You may have seen a ‘Fairy Garden Plants and Accessories’ section pop up in your local garden centre. Akin to doll houses, this new trend takes the leaf houses and lawn cutting carpets of childhood to a whole new level.
These miniature gardens are a great way to introduce children to gardening. Many adults without access to outdoor space are finding planting and designing with fairy garden plants a therapeutic hobby too. There’s no need to mow the lawn with these pocket-sized havens!
- Which are the best fairy garden plants?
- Corsican mint (Menthe requienii)
- Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)
- Creeping thyme
- Miniature roses
- Oxalis (oxalis corniculata)
- Creeping speedwell
- Lavender (lavandula angustifolia)
- Sea thrift (Armeria maritima)
- Succulents such as stonecrops
- Trees – try dwarf varieties such as this dwarf golden Japanese Yew
- Where should I place my fairy garden?
- Creating the right base
- Some inspiration
- Fairy Garden kit provider?
- Miniature Plants & Trees
- Fairy Garden Plants and Miniature Trees for Small Containers
- How to Find the Right Plants for Your Miniature Garden
- How to Plant Your Miniature Trees and Fairy Garden Plants
- Miniature Garden Or Fairy Garden – Which One Should I Go For?
- How Do I Get Started?
- Ten Favorite Plants For Miniature Gardens
- Recommended Tools For Miniature Gardens
- 6 Things To Remember When Growing A Miniature Garden
- Stanley’s Greenhouse
- Types of Fairy Gardens
- Indoor vs. Outdoors Considerations
- Container Possibilities
- Decide On a Design Theme
- Soil, Watering, and Drainage
- Materials and Useful Tools
- Choosing Plants
- Full Sun
- Part Sun/Part Shade
- Indirect Light/Full Shade
- Building Your Fairy Garden
- Early Days
Which are the best fairy garden plants?
Colourful, delicate but compact plants are ideal. Unlike normal gardening, you will probably want to restrict growth. Do this by keeping the plant in its pot when you plant it.
Alpines, succulents and any minature varieties are perfect fairy garden plants. Here are some suggestions:
Corsican mint (Menthe requienii)
Tiny purple flowers and small green leaves make this an ideal fairy garden plant. It’s also very fragrant.
â€” Fairy Garden Fun (@garden_fun) January 11, 2017
Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)
Children love its furry foilage. It stays low, smells wonderful and is everygreen. Plus occasionally it shows soft-pink flowers.
â€” Gardening Know How (@gardenknowhow) June 6, 2015
Creeping Thyme – #gardening #diy #garden #gardens #landscaping https://t.co/o8YBOPpblJ pic.twitter.com/218FdlYhQW
â€” Gardening DIY (@GardeningDIY1) September 16, 2016
This is ‘Violet Hour’ a miniature single. It will soon be available so check our website at https://t.co/91bYNqcevB pic.twitter.com/QO0l6BMX7h
â€” Richard J Anthony (@ForLoveofRoses) January 9, 2017
Oxalis (oxalis corniculata)
Oxalis pes-caprae Open when the yellow flowers are strong in winter sunshine! pic.twitter.com/GjnOd7mDWd
â€” Miyuki Ikeno (@Gnetmaster) February 16, 2017
â€” Priyantha Wijesinghe (@elaphrornis) March 26, 2016
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia)
Lavandula angustifolia. Lavanda o espliego. pic.twitter.com/pe3aDjjzJ3
â€” Alberto (@ageuve) February 2, 2017
Sea thrift (Armeria maritima)
â€” Hortimarine (@Hortimarine) August 26, 2016
Succulents such as stonecrops
Succulent of the day: Fine Gold Leaf Stonecrop pic.twitter.com/zrkyiKpJMj
â€” Stutzmans Greenhouse (@stutzmansgarden) February 16, 2017
Trees – try dwarf varieties such as this dwarf golden Japanese Yew
â€” Gardening Life (@GardeningLife2) April 11, 2016
Where should I place my fairy garden?
Fairy garden plants seem to thrive best when they experience sunny mornings and shady afternoons. So pick a spot with an east or south-easterly aspect.
Creating the right base
- As with any container planting, drainage is important to make sure your fairy garden plants thrive. Make sure you have drainage holes in your container.
- Add a layer of small rocks or pea gravel.
- Add your soil base.
What sort of soil should I use?
