For physiological reasons, humans adore miniature things. Take for example, babies, kittens and puppies. I say this because when I saw photos of these tiny gardens at MiniatureGardenShoppe.com my English turned into “baby talk.” I felt a bit silly, but then realized surely these photos affect everyone else in a similar manner. (ahem)
Once I finished squealing, I decided to write a blog post on the topic. My experience in small scale gardening is limited to terrariums, which are quite different as they involve an enclosed environment.
Miniature gardens resemble dollhouses, which might lead one to believe they grow indoors. However, these tiny garden caricatures do best out of doors in a protected location, away from wind and afternoon sun.
A small garden can get lost among the “real world” of a larger garden. Kathryn at Miniature Garden Shoppe recommends placing your miniature garden where it can stand out, like below a tree or shrub, or next to a bench. The main idea is to make sure visitors won’t miss it.
Just about any type of container can be used for a miniature garden, as long as it has adequate drainage. Fill the container with good quality potting mix. Avoid potting mixes that contain “sedge peat,” an ingredient that causes the mix to stay too wet.
As with any garden, you’ll need to decide on a “theme” or focal point. What kind of garden do you want to create? Make a list of ideas and then choose an easy one to start. The garden on the left has a beach theme that incorporates sand over the top of the soil, along with some fun glass pieces and shells. The other miniature garden pictured is a small garden scene, complete with a patio. Notice how it’s placed in the garden where it stands out yet blends in with the landscape at the same time.
Some miniature gardens are designed for fairies and include little toadstools and gnomes. The one on the left was created by a friend of mine, Miz MuddyToes. She used a black tub (originally held molasses feed for cattle) and painted it lavender. She filled the tub with potting soil and chose plants with sensory appeal so her students would enjoy touching and smelling them. These plants also thrive in morning sun. The plants include thyme, nicotiana (pink flowers), lambs ears (fuzzy gray plant), campanula (blue flowers), and salvia (in the back). Most of these plants won’t stay small, and need pruning as they grow. It’s like a bonsai, except some plants need to be replaced.
For those of you who enjoy yard sales and thrift stores, keep a lookout for interesting items that can be made miniature. You can also purchase them at craft stores or online. Now that this type of gardening has become popular (again) items like benches, arbors, chairs, bicycles, toadstools and fairies can be found on websites and garden stores. Some of the more easily found items like rocks and stones can be found out in nature or when walking your neighborhood.
If you’d like to see a miniature garden created from start to finish, click here. Kathryn makes it look so easy!
Excellent plants for miniature gardens that have tiny flowers include crane’s bill (Erodium chamaedryoides) which has tiny pink flowers, ageratum (blue/purple/pink flowers), alyssum (white/pink/purple flowers), and violets. Other great plants include thyme, baby’s tears, dragon’s blood (sedum spathyphyllum), sedum angelina, many succulents, and most ground cover plants.
Special thanks to Kathryn at Miniature Garden Shoppe for allowing the use of her photos.