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Miniature-Type Garden

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
09 May 2015   |   5:39 am
THE term “miniature garden: is an all-encompassing phrase for any small sized garden, living or artificial. It can be are big as a small backyard or as small as a thimble sized terrarium.
Miniature Garden in old cast iron sink

Miniature Garden in old cast iron sink with frame built around it for support.

THE term “miniature garden: is an all-encompassing phrase for any small sized garden, living or artificial. It can be are big as a small backyard or as small as a thimble sized terrarium.

Dish garden, bonsai, penjing, rock gardening, railroad gardening, gnome garden, tray gardening, windows ill gardening teacup gardening, terrariume, vivarums and wardian cases are all types of miniature gardens. But they are not literally a living garden in miniature.

But on focus is living miniature gardening as that can be enjoyed by all gardeners, space or no spare. The definition of a miniature gardening is the perfect blend of tiny tree, plants, landscaping and garden accessories that are in scale with one another to create a lasting, living garden scenes or vignette.

Living miniature garden include plants, patio/paths and an accessory all in scale with one another. When planted correctly, the plants and trees stay in scale with each other to make real, living garden scenes that can last for years in a container or in ground with minmal care to create a sustainable true garden in miniature.

What is a miniature garden? Big things come in small packages, it is true especially when it comes to miniature gardening. It’s just like life sized gardening but shrunken down to a tiny scale. Miniature gardens are made trees and shrubs that are dwarf and miniature.

The two terms describe the growth rate of the plant, not the mature size Dwarf means the plant 1-6 inches per year. Miniature means the plant will grow less than 1 inch per year.

The miniature plants are paired with small leafed, slow growing ground covers (or miniature beddings plants) and matched with the trees for similar light, water and placement requirements.

Where to Grow A Miniature Garden Just about anywhere but the key is “Right Plant, right place” plants are like people. We are all different and we thrive provided we have the right conditions.

Fairy garden features figure

Fairy garden features fairy figure by fish pond

Plants grow the same way. Each plant has specific needs, and each plant has specific place it likes the best, just like us. The saying “Right plant right place” really means to choose your plant after you have figured out the location of where your miniature garden will live.

Once you decide on the placement then you can figure out the kind of light (full sun, shade) indirect light temperature (indoor or outdoor) and the watering requirements (do the plants like moist soil or dry soil).

The miniature plants are paired with small-leafed, slow growing annuals or perennials and are matched with trees for similar light, water and placement requirements.

Before planting the garden, place all of the features, furniture and plants to be included in the design in their perspective place on top of the soil. This gives you the chance to experiment with different arrangements without over handling the plants and basically making a mess. Decide the placement of plants, patios, arbors, water features, and benches.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor plants” Indoor plants are tropical plants that like to stay 60 degree Fahrenheit, (about 15 Celsius) or above all year round.

In a colder climate you will have to bring them inside for the winter, they should be fine because the climate is similar. How to start Start with where you want it. Indoor? Outdoors? Full sun? shade? Once you decide on the placement then you can choose the container and the plants that will work for that spot.

Types of container to use The best containers for little landscapes have a large open surface area to accommodate many garden features ceramic and terracotta pots, wicker baskets, wooden boxes are good examples.

Small containers work well for creating little garden scenes and make great gifts. Begin with a 10 inch pot at least 10 inches deep and at least as wide.

The bigger the pot, the longer the garden will stay together. There are many different shapes and sizes of containers that you can use. Your garden can also be outside choose a spot that is protected from heavy rains or strong winds.

miniature garden

Miniature garden in a bowl

This will help to maintain the integrity of your little landscape design and miniature. How fast do miniature garden plants grow Some places grow a lot faster than others which is why the slow growing plants are preferred for the miniature garden. Some may take up to 15 years to get to their adult height of 2 inches tall we can enjoy them in the miniature garden for years before they need replacing.

How long do they last? A miniature garden can last for years in the pot or indefinitely in ground. Some trees will not mind their roots crowded in a container, other trees will need transplanting into bigger pots to keep them healthy and happy.

Judge you miniature garden by the health of your plants. If the garden has been together for years and suddenly starts to go brown, chances are its roots bound and needs, replanting.

