Jurassic Park In A Jar! DIY Miniature Gardens Kids and Adults Will Love - Book Giveaway

Miniature Gardens Meets Hard-Core Horticulture
The Guide to Making “Fairy + Mini” Last

(Minneapolis, MN) Katie Elzer Peters – acclaimed garden author and horticulturist – is set to delight gardeners with her miniature garden primer in her latest, Miniature Gardens: Design & Create Miniature Fairy Gardens, Dish Gardens, Terrariums and More – Indoors and Out (Cool Springs Press, January 2014). A complete test of garden skill and craft, Elzer-Peters takes readers through imaginative processes alongside concrete, DIY steps. 

From creating paths and focal points to manipulating the soil of a terrarium, tricks of the trade are offered up on every page. Where there is often little room for error, Elzer-Peters offers years of learned and honored tricks with the understanding that mini gardens are as much science as it is art.  Where “enchanting” and “itty-bitty” meet hardy, perennial gardens, Miniature Gardens has the know-how to create inspiring fairy-scapes and mini sets that last. 

Elzer-Peters starts her course with the importance of scale and moves to right plant, right place with chapters dedicated to specific projects with corresponding plant lists and care instructions. With the goal of creating a designed landscape that encourages a viewer’s eye to move rather than settle, an Elzer-Peters mini garden is a perfect lesson in scale, texture, and charm.

“While accessories are fun, we are in fact gardening. So let’s pay great attention to right plant, right place,” says Elzer-Peters.

The thriller, spiller and filler mantra that Elzer-Peters brings to her home landscape is executed in small scale in fairy, terrarium, and dish mediums. Readers are treated to a long list of textured and smooth plants with vertical or trailing growing habits that have proven effective in small scale gardens. Along with inside scoop on what to avoid and what to buy in the trendy mini garden sections of big box and nurseries, Elzer-Peters answers all questions.

“Miniature gardening is such a trendy topic right now, but those of us who have gardened in miniature for years have so many secrets to share and pitfalls to avoid,” says Elzer-Peters. “Yes there’s accessories and charm and “fairy” – but bottom line, this is gardening.” Miniature Gardens is a guide to building it right, developing a landscape, and making it last.

Quick Canning Jar Terrarium
Ideal for a desktop or a child’s nightstand, this canning jar terrarium is easy to make and to care for. It’s a great school project.


  • Rinsed pea gravel
  • Activated filter carbon
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Selaginella plant
  • Plastic wrap
  • Wide-mouth canning jar and lid
  • Animal figurine

Quick Canning Jar Terrarium Step-by-Step

1. Layer pea gravel in the bottom, activated filter carbon on top, and 1 inch of potting soil over that.
2. Use the terrarium tweezers (or a dinner fork) to plant the Selaginella. Make sure its roots are in
the soil.
3. Water the terrarium until you can see water running into the pebbles.
4. Place the animal figurine next to the side of the jar.
5. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap and cover the jar with it.
6. Place the lid ring on the jar and screw it down.
7. Use sharp scissors to cut the plastic wrap so that the edges aren’t visible under the lid.
(Using plastic wrap instead of its metal lid allows more light to reach the plant and a better view of the plant.)
5. Add decorative moss around the plants using the terrarium tweezers. Once all of the plants are planted, it’s hard to reach all the way into the bottom of the vase.

Care and Maintenance
This terrarium will dry out faster than a fully enclosed terrarium but more slowly than a regular houseplant.

You can see, through the glass, when the soil has started to dry out. It will be lighter in color. That’s when it’s time to water.

Ideal terrarium plants like high humidity and low light. Table ferns, polka dot plants, Selaginella, Croton, Alternanthera, and Ficus plants all fare well in terrariums. Because terrariums are so small, look for plants in 1-inch pots or plants in larger pots that can be split into smaller pieces.

Use a sterilized seedling mix or potting soil in a terrarium to prevent fungal problems. A small bag from the houseplant section of the garden center is enough for this project. It uses a few cups of soil, at most.

Where the Dinosaurs Roam Terrarium Project
A terrarium filled with tropical plants is the perfect jungle setting in which to keep a dinosaur or two. While you can’t time travel back to the age of the dinosaurs, you can bring a little bit of the Jurassic  era to your desk or dining room table. Moisture-loving houseplants grow best in this fully enclosed terrarium.

• Preserved reindeer moss
• Polished stones
• Ceramic animal figurines
• Handmade ceramic sculptures
• Plastic or resin mushrooms
• Plastic decorative swirl picks

A container that looks large when not filled with plants and soil suddenly has little room for accessories when planted. Look for accessories, including animal figurines that are less than 2 inches long for larger terrariums and ½ to 1 inch long for smaller terrariums. This container is a clear candy jar from the craft store. It is 8 inches tall and 7 inches in diameter.

Where the dinosaurs Roam Terrarium Step by Step
1. Fill the bottom of the container with ½ to 1 inch of rocks.
2. Pour activated charcoal on top of the rocks until the rocks are barely covered by the charcoal.
3. Add the potting mix on top of the charcoal. Start with 1 inch of potting mix. This doesn’t seem like much, but it is easier to start with a little, than it is to add more potting mix and dig holes.
4. Place the plants. If you’re using accessories, such as the dinosaur, you can set them in among the plants to gauge the effect see if you want to move the plants around prior to planting.
5. Remove plants from pots and plant them. The bottom of the plant rootballs can be touching the rocks. Use a spoon to fill in with soil around the plants.

View the Garden from All Sides: Even in such a small terrarium, you can make separate little scenes. Ideally, you’ll use accessories to make the terrarium interesting and inviting from all sides.
6. Add decorative mulches such as preserved reindeer moss or tumbled stones.

8. Water the terrarium. This is the trickiest step. It’s easy to over water and then difficult to get the terrarium to dry out. Start by watering so that the top inch of soil (which might, in this case, be all of  the soil) is about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. You can always add water.

9. Place the cover on the terrarium, set it in bright indirect light, and enjoy.

7. Position the accessories.

Care and Maintenance:
Enclosed terrariums have to get some light so that the plants can photosynthesize, grow, and keep the water cycle going. Otherwise the plants will rot. You’ll know if the terrarium is getting enough light when you can see some water droplets (condensation) on the inside of the glass. If the plants start to rot or become mushy, the terrarium is too wet. Open the cover and let it dry out for a week or so. It could take a while to find the right balance of water for the system to reach equilibrium. I have one terrarium that I haven’t watered for two years. It can be done.

Author Bio
Katie Elzer-Peters is a horticulturist and author of gardening books, blogs, and articles. A resident of Wilmington, North Carolina, she also teaches classes and runs workshops dedicated to gardening and garden writing. She has an MS degree in public garden management and has published several acclaimed books with Cool Springs Press.

Available: January 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1591865759
$22.99 US
a Rafflecopter giveaway US ONLY


  1. My mom and I are obsessed with Fairy Gardens. I never thought to make a terrarium and create one inside! <3 this idea!

  2. I would like to make a dish garden with my granddaughter


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