August 15, 2014
The Enchanted Garden: Miniature Fairy Gardens
Over the past few years, fairy gardens have become quite popular. Maybe the interest was spurred on by the Harry Potter series, the ever present Disney fairies or the more adult mystical characters found in Avatar, the Hobbit or the Game of Thrones. An interest in the fairy folks has always run through Celtic history. Since medieval times Celts have been trying to attract fairies to their gardens for good luck. I have a Celtic print in my kitchen. It is hanging on the wall in the direction of my backyard gardens. The Celtic script reads: “Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance.”
With a fairy garden, you are creating a natural world on a miniature scale. It is a secluded place where fairies feel comfortable going. They are very secretive. Your garden can be inside or out. It can contain non-plant material, such as a miniature bench and table or simply plant material, leaving the rest to the imagination always hoping the fairies will visit.
Your plant material inside or out should be on a smaller scale with very fine detail. You might want to choose terrarium or dish garden plants. They are smaller and come in a large variety. You can easily find selections of ferns (my favorite fairy plant), African violets, arrowhead vine, creeping fig, flame violet, ivy, nerve plant, peperomia and the polka-dot plant. Moss can be added on top of the soil to create a green carpet giving a woodland appearance. Remember, sun or shade dictates your selection of plants. Once established, your plants will require periodic pruning and clipping to preserve the miniature look.
The inside of a shallow pot makes for a great container. If you want to go all out: a planted Wardian case probably creates the best allusion of a separate little world. Outside, find a secluded space that a fairy may easily happen upon. A shaded spot where you can incorporate ferns will do nicely, but don’t rule out a sunny rock garden: fairies like to hide behind rocks and warm themselves in the sun.
Now comes the really fun part for many and that is the non-plant material. Adding fairy pieces is like decorating a doll house. Pieces can be bought as a set or individually. There are pieces that recall a location such as campers and sand castles. There are pieces that represent nature such as turtles, rabbits, birds and snails. There are little houses, bridges, ponds and even hammocks. There are pieces that are seasonal: pumpkins for the fall and birdhouses with holly for the winter. You can easily change the atmosphere of your garden by simply changing out some fairy pieces.
A few months ago, we set up a 4’ x 3’ foot fairy garden in the greenhouse at the garden center. I had so much fun creating it. It did feel like playing with a dollhouse and that never gets old. It’s a great project for mothers and daughters, sisters, friends or just you and it also makes a lovely gift. Often our younger customers (or is it the fairies?) will rearrange our garden and I’m always surprised in the morning at the new layout.
So go ahead and take the plunge, build your fairy garden and let the fairies dance.
Marilyn Fanning | Greenhouse Sales & Design