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fairy garden

(image: meryddian)

Fairy gardens create visual delight. But they’re therapeutic, too. Get back to your magical childhood with a fairy garden! Get some insight here.

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I have always been smitten with tiny things. My favorite toys when I was little were dollhouses. One was a single room about 9”x12”, a beautiful setting with wooden shutters, window boxes, and hand painted furniture. A friend crocheted a small area rug for it, and I found small baby dolls to bring it to life.

As a young adult in New York, I lived near a shop specializing in miniatures. I was determined to make a dollhouse out of any container I could find. One was the drawer from an old treadle sewing machine – long and narrow. It was thrilling to fill it with tiny furniture and artwork!

Magical playtime

There is something enchanting and magical about life in miniature. Who, as a child, has not gone out into the yard and pretended the scar on a large tree was a door to the home of an elf or fairy?

Whose imagination wasn’t sparked by the story of Thumbelina? A woman found her in the center of a flower when it bloomed. Her bed was half a walnut shell, the mattress was made of violet flowers, and her blanket was a rose petal. She rowed her tulip petal boat in a bowl of water on the kitchen table. The oars were single horsehairs.

I clearly remember this magic as a child! As we grow up and gain responsibilities, we forget those imaginative days. We can recreate them, though, with dollhouses and fairy gardens.

What is a fairy garden?

Fairy gardens are miniature gardens. Like a dollhouse is a tiny house, a fairy garden is a tiny garden. It attracts playful yet mischievous sprites to your yard for good luck, happiness and prosperity.

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My friend, Mia, has been making fairy houses since she was little. She hikes out into the mountains to gather leaves, twigs, seeds, fungi, flower heads and bark. Not only does she make houses, but she also makes fairy clothes! She fills the fairy house closet with clothing to help attract fairies to her yard. Her dream is to create a fairy city in the woods around her home.

fairy garden boy fairy

(image: Becca Taylor)

Making a fairy garden consists of gardening, art, fun, therapy, and magic. Stress dissolves by diving into the mystical world of fairies and elves. Putting together soil and plants is no different than gardening on a larger scale. The creative process comes into play to build a miniature landscape, courtyard or city. All gardening is fun, too!

Design

Fairy gardens use natural and recycled materials. Containers can be anything from teacups and broken clay pots to wheelbarrows, wagons and livestock watering troughs. As with all container gardening, the pot has to hold soil without rotting, and have drainage holes.

Containers are portable, and you can bring them in for winter. If you are lacking outdoor space in the city or an apartment, container fairy gardens are decorative additions to your home.

A fairy garden doesn’t have to be in a container, though. It can be built in your yard under a shrub or flower! Find a spot protected from the elements and animals. Consider, too, making several in containers and clustering them outside – a fairy community!

fairy garden 3

(image: Becca Taylor)

You can design an entire yard for your fairies or a small play area for them to frolic in. Your scene can be complete with a house, gates, arbors, a pond, a patio, trees, a swing, and pathways. Use marbles, pea gravel, dollhouse furniture, scrap lumber, and rocks. Get resourceful and creative!

Like Mia, you can build everything from natural materials. Some enthusiasts say this is the only way. I think shopping for unique, tiny home and garden items at second hand stores, yard sales and flea markets would be just as much fun! Scour craft and fabric stores that have a dollhouse section, too, or maybe you have a specialty shop near you.

Plants for fairy gardens

Your plant selection will depend on the size of your fairy garden. If you use a teacup, you will want a tiny, slow growing ground cover, such as creeping thyme, moss or sedum.

Just like landscaping your own yard, use color, texture, height and shape to create visual interest. Be sure to include scented plants! Add flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies for fairies to play with and ride on.

Your plants will grow and need maintenance. Cut back the scraggly ones, or replace them if they get too big. Remove dead and yellow leaves, and keep deadheading so flowers will bloom continuously. You may need to rearrange things every morning, since fairies like to knock things over and move things around overnight. They are mischievous!

I don’t wanna grow up.

When we are kids, we want to grow up. When we are grown up, we wish we had the carefree life of a child again. Fairy gardens will transport you back to a time when everything was magic, the world was full of mystery, and anything was possible. I have laid out a spot for mine tucked up against the rock garden.

Now it’s time to watch Peter Pan again.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.