Category Archives: Miniature Gardens

Miniature Conifers – Just Right For Miniature Gardening and More

It has been quite some time since we’ve had dwarf shrubs and tiny pots of conifers available, and, with the rise in popularity of miniature and container gardening, I decided it was time to see what might be worth getting in for fall miniature gardening projects. Truthfully, these aren’t just for that purpose but can also be used in containers, and all of them are suitable for the garden too.Miniature Garden with Dwarf Evergreens

With this in mind I placed the order with a very reputable grower in the Northwest. And, even though they’re from quite a distance both in miles and climate, I’m hoping these selections will work here as well. I worked with the salesperson to find the best possible plants for the Southeast, and these cultivars are interesting and not too expensive if you’d like to give some a try.

The day finally came when they arrived, and each one was unpacked and watered, then placed in flats and set into the nursery. I found time the other day to put together a couple of miniature gardens as examples of what can be done with these diminutive offerings. The small evergreens really add a sense of reality to a miniature landscape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido';Cotoneaster microphyllus 'Thymifolius'; Ilex cremate 'JerseyJewel'; Juniperus communis 'Miniature'; Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Thowell'Here also are pictures of a couple of groupings I pulled together to give you an idea of what is available as of October, 2014. In the first picture, left-right and front-back, they’re as follows:

Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’: This tiny dwarf Chinese or lacebark elm should only grow 1″-2″ a year. It’s much sought after for bonsai, trough, and miniature gardens, and its bark exfoliates with age. It may grow to just 1′ tall over a period of 5 years.

Cotoneaster microphyllus ‘Thymifolius’: Thyme leaf cotoneaster. This tiny version has red berries just like its larger relative, and it’s branches can be trained upright to form “trees” in a miniature garden.

Ilex crenata  ‘Jersey Jewel’:  A holly with unique structural form, this one is also good for rock gardens.

Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’: A slow-growing ( 2″-4″ a year) bluish-green juniper with a narrow growth habit. Also good for rock gardens in part shade. Mature height is 3′  and 1′ wide.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Thoweii’: A narrow upright specimen, it will grow roughly 3″-6″ a year. It matures into a fairly narrow tree. Errant branches can be pruned to maintain the spire-like shape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R; Juniperus pfitzeriana 'Golden Joy'; Juniperus horizontalis'GoldStrike'; Taxus cuspidata' 'NanaAurescens'; Chmaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea'; Juniperus communist 'Gold Cone'; Cryptomeria japonica 'Twinkle Toes'Interesting choices, right? Here’s another grouping, again L-R and front-back:

Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Golden Joy’: This juniper has a spreading habit and will get larger, increasing in size by 3″-6″ a year. Still, an interesting choice for a container until it outgrows it; then find a place for it in the landscape.

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Gold Strike’: Vivid yellow foliage on this spreading juniper makes quite a statement in a container. This one will need protection from our hot summer sun; give it some shade, especially in the afternoon. It’s a slow-growing, spreading dwarf juniper with a mature height of roughly 6″ and ultimate width 6″ in 10 years.

Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’: The new growth of this dwarf spreading (3′-4′) selection of Japanese yew is golden, hence the name ‘Aurescens’. Growth rate is estimated at 3″-6″ a year and ultimate height is 2′. Best grown in part shade, where foliage color will be a bit more chartreuse. Please be sure you have really good drainage if you try to grow this yew since it won’t tolerate wet, poorly drained soil.

Left: Juniperis communis 'Miniature' Right: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido'

Left: Juniperis communis ‘Miniature’ Right: Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’: New growth on this golden dwarf Hinoki  cypress  is a vibrant yellow, and the growth rate is 3″-5″ a year. It’s a beautiful specimen for containers or the small garden, rarely growing larger than 3′, with an upright, irregular, pyramidal habit.

Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’: Eventually this juniper will reach a height of 3′-5′ but has a narrow growth habit of only 1′-2′.

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Twinkle Toes’: A selection with very tight, congested foliage, it has a conical shape and irregular habit. An interesting specimen at its mature height of 2′-3′.

I don’t know about you but more than a few of these are now on my “want to grow” list, whether it’s in a miniature garden,  a pretty pot, or placed in a special spot in the landscape. Best of all, the pots are really small, so there’s no major hole digging to do!

