About the Mini Garden Guru
- Name: Janit Calvo
- Birthday: May 30th
- Favorite Color: Green
- Favorite Plant: Yes
- Favorite Miniature Scale: Yes
- Favorite Things to Do: Gardening, Mini-Making, Growing Flowers, Ikebana, Painting, Sculpting, Baking, Crafting, Decorating, Napping, Playing with Kitty, Hanging out with good friends, Going to the beach, Reading, Walking…
- Most-Favorite Thing Besides Husband & Dog: Flowers
- Favorite Escape: A good fiction book and a lounge chair surrounded by my garden and my dog, Kitty.
A Little About Janit Calvo:
“I’ve been researching, sharing, writing, growing, speaking, publishing, photographing and creating this hobby since 2001, (full-time, since 2006.) After attempting to start a garden art business where miniature gardens were only a part of my linke – I quickly learned that is was the miniature gardening that really captivated every one that saw them. So, the journey begun…”
Above: My book tours took me to some weird gigs. This photo is from a Pottery Barn demonstration. I was a bit panicked for material to use with their line so I came up with “Miniature Cache Pot Gardens” that became a chapter in my second book, the Gardening in Miniature Prop Shop book. See it up in the store here.
More About Janit:
“I’m an artist, graduated with honors from the Ontario College of Art & Design way back in the last century. I paint and I sculpt using multi-media. I enjoy lamp-making, ikebana, sewing, cooking, baking and traveling just about anywhere.
I’m a full-sized gardener and have a flower & perennial garden to escape to – and yes, I have a big in-ground fairy garden which challenges me too. (It’s the weeds! Arg!)
I’m a miniaturist and one of these days I swear I’m going to do another dollhouse room box. I’ve been a miniature lover since I was a child, my mom and dad would bring me home dollhouse miniatures from their travels which I still have.
I’m a writer, photographer, website designer, content creator, graphic designer, influencer, online retailer, inventor, customer service specialist, publisher, speaker, demonstrator, promoter, copywriter, administrator, shameless self-promoter as well as a sister and an aunt. (Whew! I think I need to nap after that paragraph!)”
Above: Me with the awesomely talented Linda Maida, of the Washington State Federaion of Garden Clubs and then some. We set up a miniature garden installation a the Old Soldier’s Home in Orting, Wa. in 2017. The lasted for several years until the pandemic. We’re still not able to access the garden due to the safety of the residents. (March, 2022)
Blogging for You!
“I started blogging by writing a weekly garden column for the West Seattle Herald way back in 2005-2006, when I was still figuring out how to garden in miniature. While I enjoyed having a weekly garden column, I had to leave the Herald and focus on developing the hobby and my business.
So, I started my own blog, The Mini Garden Guru Blog, in order to have a place for all my finds, ideas and discoveries on this new and wonderful hobby.”
Above: Working with the beautiful and talented Kate Baldwin who is responsible for many of the wonderful photographs in both of my Gardening in Mniature books.
Some of my Work Experience:
“A lot of my work experience before unearthing this new business overlaps just a few areas that were helpful in building and serving this hobby of Gardening in Miniature:
The Hobby Industry: My father was a collectible publisher who grew The Charlton Press from two books, to over 40 different titles, some updated yearly, by the time he sold ‘The Press’ in 2015. Dad was never one to let us sit around, I was put to work as a mock-layout assistant at the age of about 8 years old. I had to glue-down bits of copy on sheets of paper for the type-setter to generate a first draft of the books.
I worked at the Press off and on throughout the next 4 decades where I learned desktop publishing, commercial photography, graphic design and database publishing. I also learned how to compile information and make a book from scratch.
The Garden Industry: I’ve been in the garden industry as a gardener, a container designer and as an assistant manager in a local garden center, here in Seattle, Wa.
The Restaurant Industry: You might think, ‘What does working in the restaurant industry have to do with building a hobby?’ People. Working as a waitress and bartender, I learned how to engage people, how to treat everyone with respect, how to deal with bullies and how to make people laugh. As a prep-cook and dishwasher, I learned the value of hard work, team work and tolerating uncomfortable conditions.”
Above: Janit with husband Steve. Thankfully Steve is into miniatures and gardening as well. Steve has an extensive collection of 1/6 scale miniatures, that are easier for him to manage with this big hands.
“I’ve had people break into tears and hug me and thank me for introducing them to mini gardening,” says Janit.
“It’s like they never realized Mother Nature can be a really helpful and nurturing part of their daily life.”
Still Growing Strong
The miniature garden hobby has endured some setbacks throughout the years despite my trying to steer the ship, so to speak.
In 2015 when my first book was trying to launch the hobby, the miniature garden message got mixed-up with the fairy garden trend by the garden and gift industry trying to make as much money from the trend as possible. All you saw on the store shelves were crude fairy garden accessories and out-of-scale, unrealistic miniature garden items.