Most fairy garden plants will respond well to our peat-free organic potting loam compost. Loam is a soil which combines clay, silt and sand. It combines water and nutrient retention with drainage properties. Because of the coir content, you will need to water less frequently than with traditional composts. Nutrients in the compost will help the plants grow well.
Alternatively, you may want to use our peat-free coconut coir to lighten your own soil or compost and make it drain more easily. Our 4cm Cocopeat discs are perfect if you don’t have much room for storage.
If you need soil improvers, perlite and vermiculite are great for keeping soil light and well-drained.
- Everything you need to know about fairy gardens
- Plant up a Wheelbarrow Fairy Garden
- Fairy gardens: bringing the magic in miniature
Fairy Garden kit provider?
Would you like to include the perfect amount of soil for your Fairy Garden kit? We can supply small bags of compost or coir. Take a look at our blog about how we supply the horticulture trade.
Miniature Plants & Trees
Fairy Garden Plants and Miniature Trees for Small Containers
These varieties of miniature plants and trees are suitable for use in smaller containers. Whether you are making an alpine trough, succulent hypertufa planter, bonsai garden, fairy garden or miniature garden, you will need small, rather slow growing trees and plants. Even miniatures require pruning or an occasional trim to maintain the petite size or to encourage rebloom. For more information about individual miniature trees and miniature plants, follow the links to find a useful description for each variety.
How to Find the Right Plants for Your Miniature Garden
When choosing miniature trees or miniature plants for a small-scale garden, let your imagination run free. The process is almost like painting a scene on a canvas. Start by picturing a “life-size” plant. Next, find a comparable miniature tree or plant to place in the garden. Magically this tiny plant becomes a large shrub in a flower bed or a majestic tree in the woodlands of the miniature world. Need a lawn? For a lawn, plant Baby Tears to establish lush, green grass in the front yard of the cottage. Be creative when planning the greenery for your miniature fairy garden.
How to Plant Your Miniature Trees and Fairy Garden Plants
Contrary to conventional wisdom, some trees and plants can successfully be left in their plastic pots and planted right into the container or garden. Using this technique restricts the growth of the miniature tree or miniature plant. They will be root bound by the end of the season, but during that growing period the trees and plants will retain their size much better than if they were planted directly in the soil. Remember to pay a little more attention to the watering! This method works very well for plants like fairy vine, sedum, or topiaries, but not for spreading ground cover plants. Use the same technique for miniature trees too. Consider planting miniature woody evergreens in their pots to keep the small size during the growing season.
Do you have a soft spot in your heart for fairies? Are you fond of fairy tales? Do you dream of having a miniature garden in your backyard or indoors populated with fairies and fairy houses? If yes, this article is for you. If you’re thinking of creating a miniature garden with living plants decorated with various garden accents, this guide contains all the required information and things you need to get your feet wet.
In this article, we will discuss whether you want a fairy garden or a miniature garden, what the best plants for the gardens are, where to get them, how to plant and tend them as well as how to bedeck it to showcase your creativity. So, without further ado, let’s get to it:
Miniature Garden Or Fairy Garden – Which One Should I Go For?
It appears that many people mix the term miniature garden and fairy garden, despite there being some fundamental differences. A miniature garden is focused on growing a garden on a small scale. The trees and shrubs that are planted are dwarf-sized and miniature garden accessories like benches, fountains or birdbaths are used to scale it for the viewers. Fairy gardens, on the other hand, aren’t as focused on plant selection, design or scale like their miniature counterparts. Fairy gardens are usually fixated on fairies and related accessories.
So, which is for you? Well, it all comes down to your preferences and lifestyle. If you like imaginary fairies and sceneries that make you remind of your playful childhood days, go for a fairy garden. Also, it’s easier to make and take care of fairy gardens. Meanwhile, if you like observing nature in miniature scale and don’t mind spending a few hours every week honing your gardening skills and curating trees, then a miniature garden is ideal for you.
In this piece, we will primarily talk about all the bells and whistles of growing a miniature garden. Having said that, check the following section where we have compiled a list of things you should remember when growing a miniature garden.
How Do I Get Started?
Many people don’t like to try new things as most of them become overwhelmed or make things more complicated than they are actually are. However, miniature gardens are relatively easy. It is okay if you can’t help getting confused with all the choices and possibilities at first, but the first step to get the ball rolling is by selecting a place where your miniature garden will live.
Ask yourself—“Do I want my miniature garden in a container or in the ground?” If it’s a container, then decide on where that container is placed. If you’re planning to keep your mini garden containers indoors, choose a nice container that matches your décor.