We will have these in stock until they sell out; so, if you’re interested, come in and take a look soon. If you miss out on this selection, next spring will be your next chance!

More Miniature Gardens

A succulent miniature garden...

A succulent miniature garden…

The miniature gardening trend continues, and we’re sure having fun with it. From tiny gardens in glass terrariums to a saucer planted with driftwood and a place to sit along the “water”, these little gardens spark the imagination of gardeners of all ages.

Tiny temptations...

Tiny temptations…






Two 20-something women walked in the other day, and one of them immediately spotted the miniature garden display. “Oh, look!”, she said excitedly. “Aren’t these cute?”  Her friend was skeptical. “Uh, sure…”, she answered. “Whatever you say.”

Tending a tiny garden...

Tending a tiny garden…




Not swayed by her friend’s decided lack of enthusiasm, the first started looking through the miniature accessories, oohing and aahing at each tiny piece.



A cozy spot to sit...

A cozy spot to sit…

“I want to make one of these gardens!”,  she declared. Her friend walked closer and looked at the pieces she had in her hand. “You should have a bench.”, she stated. “And look at this tub with wine bottles in it. That would be really cute, wouldn’t it?”

As I listened to them, it became quite clear that the skeptical one (I was beginning to call her this in my head.) was being completely drawn into the fun of creating a tiny world with her friend.


A pumpkin patch under a windmill...

A pumpkin patch under a windmill…

I walked up and started talking with them, asking if they had any questions about the miniature gardens.

The first one again said she wanted to make one and asked if I would help her because she thought it would be so much fun.  “Of course.”, I said. “It’s summer and pretty slow, I think we could put something together for you today.”

On the other side of the bridge...

On the other side of the bridge…

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the garden she made with a lot of helpful suggestions from her friend, but I can tell you it turned out really well. A red Adirondack chair, the tiny tub with iced drinks, a beach along the water, some succulents planted  in strategic places, and – Voila! – a miniature garden completed.



A broken pot is home to morel mushrooms...

Little chickens…

Soon new miniature garden accessories will be arriving, including tiny gourds and white pumpkins for fall gardens…and scarecrows too.

Meanwhile, the pictures here show some we’ve planted this summer using a windmill, tiny chickens (Everyone loves chickens!), little wooden chairs, driftwood benches, morel mushrooms, and more.

Maybe it’s time to let your inner child out…or create a miniature garden with your children. You just might get caught up in the magic like my friend, the skeptical one at the start of this post!

As with any container garden, these are designed to last as a true garden. Be mindful of the amount of light your garden will receive when you choose your plants. There are many  houseplants that work well together, including fittonia, Neanthe bella palms, and many ferns. Succulents work well in higher light and will need less water. Haworthias, aloes, crassulas and sedums are just a few of the many succulents you can use. Have fun!

Miniature Gardens As Centerpieces…

tiny cloche...

tiny cloche…

In a few short weeks Mountain Brook’s  Little Garden Club, a charter member of the Garden Club of America, will host a regional zone meeting and flower show. It will take place April, 2014, and a lot of folks are involved in planning this important event. Members of GCA clubs will be attending from the surrounding states, so there will be a lot of visitors!

Miniature Garden





Miniature Garden

I’ll be assisting with a number of others in the “passing” of the horticultural exhibits – clearing them for entry into the flower show to be judged. I was very flattered to be asked and happy to help with this event, which has been two years in the planning.

Miniature GardenWhat does all this have to do with miniature gardens, you ask? Well, these tiny gardens have been very  popular the past number of years, and the garden club organizers decided it would be a fun thing to have on some of the tables for one of their meetings. And they turned to Oak Street Garden Shop for help.

The containers we chose are metal, and they will be wrapped with aspidistra leaves to make a “Ribbon of Green”, the theme of this year’s meeting.

These pictures show how some turned out. The miniature gardens are designed to continue living as a true garden, so plant material is chosen accordingly, with only minor exceptions.

imageBecause these take a great deal of time to make, I finally gave up on waiting for new miniature garden accessories I’d ordered since my deadline to have them completed was looming…but I still had plenty of fun things to play with. If you’ve ever made one of these gardens in miniature, you’re well aware how detailed and time consuming they are.