How do you build them to last for years? Start with pots at least 10 inches deep and wide. The bigger the pot the longer the garden will stay together.

Most of the plants do not mind being transplanted into larger pots, but note also that some plants will complain miniature primroses, for example, prefer its roots crowded so a rock can be placed in the hole before it is planted. Watering Miniature garden are least watered by hand, using a small watering can or hose set at a trickle.

Too much water too fast will scatter stones, pavers, and soil and upset the whole garden. Plants have different watering needs. Not all plants need regular water and there are some plants that need water all the time.

By building your miniature garden with plants that like similar conditions, it makes it easy to water and maintain. The only way to really tell if your garden needs water is to put down your finger into the soil at least 1 inch and gauge the moisture in the soil.

Most of the plants need to dry out to damp in between watering session. Overwatering is just as harmful as under watering. If you travel a lot, get a succulent garden.

For indoor or tropical areas: a tall jade plant for a tree and small leaved succulents for the bedding plants. For colder climates, dwarf junipers and mugo pines are very hardy and don’t mind their soil to dry out a bit but not for too often.

What kind of plants for the office? It depends on the kind of light you have in the office. Naturally, indirect light from a window is ideal, but most office environments only have fluorescent light.

So first where do you want to place your miniature garden then decide on what kind of light you can bring to that space. There are many different lighting caption, to sort through, but once you narrow down your choice of light fixture and plant placement, then you can choose the different plants that will work for your situation.

Indoor plants are mainly tropical plants that want to stay 60 F or above all year long. (outdoor plants are different). Search for the plants, or plant families that will suit in your situation will you be there often to water? You can create with cactus very dry soil) succulents (not so dry). African violets (moist soil) or small palms with baby tears (even watered soil), etc. note that air circulation and water management is also a factor to consider.

Make sure you corral the water properly, especially if you work around computers Soil Soil is alive and dirt is dead what kind of soil do you use? Soil contains lots of yummy organic and tiny critters in it that the plants need to live. It is genuinely “alive”.

Dirt is what fills the cracks in the sidewalk. Use a combination of topsoil and compost in your garden bed. Using potting soil for your container.

Potting is a specific blend of compost, perlite and other nutrient to create a micro- environment that works with the plant’s roots – soil from the garden bed will not work in a pot.

Miniature garden in a wheelbarrow

Miniature garden in a wheelbarrow

Fertilizing Not every plant needs fertilizer vegetable and annuals the plant that grow fast and just survive one season need a lot more fertilizer than your miniature gardens. Pots older than two or three years will need mild fertilizer, early raining season (May) and again like mid September October.

Use a natural time release fertilizer that is really gentle on the plants. Too much fertilizer can kill or burn the plant. Pruning Not all plants needs pruning. Some plants are to be enjoyed for a life time without one snip or saw cut and others can benefit from a shearing each rainy season. Does the pot need drainage holes? All outdoor pots will need drainage hole to allow the rainwater to pass through.

Without the hole, the water will rot the plants and become a big smelly mess. Unless of course it is a water garden. For indoors use pots with drainage hole. If you are just learning how to garden.

It is the easiest way to learn and the excess water will drain out the bottom. Use a sauce to collect the water and protect your wood surfaces with a plastic-lined plant coaster to be safe (most ceramic saucers wick moisture and are not sealed).

For more experienced gardeners, using a cache pot or dish for a miniature garden will work with the correct kind of plants. Either use plants that don’t mind their roots kept wet or moist or plants that like dry soil.

Don’t use gravel in the bottom of the pot for drainage if the pot has a drainage hole. This recently de-bunked myth actually keeps the water from draining out of the soil (It is a water – surface tension thing) Besides, where there are rocks, there could be soil, if the pot does have a drainage hole, use at least an inch of gravel on the bottom.

Cut a round piece of landscape cloth to fit over the gravel then pour in the potting soil.

If it’s a low dish, build it like a terrarium and put a layer of charcoal between the gravel and soil. It eliminates and smells from the stagnant water. A miniature garden can last for years in a pot or indefinitely in the ground.