Now check if whether the spot you decided meets the lighting requirements. Does it get full sunshine or is it shady?
Let’s talk about soil for that spot now. You’ll need potting soil if you’re growing your miniature garden in a pot or container and organic garden soil for the garden bed.
Now that the placement has been finalized, research the plants that suit that spot or container. If you want your miniature garden to be a success, we recommend you plant taller plants at the back of the pot, shorter plants in the front, at least one tree that will eventually be the centerpiece.
Ten Favorite Plants For Miniature Gardens
Unlike traditional backyard gardens, plants or shrubs that resemble full-sized trees are ideal for mini gardens. You can also use indoor bonsai trees in your miniature garden but grow them in pots for easier maintenance. If you can’t find bonsai trees, you can trim the bottoms leaves or twigs of a shrub to expose the trunk, which will make it look like a tree.
Nonetheless, here we’ve compiled ten of our favourite plants for indoor and outdoor miniature gardens. You can also add some of your favourites if you can find it here.
Ten Favorite Plants For An Indoor Miniature Garden
- English Boxwood
- False Cypress
- Parlor Palm
- Norfolk Pine
- Ellwood’s Blue Cypress
- Dwarf Mondo Grass
- Baby Tears
- Corsican Mint
- Sugar Vine
Ten Favorite Plants For An Outdoor Miniature Garden
- Just Dandy Dwarf Hinoki Cypress
- Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce
- Miniature Juniper
- Dwarf Mugo Pine
- Sky Pencil Japanese Holly
- Miniature Daisies
- Platt’s Black Brass Buttons
- Small Hens and Chicks
- Irish Moss
Recommended Tools For Miniature Gardens
In every craft, you need tools and supplies. For example, if you’re a creating an art piece, you need basic resources like a canvas, paint, brushes, and yes, a boatload of inspiration. Similarly, when it comes to miniature gardening, you need some basic supplies. These include buckets, wheelbarrows, hoses, various gardening equipment, and hand tools.
If you feel confused by the terms gardening tools and hand tools, allow me to clear it for you. Gardening types of equipment are shovels, spades, or forks, whereas hand tools include trowels, hand pruners, shears, or weeders. When buying these tools, you’ll find that these tools come in a range of different shapes and colors, while keeping the functionality intact. So, don’t hesitate to add your own personal touch to your gardening equipment. It will make your gardening work more fun.
6 Things To Remember When Growing A Miniature Garden
- Use Small Tress: Miniature gardens are all about scaling down real outdoor gardens. Use small trees for adding height to your garden. Use shorter plants as bedding plants to mimic the understory. For better results try combining various textures of plants for the understory.
- Light: All the plants in your container should have the same light if you want your miniature garden to be a success. We recommend you use grow bulbs or 5000K bulbs.
- Temperature: If you’re growing a miniature garden indoors, ensure the room temperature stays above 60F (15C) all year round.
- Soil: We suggest you use organic potting soil. The organic potting soil is generally free from fertilizers and water-retaining polymers.
- Water: Make sure the container in which you’re growing your miniature garden has a hole for excess water to drain out. For aesthetic reasons, we recommend you get a container with matching saucer.
- Scale: This is by far the most important when it comes to growing a miniature garden. Pay attention to the scale of your miniature garden. If this is the first time you’re growing a miniature garden, things may look complicated, but when you get hang of it, it becomes easier. Also, remember to keep all the accessories in scale too, so as not to confuse the viewer.
If you’re creating your miniature garden in a container like most people, you should know the size of the accessories in relation to the container. If you do not, fret not, we got you covered.
- If your container is 10″ in diameter or larger, use accessories that are larger or at least 1″ in scale. The same measurement also applies to in-ground mini gardens.
- For smaller pots of 10″ in diameter or under, use mini size or ½” scale.
- For containers ranging from 2″ to 4″, use micro sized accessories or those that are ¼” scale.
Sure to attract garden fairies and pixies to your yard, this Miniature Fairy Garden Ivy Furniture Set
is a fun and whimsical addition to flowerbeds and planters alike.
Tell your fairies to put on their jeans, tie back their wings and grab their garden gloves because it is time to get planting! Spring is the perfect reason to make a garden for all your fairy homes and accessories that you have collected over the winter. Here is a brief overview of soil and plant selection to get you off on the right fairy foot.
