By Evelyn Alemanni
Miniature gardens, sometimes called “fairy gardens,” are a lot of fun to make. They can also test your talents as a garden designer, as well as your knowledge of plant growth habits. You can plant miniature gardens in containers and use them as table decorations indoors and out. Or plant them right in the ground as part of your other garden beds.
Good to Know: If you go the container route, remember: Bigger is better. Consider enlisting the services of an old birdbath or fountain. Just be sure to drill holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Any container you choose should be deep enough to accommodate plant roots. Fill the container with a quality potting mix containing time-release fertilizer.
When choosing plants, the rules of “large-scale” outdoor gardening apply to mini gardens. Choose plants with similar light and irrigation needs, and consider the available light in the mini garden’s final location. For example, if you plan to display the garden indoors, landscape it with small houseplants.
Good to Know: Unless you make an extra effort to source true miniatures, the plants you use will grow and need regular pruning. You might consider your mini garden a place to grow plants until they’re large enough to transplant into their final spots.
Miniature plants to consider include miniature African violets, cyclamen, and hostas; low-growing grasses and shrubs; plus ferns. Other plants to consider are those with tiny leaves, such as wire vine (Muehlenbeckia spp.) or Sedum ‘Angelina’. It’s worthwhile to take a few minutes to research the plants’ ultimate size so you can keep the garden in scale.
I had lots of fun creating a mini garden using only succulents. To make the mini garden, I took cuttings from plants growing in my garden. You could also get tiny pots of succulents, or a succulent combo bowl and take it apart.
Of course these cuttings are going to root and grow much larger, so I consider this piece more than a garden. It’s a propagating bed that in a few months will yield lots of new plants to move into other containers or garden spots.
Some people like to stretch their imaginations and create dream environments. You can add scenic elements such as scale models of houses, people, animals, tools, and more. Augment with pebbles, dried materials, rocks, sticks, moss—whatever makes you smile when you look at your mini garden.
In this garden a bouquet of tiny flowers on a table mimics the real thing in my garden.
The fun is in the building, so when the plants grow too large for the space, move them to another container. Replace them with new tiny plants to once again enjoy creating a miniature world.