Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World

Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World

by Janit Calvo


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Get ready to journey into the huge world of growing small!

The next garden trend combines the joy of gardening with the magic of miniatures. Gardening in Miniature is a complete guide to creating lush, living, small-scale gardens. It has everything you need to pick up this new hobby, including scaled down garden designs, techniques for creating tiny hardscapes, miniature garden care and maintenance, tips on choosing containers, how to buy the right plants, and where to find life-like accessories. Inspiring step-by-step projects feature basic skills that can be recreated in any number of designs, like a tiny patio, a trellis, a pond, and a secret garden.

Whether you want to build a miniature empire in your garden bed or design a private garden with a pebble patio for an indoor centerpiece, Gardening in Miniature is the primer for creating your own tiny, living world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604693720
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 367,257
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 8.13(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Janit Calvo is an artist, miniaturist, gardener, author, photographer, and entrepreneur. She gardens with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and is surrounded by her award-winning miniature worlds of all shapes and sizes in among her full-size gardens. Pioneer of the miniature garden hobby and the founder of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and the Miniature Garden Society, Calvo graduated with honors from the Ontario College of Art and Design. She has won awards at the Seattle Miniature Show and the Soriculture Garden Art Show. Find out more at

Read an Excerpt

Good Things Come in Small Gardens: An Introduction

What is it that draws the heart and eye to things smaller than real life? Perhaps the fact that anything miniature reminds us of play. After all, our childhood toys were our first miniatures. Whether they were Lincoln Logs, Legos, Barbies, G.I. Joes, or other kinds of dolls, our toys were always miniature versions of us or other parts of our lives. We projected ourselves into the scene and got lost in the small version of our world, exactly how we liked it. Those positive feelings of play and laughter were—and still are—vital to our happiness, and when we see miniatures and remember our fun, carefree playtimes, we feel that way again.

The sense of wonder that comes over us can be quite potent. When you are the writer and director, creating the story, setting the scene, and placing the props, you bring that innocent pleasure into your adult life under the guise of a hobby. But really, hobbies just give us permission to play again.

Many miniaturists are enamored with the idea of anything small because miniatures are a part of our history. The oldest known human artifact is a diminutive replica of the female form, the Venus of Hohle Fels, dated between 35,000 and 40,000 B.C. This tiny sculpture is just under two and a half inches tall. Dollhouse miniature themes are often a memory from childhood, a place visited in the past, or a love of a specific historical period. It is noteworthy that the main themes of dollhouse miniatures and model railroads are historical, reminding us of a simpler time. Model or garden railroading takes us on a journey through a specific landscape that is either a historical model, or comes from the creator’s mind. You can’t help but imagine yourself in the scene.

This passion for miniatures has found its way into other aspects of our lives as well. Live, miniature-sized horses and dogs have long been popular; now you can own miniature cows and goats, too. Then there was the fleeting fad of teacup (tiny) pigs a few years ago. It turned out they were just very young piglets, being sold as a miniature breed. Fantasy games are full of pint-sized versions of characters that players collect. The horticultural industry has kept up with this interest as well, breeding tiny vegetables that can easily be grown from seed. Dwarf and miniature forms of our favorite trees, shrubs, and perennials have been discovered over the last few decades and are now found in most garden centers.

From that initial spark comes the challenge of figuring out how to perfect the illusion—resizing from big to small in flawless scale, hunting for and utilizing believable materials, mastering techniques that will both trick and delight the eye. The end reward is seeing a face light up when the viewer experiences the sprinkling of magic that infuses a lovingly made miniature scene.

A miniature garden scene is enchanting because you automatically start building a story about it. You ask yourself, what’s going on here? Who are those chairs for? What kind of party is that little table set for? Are there friends or family coming over? What is the occasion? The imagination starts to fill in the blanks as props lend clues and personality. A tiny stool with a watering can beside it, placed in a small miniature garden vignette, is intriguing because it’s only a scene with no characters—who could it be for besides you?

Gardening is part of our collective psyche even more than our fascination with miniaturization. To blend both—creating gardens in miniature, with living trees, shrubs, bedding plants, water features, furniture, and garden art—is to open up limitless possibilities for bringing dreamscapes, wonderlands, and enchanting places from our past or our imaginations to vibrant life, in no small way.

Once you are bitten by the miniature garden bug, there is no turning back. The possibilities will start to stack up in your head at all hours of the day and night, and there is often a squeal of excitement involved somewhere in this process (it’s okay, just let it out when it happens and explain yourself later—but only if you have to). Do you dream of recreating that garden memory of your year spent in Europe? A vignette taken from your childhood growing up on your grandmother’s farm? Maybe you’ve always wanted your own garden oasis but you live in a condo. Now is the time to dream and scheme!

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