How to Begin
Starting with the right soil is important to give your plants the best environment to grow in. Not all soil is equal and the easiest way to judge is by looking at it. There should be composted material with small barks bits. It should look alive, dark, rich and full of organic matter. Dirt is the lifeless, gray sandy stuff between the cracks in the sidewalk.
If you are planting edibles (plants that you eat) in your fairy garden and you are not sure of the soil quality, you can get it tested first or ask an experienced gardener for advice. If you are planting ornamentals, like small trees and perennials, you don’t have to be as cautious, but you still should see a nice blend of organic matter in the soil.
Your soil should have a good blend of compost and bark bits. For this container,
vermiculite, the white bits, are added to improve the drainage of the soil.
A brand new garden is an exciting project because you can design it exactly the way you like, but still spend a bit of time on the soil before you begin. There are different types of garden soil in your garden bed: sandy, loamy or clay, for example. This depends on where you live and whether your garden bed has been cultivated, or used as a garden before, or not. Topsoil is meant for adding to garden beds, but compost may be a better choice to introduce more organic matter to the soil.
If the ground can be worked, meaning you can shovel it and loosen the soil; you may only need to add some compost to improve the quality for planting. If the soil is hard clay, consider building on top of the clay by using raised beds. Lasagna gardening is another ideal method for building raised garden beds on lawns without needing to rip-out the grass first.
The Gray Fairy Garden Cottage is nestled into an in-ground garden. The creamy
Adirondack Furniture Set is a pretty combination with the blue trim.
Fairy Garden Pots
Potting soil is engineered to have everything that a plant needs to keep the plant healthy. Choose plain organic potting soil with out any added fertilizers or moisture-retention. Different kinds of plants like particular types of potting soil mixes. A cactus, succulents or sedums, for example, like dry roots and will need a different kind of potting soil than a spruce or pine tree where the roots of these conifers need the soil to stay damp. This information is usually noted within the plant’s care instructions on the tag. Group plants with the same soil requirements together in the same pot. Note that topsoil, or soil from your garden bed, is not a substitute for potting soil.
Most plants like a bit of air around their roots. If the regular potting mix does not contain enough drainage material like vermiculite or perlite, you may need to add a handful or two to your soil mix. Providing a good blend of well-draining soil now, will help keep your potted miniature garden together for years.
The Miniature Stucco Fairy Garden Cottage with Thatched Roof is a great match with the Woodland Fairy Garden Set.
The colors of the cottage and the woodsy-ness of the furniture add a country feel to this miniature scene.
Selecting Your Place, Selecting Your Plants
Once you start to look for plants for your fairy garden, you will find a lot of different choices that may be a little overwhelming. Narrow down your plant selection by deciding where you want to plant your garden. If you are working in-ground, is the garden bed in shade, part shade or full sun? If you are planting in a pot, where will the pot be placed? Indoors? Outdoors in part sun? Now you can go find the trees and plants to suit that location.
Indoor plants are different than outdoor plants for most regions. Indoor plants are tropical plants that need to stay 60 degrees or above all year, and they adjust their growth spurts and flowering time by the amount of daylight. Outdoor plants need the changes in temperatures to know when to go dormant, and when to grow. The golden garden rule, is “right plant, right place,” follow this rule for the best success.
Use Sedum cuttings or small rooted drought-tolerant plant starts for your miniature planters because
that little amount of soil won’t be able to say damp. Keep them out or the rain, so the plants don’t drown.
Janit Calvo is the author of the Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World from Timber Press. For more great fairy gardening ideas, visit her web site, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center.
