It’s a Small World
Create a miniature garden with fascinating dwarf plants.
Some plants are tiny jewels. To appreciate them you must stop, bend over, and look closely at their delicate flowers and leaves. The intricate detail will astound you.
You can use these small herbs, miniature conifers, and diminutive perennials to create an enchanting miniature garden. The plants are the same as those used in garden railroads, bonsai, and small rock gardens. These imaginative miniature worlds—complete with tiny houses, furniture, and other objects—look right at home in trough gardens, unique containers, raised beds, or a quiet spot in your landscape. Miniature gardens take very little pruning and little time to water.
Terra cotta, concrete, or lightweight hypertufa containers all work well for miniature gardens. A miniature container garden differs from an annual-filled container because it uses dwarf perennials and conifers that stay in the container from one year to another. The container must have drainage holes, the potting mix must drain well, and the plants should have similar sun and water requirements. For example, don’t combine moisture-loving plants such as astilbe with herbs that prefer dry soil.
Pick a unique piece of miniature furniture or an interesting plant with unusual texture or color to use as a focal point. Then build a tiny landscape around it, adding plants and other objects that are similar in scale. Add small pebbles for texture, and fine mulch (such as cocoa bean shells) to help keep soil moist.
Place your miniature container garden on a deck or bench to bring the small plants closer to eye level. If your container is large enough, you can add a few pieces of dollhouse furniture, stones to make a path, or an elf or two to watch over the plants.
Within a larger landscape
You can also plant a miniature garden within a larger garden or a raised bed. This gives you room to incorporate tiny buildings, fences, walkways, statues of fairies or elves, and even water features. Small pebbles become a dry streambed, medium pebbles become stepping stones, and larger pebbles become hills. Use toothpicks, flexible twigs, or balsa wood to make tiny benches. You can buy clay or porcelain replicas of houses, bridges, people, and other miniature figures. Some gardeners personalize their garden with children’s toys because children love to play in the miniature garden world. Other enthusiasts create entire villages by adding new areas each year.
• Use a soil mixture that drains well so roots won’t get waterlogged. Soil must drain quickly but retain water.
• Build your miniature landscape around a focal point, just as you would in a large garden.
• Check labels before buying plants to make sure they aren’t too big for the miniature landscape.
• Use plants with a variety of textures, foliage colors, and heights to add interest to the garden.
• Water containers every day, especially the first year, and fertilize on a regular basis. Prune lightly, if necessary, to keep each plant in proportion to the entire planting.
• Protect the container in winter, if you live in a cold climate, by covering it with straw.
• You’re limited only by your imagination—have fun and think creatively about materials, plants, and design.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 11:22 AM
This is a fabulous way to have an herb garden at hand that is more than just a regular herb garden. Can't wait to make one!
Saturday, July 03, 2010 3:06 PM
this is so neat, I will have to make one, but need the base. I have one like this one, but use it for the squirrels, small birds and chipmunks. It is easier for them to drink out of or even bath. But will get one made. Also am making a fairy house this summer. I just use wood. I love the idead on how to make furniture too. thanks for the ideas.
Monday, July 12, 2010 8:02 AM
I love this idea. EPCOT has a nice display with trains as the focal point. I look forward to making one of these nice displays of my own for sure!
Thursday, July 15, 2010 3:19 PM
I LOVE this idea! Going to try this at home :)
Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:16 PM
My local nursery, Ray Weigands in Clinton Twp, MI has an awesome display every year. I have seen it change in the last two years. Absolutely beautiful, I am going to try to create a small one with hypertufa trough recipe in this months magazine.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010 10:01 AM
This is so cool, I will have to give it a try.
Sunday, August 08, 2010 11:56 PM
Our county master gardeners have a fairy garden in their large public gardens and have created a castle from stones, paths, pools, you name it. It is beautiful.
Saturday, August 14, 2010 7:45 AM
Can you give an example of what types of plants and flowers would do well in a tray that small?
Sunday, August 15, 2010 6:47 PM
What a brilliant idea. I don't have a lot of room for my garden and have been trying to think of ways to create a small garden... A miniature garden. Brilliant!!
Friday, October 08, 2010 1:18 AM
I lost this issue and I qwas hoping to find in the archives the complete article so I can make one. I ned help with the names of the plants that I can use. Thank ypu
Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:16 AM
I am starting a large vocal point/garden in my front yard similiar to the one above and am looking forward to putting a stream w/gravel or stones of some type in it. I am using my large Lantana as my center to this landscape idea as it is above my new flower garden. Then the water will flow slowly down into the
flower garden. Now I just have to decide which way I want to go
in building the water feature. It won't be too large just a medium size that will flow on both sides of the Lantana. Don't want to drown it!!! Maybe I will start the flow below the Lantana...any ideas???
I love this idea of the small container garden,,it is an inspriation and I look forward to completing my larger version.
Happy Fall to All,
Sunday, February 06, 2011 1:56 PM
I read somewhere in a magazine about a very cute tire swing. just take some twine and a tonka truck wheel and you have a tire swing! hang it from a tree-like twig/stick, put it in your fairy garden, and you have a little oasis!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 4:30 PM
Bonsai plants would look great in this setting. :)
Saturday, March 05, 2011 6:59 AM
Great Idea, My grandaughter will enjoy a fairy garden.
Saturday, March 26, 2011 6:02 PM
I have a small castle made from tumbled stone that I made and now I know what I am going to do with it!!! Love this idea!!!!
Friday, April 01, 2011 11:42 AM
last year i planted blue mouse ears with blackcurrant ice columbine
in a container but this idea is going to take my dwarf plants including fern leaf dicentra to a whole new project thanks
Monday, June 27, 2011 10:40 PM
i looked at the big picture and said i thought it said small world miniture garden i thought it was big till i moved down the page and was chocked to see it was small and to let you know it is alsome i always try new things and never thought of that thank you for shareing
Monday, July 11, 2011 11:21 PM
I can't wait to put this out in front of my apartment. I know the little kids will adore it :)
Thursday, July 14, 2011 9:48 AM
I planted a fairy garden this spring in anticipation of my Granddaughter's visit. I picked up a couple of fairies at the local $1 store and added a mix of annuals , Herbs, Perennials and small shrubs. I picked up fungi and moss in our woods and built an arbor of twigs. Needless to say she was delighted as am I. I also made a small Gnome garden in a pot in the shade of a tree. When my grandson is a bit older we may be planting a dinosaur garden. What a great way to get kids interested in the garden and spark your imagination!
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 3:20 PM
Great project for my sunday school class.I am a new member to the gardening club,I love to garden and I can not wait to try this.God Bless the mind that came up with this idea.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:47 AM
How do I get answers to the questions asked. For example; what plants to get for the fairy garden?
Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:08 PM
Awesome. I love this idea and cant wait to try it this spring.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 6:48 PM
what kind of plants should use in this kind of garden?
Friday, June 15, 2012 8:18 PM
I made a Fairy Garden this year. It is sooo much fun. I actually hallowed the top out of an old stump that was low to the ground and filled it with top soil and stained the stump itself. I made pebble pathways between mossy areas, planted low plants and flowers, added furniture and a door. Its really cute...and there is a toad living in it. Could he be a Fairy Prince? I haven't worked up the courage to kiss it and see!! hahaha
Sunday, June 17, 2012 12:59 PM
love this idea got the perfect spot for it my grand daughter will love to help to
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 10:09 AM
Cute idea!! As I read this, I am sitting in my back yard looking for a place. Then I thought of a perfect place in the front yard. Can't wait to get starred.