runner succulent - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffAs my grandma used to say, “Good things come in small packages”. And with this thought I launch into the realm of diminutive gardening.

There is something comforting about micro-horticulture. Perhaps as a counterpoint to a trend during past decades in agriculture, I am seeing a growing interest in small-scale gardens. This could be attributed to the density of urban life, but I also sense a desire among a younger generation of gardeners to be realistic about what can be grown effectively in limited space without compromising the health of our planet.

Traditionally, “living big” has been the carrot, dangled to many of us horses; the perceived ideal that was being drilled into our collective psyche by mainstream media, advertising and peer pressure. When it comes to size; cars, farms, subdivisions, stores, houses, you-name-it, have all reached levels of absurdity that my grandmother could never have imagined. Unfortunately the message is still out there…but many gardeners are bucking the trend with some clever ideas.

It is clear that in urban centers around the world residents are getting into little plants. Not just bonsai; but small potted specimens both inside the house and outdoors. Popular players in the vegetable kingdom are tiny bromeliads, mosses, succulents, cacti, and herbs. On a side note, I suppose that in the animal kingdom one might draw a parallel with the increase in popularity of small-breed dogs like Chihuahuas and Pugs…or not. Other miniature subjects are terrariums, wall-pockets, and dwarf (determinate) tomatoes.

Many gardeners have their own mini-specialty. Some of my cohorts collect miniature orchids, some work with bonsai; some grow potted low-bush blueberries, some garden within a miniature railroad!

I like the idea of a small, simple water garden in the form of a shallow pot topped with duckweed by my front door. A collection of sedums or sempervivums? Repurposed footwear as planting media? Whatever they are, we’d like to hear about, and see pictures of your little ones.