Types of Fairy Gardens
- An indoor fairy garden (located in a home, office, enclosed porch, or sunroom) with an open container
- An indoor fairy garden with a closed container with care similar to a terrarium
- An outdoor fairy garden with an open container or growing space
- An outdoor fairy garden with a closed container with care similar to a terrarium
Indoor vs. Outdoors Considerations
- An indoor fairy garden allows you to control the temperature, water, and wind that affect your garden
- Indoor fairy gardens bring a bit of the natural world into your interior environment
- Outdoor fairy gardens benefit from being in an environment where beneficial insects can help control the presence of deleterious insects
- Outdoor fairy gardens benefit from rainwater which does not have the chemicals and hard metals sometimes found in tap water
- Most outdoor fairy gardens will need to be brought indoors before the first frost
- The ideal container choice for a fairy garden is a medium-to-large-sized dish garden: a low, shallow-sided clay, terracotta, or ceramic container with a hole or holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain
- A clear-glass terrarium container or empty fishbowl can be used, but remember the need for greater care when watering a container that has no holes for water to drain. If you choose a closed or open container terrarium, take a look at our step-by-step terrarium instructions at: http://www.stanleysgreenhouse.com/ideasyoucanuse/2016/4/11/how-to-make-a-terrarium
- An old glass jar, jug, or bottle
- Helpful tip: thoroughly clean any container before using it for your fairy garden
Decide On a Design Theme
- Woodland, tropical, or desert
- Add your favorite fairies, gnomes, and other fabled creatures
- Choose interesting accessories such as sticks, wood, seedpods, and bark
- Add ceramic figures such as frogs, mushrooms, and snails
- Add a house, furniture, dog, cat, birds, insects
- Use your imagination to create a tiny world all your own, but avoid using too many accessories
Soil, Watering, and Drainage
- Because most fairy gardens are built in small, confined, shallow spaces, less soil is used, so it it very important to use a high-quality growing medium
- Ready-mixed, peat-lite terrarium mix is an excellent soil choice with its blend of peat moss, vemiculite and perlite. Potting soils sold at garden centers and nurseries have been sterilized and may contain fertilizers which will boost plant growth and health
- If you are using a terrarium without drainage holes, use great care not to overwater your fairy garden
- For an outdoor location fairy garden, sun, wind, and rain will dictate how much watering you will need to do. More sun, wind exposure, and less rain call for more watering of your fairy garden
- Too much rain, can cause your garden to develop fungi and other pest issues, so if you are experiencing severe rainy conditions, bring your outdoor fairy garden inside or under cover
Materials and Useful Tools
- The container
- Growing medium high in organic matter such as pre-packaged peat-lite mix (blend of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite) or potting soil with fertilizer added
- Pebbles or gravel for drainage
- Sticks, rocks, seedpods, or bark for decorating
- Spagnum moss is a lovely addition to your garden–especially if you are using plants that prefer partial shade or full shade sun exposure
- Small ceramic figures to suggest a natural setting
- A small gardening spade
- Plants that have a low and dense growth habit work best. Choose only plants that are healthy and disease free
- Choose plants that fit the size of your container with plenty of room to grow. Choose plants of differing heights — tall in the back, medium height in the middle, and short in the front
- Choose plants that require the same amount of moisture and light (don’t use tropical plants with plants native to the desert)
- If you are using a closed-container terrarium container, use care with choosing succulents and cacti because moist conditions can cause plant rot
- Full-sun = 4-6 hours of sun exposure
- Full-sun plants offer a more colorful display, however, the combination of wind and full sun can be too much for less hardy flowers
- Succulents, kalanchoe, short varieties of sedum, and crown of thorns are excellent choices for full sun–and all of them flower as well
- For summer planting, dwarf zinnias are an excellent choice because zinnias are hardy, colorful, and love full sun
- Pansies (available in the fall, winter, and early spring) are a hardy flowering plant, full-sun choice
Part Sun/Part Shade
- Part sun/part shade exposure = 2 -4 hours of sun or dappled shade
- A great diversity of plants adapt well to this sunlight category
- Asparagus fern, selaginella moss, streptocarpus, rex begonia, baby tears, and tillansias (air plants) are excellent part-shade choices
- Panolas (a cross between pansies and violas) are good flowering options for partial sun/partial shade conditions and are sold in the fall, winter, and early spring
- Be sure not to overwater part sun/part shade plants since they do not have the drying action of full sun exposure
Indirect Light/Full Shade
- Full shade/indirect light is categorized as dappled shade all day or up to 2 hours of morning or evening light
- Indoors you can achieve indirect light beautifully if you have a large window that has some shading such as glass block or half closed window shades
- Hardy violas, ferns, lenten roses, heuchera (coral bells), and arum respond well to full shade conditions
- Here again, be careful not to overwater plants that do not get direct sunlight
Building Your Fairy Garden
Make sure your container is clean and dry
Add the drainage material: pebbles, rocks, gravel, or marble chips
Add the growing medium which should be slightly moist, usually you will need at least 1-1/2 inches of medium to provide sufficient volume
Choose a distinctive plant for a focal point, and add plants of varying heights for visual interest
Before placing the plants, dig holes in the dirt with a pointed stick or wooden chopsticks
Remove the plants from their original pots and along with any extra soil to expose the roots. Place the plants in the growing medium and tamp down to firm it
In a closed container, try not to touch the roots to the side of the container
Mist the plants to remove excess dirt, and water carefully to ensure the plants get enough water but not too much
- Watch your fairy garden closely over the first few weeks as the plants are extending their roots and getting used to their location and new habitat
- Adjust water, sunlight, and placement of your fairy garden according to how happy your plants appear
- If your plants remain green and grow steadily, you have chosen good plants matched with a location that suits them
- If one plant is not happy, no cause for concern–just swap it out with another plant rated for your sun level
- If all your plants begin to die, you may be over- or under-watering them, or they may be getting too much or too little light
- If you want to add to your fairy garden accessory collection, come see us at Stanley’s because we are always getting in new fairy garden items
- If you have questions about your fairy garden, come in or give us a call at 865-573-9591
- Enjoy your small-scale garden–with or without fairies!
