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Friday, September 22, 2017 Vol. 81 No. 5

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Cover Story
Giving the Gift of Miniature Gardening
| Christina Salwitz
>> Published Date: 10/29/2013
Tiny sales really add up to make a giant difference during the holidays. Are you taking advantage of the market for gardening with miniatures for a holiday profit bounce?

If you have just the right miniature gardening accessories, then all you need are the plants that provide a great “hook.” Think about those small holiday plants that elicit the “Awww, isn’t this cute?” response. For example: 2-in. poinsettias, Norfolk Island pines or mini cyclamen, not to mention all of the other plant possibilities available. Then encourage tons of imaginative ideas about how fun it would be to add teeny-tiny little lights, a little Santa, a sleigh, presents … What about terrariums or glass globe Christmas ornaments that can house a complete tiny world, custom-made and living? 

Can you hear that cash register ringing yet?

Five Ways to Turn Miniatures into Holiday Sales
1) Host a Miniature Gardening Class or Class Series
Miniature gardening classes are fun and easy for small groups. As few as five to six or as many as 15 people are guaranteed a fun time in this class. Demonstrate how to create a holiday-themed container garden using miniatures in front of the class. This gives the full attention to the instructor and a huge sales opportunity to demonstrate different techniques, specialty pieces, themes and container ideas. Price points of $10 to $20 per person can provide a great introductory class.

A one- to two-hour long class can cover a wide variety of topics:
  • Container choices
  • Great plant choices
  • Care and maintenance
  • Matching the design with horticulturally correct plants
  • Which accessories do/don’t work
  • Size and scale of accessories
  • Changing out pieces with the seasons or new themes
  • If you choose to create a series of classes, take advantage of each and every holiday throughout the whole year. Just imagine Mother’s Day!
  • Don’t forget to include a care sheet for after class.

2) Hold a Miniature Gardening Workshop
A workshop is a wonderful way for a small group to have a hands-on experience with miniature gardening. It also gives you many opportunities to theme a workshop for slower traffic at certain times of the year. During the holidays, you have the added bonus of providing an opportunity for a customer to create a one-of-a-kind, handmade gift or party centerpiece, too. The key with this workshop is to charge a fee in advance of the workshop to ensure attendance during a busy season. Even though enthusiasm may be high, distractions on the calendar can be a problem. After you’ve worked out your materials costs, $45 per person is a low-end price for basic miniature gardening classes; some IGCs have charged as much as $85 to $100 per person for smaller groups and still have waiting lists! 

In this class you can really take the idea to the next level with the creation of mini-patios and mosaics. In a longer class, be sure to serve festive themed snacks, too!

3) Weekly or Monthly Miniature themes on your Web Page or Newsletter
This idea is full of possibilities! Just imagine how creative you could get with miniature themes. Not seeing it yet? Okay, here goes: trees; fruits and vegetables; spring flowers; water features; patio furniture; garden tools; lawn; BBQ and picnic; pets; statuary; garden art; gnomes; houseplants; fantasy; children’s themes; team sports; wildlife; farm; under the sea; Asian style; bonsai; country garden … it’s endless!

4) Post on Social Media
Miniatures are famously popular on platforms like Facebook (there is even a Facebook Group called “Miniature Gardening for Retailers”), Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Pinterest is booming with crafty, creative ideas for gardening with miniatures. Just imagine how your nursery could become a local resource for the Pinterest addicted in your area! Pictures from your classes and workshops would be wonderful advertising, as well as showing all of the amazing talent you’ve cultivated.

5) Make a How-To YouTube Video
It’s fast and easy to create videos these days. Just imagine the crazy ways your nursery can promote holiday gifts created from the heart and created just for that special person! Set it to music, create a skit, get the guys involved in making one, too—this could be a social media HIT! You could even invite your customers to create a video demonstrating their own creations, as well. Make it a contest.

Make this holiday season your most festive and captivating one yet by adding the enchantment of living miniature gardens as displays, centerpieces or DIY classes that range from country kitsch, sophisticated and sassy or themed to suit your IGC or hometown. As your fans for miniature plants and accessories grow, so will your holiday sales. GP

Christina Salwitz, a container designer and horticulture industry speaker, runs The Personal Garden Coach in Renton, Washington. She can be reached at personalgardencoach@comcast.net.

Award-winning miniature gardening expert Janit Calvo shows you how to craft your own beautiful tiny gardens with lush plantings, stylish accessories and perfect pathways in her new book “Gardening in Miniature.” Choose the best plant varieties, learn the secrets of scale of illusion and design, and create a unique miniature world.

The book can be found through publisher Timber Press or at Amazon.com and makes a great add-on sale to miniature gift purchases.

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