The magic of fairy gardens

After a recent trip to an area garden center, my two young children became fascinated with the idea of building a fairy garden. My children, like many of us, were excited about the idea miniature, magical people with wings lived among us and we could attract them to our garden. And, while I know the evidence that fairies exists is "slim to none," I thought the idea of creating a garden for my children to play with and explore was magical enough to create a new garden.

Fairy gardens are basically miniature gardens with added touches that give the appearance of tiny creatures residing in the garden. Some people plant their fairy gardens in secluded areas, at the base of a tree, or even in a container. Then miniature decor is added to provide a feeling of magic. This can be a small fairy cottage, miniature furniture, gravel walking paths, or even a miniature water feature. Really, fairy garden ideas are only limited to your imagination.

Once you have decided on what kind of fairy garden you would like, you need to decide on the design of your fairy garden. We chose to place the garden in a corner of the yard as opposed to using a container. There are walking paths, a swimming pool (a large saucer from a pot), sweet fern shrubs for a deciduous forest, a juniper shrub pruned to look like an aged conifer tree, Irish moss, creeping thyme, and other miniature flowering ground covers. The next step for the garden is creating a fairy house. We'll use natural dried materials, such as grasses, moss, white birch bark, and twigs, to decorate the house.

However you decide to build your miniature fairy garden, whether it be a woodland fairy garden or a fairy garden of your own imagination, the important thing to remember is that fairy gardens are all about having fun. Get crazy, get silly, just keep it small and I guarantee any fairy (or child) visiting your garden will appreciate your efforts. I find my garden being used by race cars, dolls, and other toys. And, each night we chat about whether or not the fairies are enjoying the garden as the children fall asleep.

Anne Lenox Barlow has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. She can be reached by e-mail at a.lennox.barlow@gmail.com.

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