Dwarf plants: make a mini garden
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 colour 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 stream bed, 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 personalise 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 colours, and heights to add interest to the garden.
• Water containers every day, especially the first year, and fertilise 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