For some of the centerpieces I chose succulents, including haworthias and sedums, which work well for tiny plantings. Pilea ‘Aquamarine’ is a low grower with a great color; it just needs clipping regularly to keep it from overrunning its neighbors.

Miniature GardenTiny pots of ordinary houseplants also work in these gardens. Little parlor palms, ferns, polka dot plants and baby podocarpus make good companions, and selaginella is a pretty groundcover.

It’s nice to have different sizes of pebbles to create paths and larger stones to create “boulders”. Can you see the turtle sitting on one?

There’s still more tweaking to do (Just like a real garden that is never “done”!), and one more not even started yet…but that story is for another post. If you’re in the Birmingham area, stop in and take a look. They’re even more fun in person!

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Tiny Plants…Great For Terrariums Or Small Containers Too!

photo (6)If you haven’t noticed, terrarium plantings, miniature gardens and anything tiny seems to be the name of the game the past few years. Growers have taken notice and now offer a wonderful variety of plants for the smallest of indoor gardening opportunities.

Mini fittonia









Very little two-inch pots are just the right size for these starter plants. Some are quite easy to grow houseplants that are usually available in larger containers, and others are small succulents. Because of their diminutive size, it’s quite easy to incorporate them into mixed terrarium plantings or miniature gardens.

An assortment of tiny houseplants...

An assortment of
tiny houseplants…

Small ferns are perfect for terrariums....

Small ferns are
perfect for









Rex begonias appreciate the humidity in a  terrarium....

Rex begonias appreciate
the humidity in a

For terrarium plantings, choose from many easy to grow moisture loving plants. These include ferns, fittonia, Rex begonia, aluminum plant, pilea, strawberry begonia (It’s a good perennial groundcover in the shade too!), creeping fig, and others that enjoy high humidity in an enclosed environment.







Small succulents and other houseplants, like jades and hoyas, are best used in open containers and miniature gardens.  They offer a wide range of colors, shapes and textures and are quite easy to take care of too. The hoya pictured here in the open glass container has been growing for months, quite happily!









More Miniature Garden Magic

miniature world...

miniature world…

Oh my goodness…last week the first shipment of new miniature garden pieces came in – and what a delight! There will be even more in the weeks to come, but now we will content ourselves with brand new miniatures of weather vanes, picnic tables, tiny metal wagons and even the smallest bottles of wine for an early evening garden party..let your imagination go!

it's a garden party...

it’s a garden party…

We have everything you need if you’d like a fun summer project with your kids…one of our customers had a great idea – she purchased containers, pea gravel, little rocks, plants and miniature garden accessories; then she put everything in the middle of a table and let the kids go to town putting their own miniature garden/landscape together. It is really so much fun, and even more so if you let them use their imagination…it’s amazing what kids can come up with!

Billy's zen garden...

Billy’s zen garden…

We even came up with a miniature garden for the owner, Billy Angell, pictured here – it had a temporary “cookie stack/cairn” because he is a cookie fiend! It’s really a very simple garden, using a stone bridge and Japanese lantern to create his “Zen” garden…this was in the middle of a hectic spring at the shop and we felt he needed a little calm in is life! We added a little rock, and, using a sharpie, labeled it “Billy’s Zen Garden.” It made him smile – and isn’t that the point of these little gardens?

don't they look like the real thing?

don’t they look like the real thing?

We’ve also gotten in some very detailed “concrete” urns, “retro” red tables and chairs (Remember the ones your parents or grandparents had?), a sweet pair of frogs sitting on a cut log piece, a “stone” table with stools, and sets of tools, rakes and brooms – after all, you have to tend the garden and sweep the paths, right?

imageIf you’d like to have us put one together for you we have containers here, or you can bring something of your own in and we’ll create one for you. All we ask is that you give us ample time to put your miniature garden together – they may look less time consuming to make than a full size garden, but we promise you the devil is in all those minature details!

imageSome plants that can be used for gardens that will be used outside are many low growing sedums, echevarias, hen and chicks, euonymous standards (They make great trees!), tiny bromeliads, air plants and miniature jade plants to name just a few…indoor gardens (or terrariums) can be planted with fittonia, selaginellas, many small ferns, palms and more…there is always something in the greenhouse or in the nursery to use!

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