our Etsy store here. We do get smaller “pre-bonsai” tress in from time to time too, if you would like to join our email list to get first dibs. (Average cost is $20 or less!)

Happy Miniature Gardening!


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