What “they” never realized is that it is a hobby. Miniature gardening was always “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” It was never a trend per se, and nor did anyone but my fellow miniature gardeners realize that it was a pastime that can be enjoyed for years and years – all year long.
Above: Janit with her Kitty, her one-true-four-legged-love and “the best girl in the world.”
“I’m a dog lover – they totally ‘get’ me.” :o)
Keeping it Real:
“But most importantly, I’m human. I won’t mislead you with polished photos of a fake life just to look good on social media.
I like to keep it real – just like the hobby – I find it’s way more fun that way. I’ll tell you I kill plants. I won’t tell you something just to make a buck. I’ll tell you the truth about gardening and this hobby.
While we all grow our own worlds, we are still all in this world together.”
Above: My BFF. We named her ‘Kitty’ because we had a cat named ‘Puppy’ at the time. Yes, it was confusing in the household while we waited for Kitty to grow-out of being a puppy.
“I research what works then test it out… and keep doing what is working,” says Janit.
“I have a ‘create-as-you-go’ style that leaves room for lots of creativity and innovation that I have yet to see any place else, with this new hobby.”
ABOVE: This is me in 2012, just after delivering the manuscript for my first book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World to the publisher. The book has sold almost 40,000 copies and has been translated into three different languages: German, Turkish and Korean. (Actually it’s in 7 different languages if you count British, Australian and Canadian along with the English version… :o)
Above: One of the perks of getting published was a couple of gigs at the huge Epcot Garden Festival in Orlando, FL.
Above: Sometimes we get out. Lol! Us at the Monroe State Fair a few years ago.
If it wasn’t for my long-time customers and their infinite support of my work, I wouldn’t be here.
Just a few blog posts that highlight my personality,
my outlook on life and my obsessiveness with this
hobby of Gardening in Miniature:
(Or, it could highlight my need for a looong-overdue vacation… :o)
21 Years of making the world a little better, one miniature garden at a time! I guess if anyone is asking how long it takes to establish a new hobby, I think we have found the answer. While it's not everyday a new pastime emerges, you can still join us in spreading,...
I received an unusual amount of kudos from this letter that I wrote to my Mini Garden Gazette subscribers the day Queen Elizabeth II passed away so I thought to included it on my blog. I know the Queen means different things to different cultures but, for this...
~ If you've been following me for a while, you have probably noticed that I've taken a step back from my websites and my online stores this past year. I didn't write new blogs every single week, I didn’t search far and wide for new plants and accessories like I...
How to Make the World a Better Place: Vote With Your Wallet, Part II I have written previously about using your wallet as your voice as to what products you want to see on the store shelves – and leaving the poorly made crap behind to show that, as a consumer, you...
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNzfZvM5Xso Well, well, well!! It's about time, isn't it? We've been so busy building the new MiniatureGardenSociety.org website for the last two years that it feels really, really good to finally be doing the things I wanted to do with...
Woot! We're doing the happy dance! Over 37,000 copies in print - but we're still a-ways-away from this new hobby being as common as knitting. The Biggest Revolution in Garden History is Still Growing Slowly Into the Heart of America Our latest order from our publisher...
Day 24 :: Milestone - This one took some time to figure out because there were many milestones on this bumpy road. Like the first time the mighty USDA came to inspect our backyard because we ship miniature trees & plants out of State. Or how about the time a...
Digging Deeper with America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center, TwoGreenThumbs.com, Part 2 This was an Instagram challenge this past March called #MarchMeettheMaker and I found it was a great way to tell you more about what we do here at America’s favorite – and...
Day 1. Brand Image. This has been our accidental avatar for years now because I took the shot for no reason but to document that brickwork. It was the perfect fit for social media because stands out and it's a perfect way to show what we do here at...
"Rock Island" is a dream. There is a chair next to this display where you can get eye-level with the scene and enjoy all the tiny details. See below for the list of fish and critters. "If it's not built from scratch, I can't call it art." - Caveman Al Anacortes,...
This is Steve and I in front of our 1/6 scale (GI Joe/Barbie size) miniature garden that we created last summer (2015.) Steve loves this scale because his hands are too big for the smaller sizes. Me? I'm a sucker for anything miniature! Lol! An Open Letter for...
Our display at Sorticulture this year highlights the gardens I put together for The Book. ARCHIVES - I think it’s safe to say it. It was probably safe to say it last year – and maybe the year before that too: We’ve made it into the garden history books. And it only...
The first group shot of Miniature Gardens by Two Green Thumbs, 2002 [From 19/11/2011] ~ In celebration of 10 years of miniature gardening, here is a visual trip back to the turn of the century. Did I make mistakes? - I made quite a few. Did I get weird looks when...