Jennifer Williams absent-mindedly smooths the white sand of a Zen garden, a task that takes less than a minute, though the rake is no bigger than her finger. Instead of square feet, the space is measured in square inches, a small snapshot of a real Japanese landscape.
As she putters, Williams, a 10-year veteran of
Dennis’ 7 Dees
, chats about scale and perspective, essential elements for creating a realistic miniature garden, a pastime popular enough to be considered one the hottest trends of 2012.
“We’re getting record sales,” confirms Janit Calvo, owner of
, an online miniature garden center based in Seattle. “We usually really slow down in January. Not this year. We set a record.”
Calvo, who is writing a book on the subject for
, says she doesn’t know exactly what fueled the surge, but guesses the economy had something to do with it. Miniature gardens take less time and money than real ones but give similar satisfaction. Savvy garden centers are picking up on the possibilities, adding classes and carrying dwarf plants.
About five years ago, Nicole Forbes, assistant manager of the Lake Oswego Dennis’ 7 Dees, started messing around with what she called miniscaping, a version of miniature gardening without the accessories that define a garden. Now the nursery sells appropriately sized fences, arbors, furniture, fountains, tools, even strings of tiny twinkling lights. Pieces come grouped in three sizes: 1/4, 1/2 and 1 inch.
Credit goes to Two Green Thumbs, though, for introducing small-scale landscaping to the Northwest and eventually beyond.
“I started selling pieces and parts on eBay in 2002,” says Calvo, who has made about 1,500 miniature gardens — in the ground, in pots, indoors and out — over the years. She spread the word at garden shows, business took off, and by 2004 the online store was up and running.
View full sizeFAITH CATHCART/THE OREGONIANThis tiny Zen garden includes a rake for smoothing and soothing.
At that time, miniscapes were the domain of model train enthusiasts. Then came fairy gardens, an idea that was off-putting to some people, including Williams, who says, “Quite honestly, I was a little skeptical. I don’t connect with fairies. Then I saw all the accessories and began figuring out how to create scenes. It’s on a scale that fairies could visit, but not the overarching theme.”
Pixie gardens certainly didn’t appeal to the 7-year-old boy living next door to Forbes, who told her, “I’m making a scary garden, not a fairy garden.” And he did, complete with cactus and a fence made of toy bones.
That’s the magic of small gardens; you can create something you can’t do — or don’t want to — in your backyard. If you’ve always yearned for a high-maintenance English garden, you’ll find everything you need in exactly the right size, including wrought iron table and chairs, bicycle with basket, even glass cloches and terra-cotta pots. Yes, all of these itsy-bitsy pieces add up, but a miniature garden doesn’t have to be expensive. You can save a bunch of money by repurposing a basket or box as a container. Gather stones and seashells from the beach. Shave down twigs for a fence. Filch furniture from an old dollhouse or the Scottie dog from a Monopoly game. Unswirl that umbrella you saved from a vacation mai tai. Rummage around in your jewelry box.
In other words, make it personal.
“There’s something magical in the details,” says Calvo. “It’s a fantasy anyone can have.”
Kym Pokorny: 503-221-8205;
View full sizeFAITH CATHCART/THE OREGONIANI little bird house, miniature wire furniture and glass stepping stones give this a backyard oasis feel. PLANTS FOR FAIRY GARDENS AND MINISCAPES
This list is by no means comprehensive but will get you started.
): Has the appearance of tiny ferns; ground hugging and easy to grow and control
*Dwarf English boxwood
Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’
): Makes excellent small trees; variegated cultivars available.
