Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

A miniature Independence Day garden

by Timber Press on June 27, 2017

in Craft, Gardening

Photo by Kate Baldwin.

There are a number of ways to represent summer in a miniature garden, and a special Fourth of July–themed miniature garden evokes a summertime gathering filled with food, family, and fireworks.

When Independence Day comes around, you know that summer is here and it’s time to kick back and enjoy the warm weather, barbecues, and summertime fun. When you plan your garden design, leave enough space for entertaining and cooking outdoors. The garden will create the backdrop for your scene, so don’t scrimp on the trees and plants; rather, fit the accessories into your design in different ways, like starting with a larger plot or container and making a bigger patio area for a table of four and a barbeque. Make use of an empty spot in between plants for a wading pool or tiny sandbox, or decorate the trees with summer-themed garlands or ornaments hung on branches.

Backyard Design Ideas
A miniature backyard garden design can be as simple as a big ‘Jacqueline Hillier’ Dutch elm planted with a lush lawn of Irish moss, or it can include perennial garden beds, paths going to and from, and big shade trees in the corners. Create a courtyard with a wall of tall trees at the back of the garden and layer shorter plants in front with smaller plants around the sides and front to frame the scene nicely. Design a formal courtyard with a permanent patio made from square tiles locked in with Mini Patio Mix; or sink small pieces of flagstone right into the soil, flat side up, for a casual or rustic-looking patio. Either way, make the entertainment area big enough to eat, dance, and be merry.

Independence Day, like any special occasion, can bring back fond memories for you and your family. Good times that were spent in your grandmother’s backyard, playing horseshoes or croquet, can be replicated in miniature for everyone in the family to recall. You may be tempted to reproduce the scene exactly as you remember it, or perhaps use a favorite photo to inspire the design, but consider simplifying when you translate it to a living miniature garden. When you are drawing on a memory or photo, choose one to three major components to reproduce in miniature to begin the project, then include more details as you come up with solutions for them.


A backyard bash isn’t complete without a comfortable chair or two. Adirondack chairs are quintessentially American, making them perfect for this project. This idea can be used for many other themes as the motif, stars, and colors can easily be interchanged for other motifs for other celebrations, as long as the icons on the armrests are recognizable in silhouette form. Look for stickers that are used for scrapbooking to find suitable candidates; you can find them at your local craft store or online.


Photo by Kate Baldwin.

Tools and Materials
Wood Adirondack chair
Wood hardener
Disposable metal or glass container
Disposable paintbrush
Paintbrushes, one medium, one small
Acrylic paint in cherry red, white, and navy blue
Paint tray
Star stickers
Craft knife
Clean, soft rag


Wipe any dust or dirt off the chair. Pour a little wood hardener in the disposable container. Using the disposable paintbrush, paint the entire chair with the wood hardener, covering the top and bottom, and painting in between the slats. Let dry. Using the medium paintbrush, apply a coat of white paint, covering the entire chair once again. Because the star stickers will be placed on the armrests of the chair and the front of the seat, make sure these areas have a solid coat of paint on them. Let dry.


Place the star stickers on the armrests and backrest of the chair. Use a craft knife to help you position them in a straight line. Use your fingers to press down firmly on the stickers to make sure all the parts of the stickers are adhered to the wood. Using the smaller paintbrush, apply a coat of blue paint over the stickers, and paint any other parts of the chair that you would like to be blue. Let dry.


Using the small paintbrush, paint every other slat red, so that you have an alternating pattern of red and white on the seat and backrest. Let dry. Apply another coat of blue and red again if necessary to get a solid coat. Let dry.


Slide the tip of the knife underneath a sticker and gently lift it off, being careful not to pull the paint off . Repeat with the remaining stickers. Touch up any white paint with the small paintbrush. Let dry. Send the invitations and plan the menu.


Janit Calvo is an artist, miniaturist, gardener, author, photographer, and entrepreneur. She gardens with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and is surrounded by her award-winning miniature worlds of all shapes and sizes in among her full-size gardens. Pioneer of the miniature garden hobby and the founder of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and the Miniature Garden Society, Calvo graduated with honors from the Ontario College of Art and Design. She has won awards at the Seattle Miniature Show and the Soriculture Garden Art Show. Find out more at miniaturegarden.com.



Click image for a look inside this book.


Previous post:

Next post: