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The Joy of Mini Gardening

As a child I often found myself drawn to the miniature. I recall the most fun with this happening outside, in the the little shaded space between two giant lilac bushes that grew outside my mothers kitchen window. I’ve always had an over active sense of “pretend” and I used to love to take my little dolls outside and design little garden areas for them with rocks, twigs and whatever else I could find. There was always something soothing about creating a tiny setting, even as a child.

As an adult I’ve found that mini gardening, in all it’s variations, still gives me the same feeling. The finished product is always a joy to walk by and look at, as if by turning my attention to it I find a momentary escape from life’s many responsibilities and stresses. It is soothing and relaxing. As I look at the little scene I’ve created I am stolen away, if only for a moment, into somewhere imaginary I’ve created.

Mini Garden with bridge

But even so, the joy of a finished mini garden can not compare to the engaging and creative place I go to when I create a mini garden. It makes me understand the patience and care that goes into that ancient art of bonsai gardening. It is a soothing and therapeutic thing to get lost in your little creation and at times I find the creation itself comes to life as I begin with one idea and find it taking an entirely different shape as I let go and give way to the creative process.

I’ve had the chance to share that joy with my husband and step-children and I’ve seen all them take to the challenge of starting with a small blank canvas of a selected pot, choosing their plants, pebbles, moss and creating something beautiful they can be proud of and care for.

Mini garden with red accentsI have a lot of people come to my shop with their kids or grandkids to create mini gardens or watch me do it. It is always a fun and engaging experience for everyone involved. I try to always have a few pre-made gardens on hand for people who are looking for a unique gift, plus it give me the chance to do it my own way and see someone else appreciate it.

A mini garden can be anything, and lately I’ve been preferring to go with one plant which I can build a scene around, focusing even more on the landscape of the garden. Even so, it can be just as fun to create a garden bursting with plants and a few pebbles. That’s what makes it so fun, it is all about your own personal preference.

Mini garden options-


Succulents mini GardenAt first I stuck with succulents and cactus, which are a fun and relatively easy plants to work with in the mini setting due to their heartiness. They can be an attractive feature outside in the summer or in a sunny window inside. I often found that over the winter it was difficult to give them enough light and they often had to be redone in the spring because they got long and leggy. This was also true in the case of not having quite the light requirements in the place of display I wanted them in the house. So, a succulent garden is excellent for an outside covered patio or a room with bright light.

Terrarium plants-

TerrariumAt first I found the world of tiny house plants intimidating because it was slightly more difficult due to water needs. But over time I learned to use the right kind of tiny plants. Terrarium plants are usually in a 2″ pot, which is very small and gives you room to use multiple plants in a pot to create a garden scene with. They can also be planted in glass terrarium vessels or houses which are very attractive.
I ended up actually preferring the terrarium plants for indoor mini gardens because there was a lot more wiggle room with lighting as most of them just need indirect light. As long as I am conscientious of watering, they generally thrive.

Air plants-

Air Plant in glassAir plants are the most versatile of all plants, for the simple reason they have no roots and take everything they need from the air. In our dry climate they require a spraying or dousing with water about twice a week in the summer, but once again, with no roots it is easy to gather them out of your mini garden and give them a quick wash. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors the possibilities are endless. More than making gardens with them you can put them in shells, driftwood, rocks, hang them on wires and much more.

Mini gardens make very personal and unique gifts and can be purchased at very reasonable prices. I always encourage people to bring in their own items to put in their gardens such as rocks they’ve collected, shells from memorable trips, anything that they would like to display and not just have tucked away.

Mini garden with white stonesMini gardens are perfect for house warming parties, dinner parties, garden parties, sympathy gifts and so on. If you would like to learn more about the work of mini gardens, drop by my shop sometime and we can chat.

I know for myself, mini gardening has been a breath of fresh air and a splash of green in the midst of the drought we’ve all been dealing with this year.
I also find it can be a very enjoyable hobby for those of us who are not currently capable of the physical demands of outdoor gardening. You can set up your pot, some soil, your plants and other goodies on a table or TV tray and comfortably create!

Here’s to some lush green in the midst of all the dry brown!

Happy Growing!

Amy Duke is the owner of Solstice Gallery located at 40282 Highway 41, Suite 3, in Oakhurst. Visit on Facebook or stop in at the Gallery for more advice and ideas.

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