The style of this garden—a backyard setting—will also lend itself well to holiday decorating, something else my grandma’s a pro at doing.


Main materials

Unable to decide whether to use the blue furniture or the white while at the garden center, I brought home both. (The blue, of course, ended up as the inspiration for the Wild Wild West Garden.)


  • Flower fence
  • Arbor
  • Terra cotta pots
  • Birdbath pick
  • Gazing ball pick
  • Bird’s nest pick
  • Bird house pick
  • American flag on flagpole
  • Resin frog
  • Lantern on a pick
  • Patio furniture
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Watering cans
  • Large planting urns
  • Fairy-sized small gravel
  • Gardening angel
  • Preserved sheet moss


This container is all wood and has drainage holes drilled into the bottom. It measures 16 inches by 16 inches and is 3 inches deep.

Arranging the plants and accessories in the container at the garden center helps ensure that you arrive home with just the right number of plants to fill the garden.



Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary


  • Miniature hosta
  • Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chips’
  • Sagina subulata, Scotch moss
  • Calibrachoa, Million Bells


  • Thymus praecox ‘Pseudolanuginosus’, woolly thyme
  • Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’, red creeping thyme
  • Muehlenbeckia axillaris ‘Nana’, maidenhair vine (also labeled wirevine)

Purple, green, and gray are the predominant colors of the plants in this garden. More interest is added to the garden with blue, yellow, and red accessories.
All of the plants in this container can take full to partial sun, including the miniature hosta. It’s a good idea to protect the garden from full hot afternoon sun, though. Several of the groundcovers are from the Stepables line of plants. The maidenhair vine is hardy to zone 7. It is possible that it will have to be replaced after a hard winter, but that’s okay, as they can grow fairly aggressively.

Potting Soil

Use regular potting soil for outdoor garden containers.

Grandma’s Garden Step by Step

Fill the container

Fill the container halfway with potting soil. Some of the plants are larger than others, and I find that it’s easier not to fill the entire container to start, but to fill it part way, plant the largest plants, and then add more soil before planting plants with smaller rootballs.

Arrange the plants

After filling the container with soil, arrange the plants and main accessories again just to make sure that you know where you want to put everything. Start by planting the largest plant (the miniature hosta) first. Then place the arbor and plant the wirevine. From there, you’ll be able to fill in the rest of the plants. You can see, from the design, that the arbor anchors one corner, while the rosemary stands tall in the other corner. Plants of varying heights are scattered in between.

Add extra soil

Add the extra soil around larger plants and ensure that they’re settled before planting the smaller plants. You can see the three woolly thyme plants staggered around the garden. This helps achieve the design element of repetition. Two plants will go behind and next to the arbor, while one will be planted across the garden from the arbor to lead the eye around the garden.
Tip: It’s handy to have floral wire and wire clippers when working with metal fences (to shorten them) and vines (to tie the vine to the
arbor or fence to start training it). Cut 3 /4-inch-long pieces of floral wire to use when anchoring the vine to the arbor.

Secure the vine

Secure the vine to the arbor. Plant the vine on one side of the arbor. Then, using bits of wire, tie pieces of vine to the arbor to encourage it to grow. You will have to continuously wind and train the wirevine. Unlike some vines, it doesn’t have  wrapping tendrils to secure itself to the arbor.

Pour the patio

I used fairy-sized gravel to make an informal gravel patio and pathway in the garden. This is where the patio set will sit and also where the wheelbarrow will rest.

Fill in around the plants

Fill in around the plants with dried and preserved sheet moss. You can buy this moss, prepackaged, at a garden center or craft store. Don’t use moss from your own garden unless you microwave it (for one minute on high) to kill any insects that might be living in it.
Moss looks like a groundcover and adds green to the garden while the other groundcovers are just starting to grow and establish themselves.

Plant some moss

“Plant” some moss in the miniature terra cotta pots to make the scene more lifelike.

Place the accessories

In a garden this large you can have several “scenes.” There’s a scene with the patio furniture under the arbor. A secondary “work area” showcases the wheelbarrow, small pots, and birdbath. In the corner by the rosemary there’s a small bench and a bird “nesting” in the Ajuga.

Tell a Story with Accessories

Although you can certainly buy whatever looks cute and put it in your miniature garden, a garden will have so much more meaning if you select accessories that tell a story about you or the person for whom you’re creating the garden.

Some gardens have fairies, but Grandma’s Garden has a gardening angel. I selected this one because the yellow flowers added color to the garden.

Grandma and Grandpa always had a flagpole and flag in their front or back yard wherever they lived, so I had to include one in the miniature garden.

No matter how small the garden, Grandma always had an arbor or trellis with climbing roses, honeysuckle, black-eyed Susan vine, and hummingbird vines growing on it.

Care and Maintenance

This garden will grow best if it remains outside. The Ajuga and hosta flowers will have to be removed when they’re done blooming. The thyme and Scotch moss will need to be trimmed to keep it “in bounds.” Grandma will have to keep training the wirevine so that it grows over the trellis.
The rosemary might or might not make it through the winter and may have to be replaced in the spring. The purple-flowering calibrachoa will have to be replaced (with the same or different plant) in the spring.
As the plants grow, this container will need more water, just as any normal outdoor container garden would. If the plants look droopy, or the top inch of soil is dry, the container needs water.