Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature. ~Lynn Holland
The first and most important rule about Fairy Gardens is that there should be no fairies there. No figurines, I mean. Actual fairies are, of course, welcome. Some people will break this rule and that is their choice. I will not. It is traditional for Fairy Gardens to show evidence of the existence of fairies, to evoke hope that maybe one of the shy creatures is lurking nearby.
What you will need:
I am not a plant expert. I go to where the “terrarium plants” are and this usually works well for me. My favorite plants to use in Fairy Gardens are Baby’s Tears and things that are really leafy. I like to use a lot green plants and throw in a bit of color here and there. Bigger flowers have their place as well, though I don’t really use them. You want to play with the plants and see what you like. But make sure none of the plants need special soil or lighting. A succulent wouldn’t work in this sort of arrangement because they need special succulent soil.
The number of plants depends on the size of your planter and how much area you need for your fairy items. I use approximately a dozen plants per garden.
I also use moss.
However, the thing about this moss is it grows all over my yard, so I just dig it up and use it. You can also mix moss in a blender for a more even covering. You can buy moss, but it can be hard to find. I suggest looking anywhere that is not kept up well, empty lots or parks. Keep in mind that moss is a weed and will grow, a lot, if you plant it right. I use it for the affect.
You really can’t go wrong with this one. Choose something on the shallower side and make sure there is drainage for the water. I like round planters and window boxes so I can play with the plant arrangements.
I use moisture control potting soil mostly because I have a really bad habit of forgetting to water or over watering. This soil helps me keep my bad habits from destroying the plants.
You can use virtually anything to show evidence of fairies. Stones, tables, chairs, tea sets, bird feeders, paths, mushrooms, wheelbarrows, houses, benches, fountains, buckets, watering cans, toads, rabbits, turtles, gates, fences, gazebos, boats, fishing rods. Whatever you feel like. I like to go to less is more route.
I am lucky to have a local greenhouse that specializes in Fairy Gardens (shout out to TonkaDale!) so it is really easy for me to find these odds and ends. If you’re having trouble finding things at your local garden shop, try an arts & crafts store like Michaels, thrift stores, anyplace that might sell items for doll houses or other kitschy items.
Get you planter and fill it up with dirt! Fill it to the level you want your plants and items to be at but keep the bag close by. As you put in your plants in you will find you have excess dirt you’ll want to put back in the bag.
Layout your fairy items. It’s helpful to make a game plan and lay out where you want your items before you put the plants in. I then outline the patterns with my finger to give me a rough idea of where plants shouldn’t go.
This is also a good time to figure out what you want you your garden to be like. It’s nice to form a story. What are your fairies doing here? Are they resting, playing, reading, gardening, swimming, drinking tea?
In the top photo I am creating a tea time setup and in the bottom I am using blue glass stones to create a pond. The exact placement of your items will probably change once the plants are in place.
A lot of people like to create structures when building Fairy Gardens, building walls using gates, wire mesh, planks of wood, and other such items. I also like to shelter my fairy areas, using natural items and larger plants. In my tea time garden I used sticks to create a natural looking fence or wall around the table and chairs.
Plants! Most small or terrarium type plants come in their own individual containers. I like to place the containers in the pot and move them around like a puzzle until I find a combination I really like. Some decisions are easy. In my tea time pot I instantly decided to use the big red leafed plant to block in my table and chairs and give the fairies a little more privacy.
Once you’ve decided where your plants are going to go start putting them in your pot one at a time. Remove the plant from it’s plastic container by squeezing the bottom and catching it carefully by the top. Loosen the roots a little without breaking them by breaking up the dirt at the very bottom of the roots.
Now dig a hole in the dirt that is just deep enough for the plant to be at level with the dirt. Place the plant in the hole and fill in excess space with planter dirt. Do this over and over until you have exhausted your supply of plants or are happy with the look of it. As you place more and more plants, you will have a pile up of excess dirt from the holes. Just scoop this out with your hands and put it back in the bag.
Once all your plants are in, you can start playing with your moss and fairy evidence.
Pond Garden without moss or stones:
Pond Garden with moss and stones:
Finished Tea Time Garden:
Creating a simple, beginner Fairy Garden is an easy project that is a lot of fun and use a lot of creativity. The more you do it and the more effort you put into, the more extravagant your garden will look. The garden at my greenhouse:
But I like my simple, homemade gardens.
(Yes, I understand this post completely contradicts my blog title.)
(I know I said I was going to talk about why John Green is awesome today but I had a change of mind. John Green’s awesomeness will be the subject of Monday’s post.)