Tiny Urban Gardens

June 8, 2010 by

Altoid box gardens

Good green things come in extremely small packages. Marque Cornblatt on Gomi Style, a do-it-yourself blog, posted some wonderful wee gardens planted in recycled Altoid and other tiny candy tins: “These tiny succulent cuttings and small herbs seem to be thriving in organic potting soil. I water them a few times a day.”

Among the diminutive delicacies: A single cutting in organic soil covered with black stones and a tiny bonsai in a promotional CD case. “They will likely stay small with such a small volume of soil,” comments the mini-horticulturist. “They should be misted a few times a day but don’t overwater.  A light covering of stones will help keep the soil moist. Perfect for the office.”

Cornblatt contends he really knows very little about plants. “However,” he says, demonstrating he knows a little, “all of these small succulents are native to northern California and are very hearty. I plucked them out of my yard like weeds. They require minimal care and watering. The Bonsai were chosen based on small size. I have one that is a Pine, and a few others I don’t know. I also grew cat grass and other sprouting seeds. The only plant that didn’t last long were the herbs, because they need to grow–the succulents and Bonsai are content to remain small.”

The benevolent gardens of tin.

Mini basil, above, to go with your cherry tomatoes for a bite-size Caprese salad!

Want to go even smaller? Consider planting some thimble gardens, like Margaret Toomen of Ressurection Fern did:

Carrying the teeny theme further, Toonen gathered some smooth stones and felted them with mossy green wool after which she incorporated some cladonia specimens into the fiber:

Wear your tiny garden anywhere you go. A hand-cut piece of faux moss made of latex (but you could use the real thing) sprouts backed with foam has been “planted” into the bezel settings of these sterling silver lever-back earrings (below) by Adorn Jewelry from Seattle, Washington.

For a bit of green luxury at your fingertips, don this verdant ring via AudryLaine from Asheville, NC:


  1. Victoria Lyon said:

    What a fun idea for children to do! Mine used to make little fairy houses out of found organic items, like hollow logs, or little lean-toos of sticks, or tiny tee-pees made from giant leaves. These could be container gardens for the fairy front-yards!
    Love the moss-earings too.

    — June 9, 2010 @ 08:02

  2. Urban Dirt Girl said:

    Now I thought my garden was tiny! This is too cute. M

    — June 10, 2010 @ 10:52

  3. Georgia said:

    A great use of my tin and box collection.

    — June 10, 2010 @ 16:27

  4. Win a Lechuza Self-Watering Container: Enter Our Think Outside the Planter Box Photo Contest! Pingback said:

    […] Altoid box gardens. Marque Cornblatt on Gomi […]

    — April 23, 2011 @ 11:20

  5. peter said:

    “I did find it increasingly difficult to control the balance of nature in the rather unnatural backyard environment. In the urban yarden the main problem may be a serious slug and snail problem, a result of the lack of natural predators. Hedgehogs are good slug/snail predators, apparently, but unfortunately I don’t think they can scale 2-metre high brick walls.

    Even in gardens that have predators, there are always too many slugs and snails. At least if you have a smaller space you can comfort yourself with the fact that you probably have a smaller number of slugs and snails . . .

    One organic idea I’ve read about but never tried is to use beer traps, basically saucers of beer at strategic points, which attract the slugs, and they apparently then drown. Drowning in beer is probably one of the more pleasant ways to meet your end, I guess. I never tried beer traps myself, as disposing of dead slugs in stale beer didn’t really appeal. Life’s hard enough. In my current garden I’ve found collecting them up on damp nights works as well as anything else. Please don’t use slug pellets, which are nasty, noxious, and not necessary.”

    — October 10, 2011 @ 06:15

  6. asian said:

    The owner of this small courtyard garden is a musician who spends much of his time travelling, he therefore needed a low maintenance scheme, but with the â??wowâ?? factor to welcome him home.
    We needed to incorporate his bespoke smoker/barbecue and a large table with benches for his frequent entertaining.

    — March 6, 2012 @ 05:12

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