Dwarf lady’s mantle
): Delicately cupped green leaves have reddish stems; drops of water collect on leaves like jewels.
*Dwarf mondo grass
‘Nana’): Dark green, clumping grass that spreads easily and stays short.
‘Victor Reiter’ or
): Tufted, mounding, grasslike growth with long-lasting, globular pink flowers.
‘Elfin’): Dense, mat-forming ground-cover herb with a greenish gray leaf and lovely aroma.
Miniature sweet flag
‘Minimus Aureus’): Slender gold and green blades growing in a fan shape. As with all the A. gramineus cultivars, this must be kept evenly moist in order to maintain lustrous foliage.
): A classic herb that in lore is said to be a favorite hiding place for fairies; can be trimmed to look like a small tree or shrub.
Sedum, Sempervivum, Jovibarba
): For dry conditions, cactus gardens and desert fairies.
): Delicate yet sturdy vining plant that can be
trained over small arbors, up trellises or as a trailing accent.
Dwarf or miniature conifers
(many different kinds): Must be slow growing. Dwarfs grow 2 to 3 inches a year; miniatures 1 inch a year).
*Can also be used indoors.
Gallery: Create a miniature English-style garden
): Teeny-tiny green leaves grow low and spreading; may need occasional trimming.
*Dwarf false cypress
‘Ellwood’s Pillar’ or
‘Ellwood’s Pygmy’): Excellent dwarf conifers with slow growth and a bluish color.
): Clasping stems covered by overlapping small, dark, oval leaves; much valued for use in many applications, including topiary, terrariums, wall covers and hanging baskets.
Weeping fig tree
): Great effect of leafy tree; faster growing than dwarf plants, but can be trained as a bonsai and kept trimmed to size.
): Great chartreuse color; foliage is lemon-scented. Can be fast growing, but is tolerant of constant pruning.
): Dark green leaves have pink and white freckles; easy care.
): Textured and airy, looks just like fairyland.
Any small ferns, cactuses or other tender small succulents
*Can also be used outdoors with protection.
Nicole Forbes, assistant manager, Dennis’ 7 Dees, Lake Oswego location, dennis7dees.com, 503-636-4660
View full sizeFAITH CATHCART/THE OREGONIANBlack pebbles, wooden furniture and a dark-roofed structure are part of a mountain themed grouping. How to create a miniature garden
Pick a location
(outdoors or indoors) and sun exposure.
Select your container.
To save money, build or reuse a wooden box, basket with liner, wheelbarrow, birdbath or other container. For the best results, use a container with drainage holes. If not, put a small amount of charcoal and a layer of pebbles at the bottom.
Decide on a style.
There’s no need to stick to it, but visualizing or drawing a plan will help you get started. Some ideas: Zen meditation; English knot-garden/labyrinth; woodsy; gothic; prayer garden/memorial; backyard retreat with a tiny gas barbecue and swimming pool.
Select miniature or dwarf plants
that will give the look you’re after and are appropriate for the location. If you’re not sure about the eventual size, ask questions. Some nurseries treat their plants with growth regulator, so ask about that, also.
Use good-quality potting soil;
never topsoil from your yard.
Play around with the hardscape
(fence, paths, patio, etc.) to figure out where you want these elements to go. Then remove them so you can dig the holes for plants.
starting with “trees.”
Install the hardscape
you designed earlier.
Decorate with accessories,
leaving some open space so it doesn’t end up looking like a container garden rather than a miniature garden.
with necessary pruning and light fertilization.
Nicole Forbes, assistant manager, Dennis’ 7 Dees; and Janet Calvo, owner, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center
More tiny plantings
For more on creating miniature green worlds, check out
Dennis’ 7 Dees, several locations,
Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center,
Upcoming miniature garden classes
Sunday, March 25,
2 p.m., Dennis’ 7 Dees, 6025 S.E. Powell Blvd., 503-777-1421, (
Saturday, March 31
, 11 a.m., Dennis’ 7 Dees, 1090 McVey Ave., Lake Oswego, 503-636-4660
Saturday, March 31,
2 p.m., Dennis’ 7 Dees, Cedar Hills store, 10455 S.W. Butner Road, 503-297-1058
Friday, April 13,
10 a.m., Cornell Farm, 8212 S.W. Barnes Road,
Saturday, May 5,
1 p.m., Garden Fever, 3433 N.E. 24th Ave.,