by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
Fairy Gardens have become increasingly popular in the home garden. While evidence of a true fairy existence is slim to none, it can be a new project with your young child or your grandchildren. I never thought much about Fairy Gardens until we saw bunches of them at our Texas Master Gardener Conference this past May in McKinney, Texas. They were all over the place with vendors selling them along with items to make your own Fairy Garden.
Fairy gardens are basically miniature gardens that, with their small plants, houses, outdoor structures, and furnishings, give the appearance of a tiny creature residing in this garden. People sometimes plan their garden in a small, secluded area in their regular garden. But many miniature fairy gardens are planted in containers. These gardens are normally filled with whimsical items that add to the feeling of magic. You don't have to believe in fairies to have a fairy garden in your yard or on your deck or patio. Children will love to help plan, plant, and care for their own fairy garden.
Before you begin, you need to decide on what type of fairy garden you would like. One idea that I have seen pictured is to build a woodland fairy garden. This type of fairy garden is normally installed at the foot of a tree in a shaded part of the garden where you can use forest themed items like ceramic leaves, a foot bridge, moss, and place a door on the trunk of the tree.
Other ideas might include a flower fairy garden where you could place a small "cottage" surrounded by flowers and grass with other fairy garden decor added. Also you could add a fairy garden at the edge of your water feature, placing a "wee" boat or dock. The ideas are endless and only limited by your own imagination. Just have fun with it.
While you can have your fairy garden in your yard, I feel they are best planned and planted in large or small containers. This allows you to move your garden out of inclement weather, and it can also be enjoyed from wherever in the garden you choose. If you decide to plant a fairy garden, the important thing to remember is that fairy gardens are all about having fun. Get a little silly, keep it small, and enjoy the "prospects" of new inhabitants.
If you choose a container to plant your fairy garden in, make sure it has sufficient drainage from the bottom to allow water to escape and not keep your plant's roots constantly wet. If you plan to move your garden around the yard or inside when cold weather comes, you might want to choose a lightweight pot. Terra cotta pots are good as they drain well, but large ones can be heavy. I have seen fairy gardens built in the large terra cotta saucers which were really cute, but make sure they have a drain hole for the water. I like old terra cotta pots or old metal containers that had a previous use. I wish we could print all the pictures we took at our conference to show you many "homes" for your fairy gardens.
When choosing the best plants for your fairy garden, it is very important to buy plants that fit the scale. Herbs like small-leaved basil, sage, thyme, and marjoram have been suggested. If your garden is in the shade, Baby Tears, Elfin series of impatiens, small begonias, and Miniature Hostas work well. The Miniature Hostas may be hard to find in our area. For a sunny garden, pinks, miniature roses, and succulents would work well.
You may think this is all a silly way to garden, but I was amazed at how cute and fun they were. Craft stores and many nurseries carry the "items" to help you build your fairy garden. Get your imagination rolling and HAVE FUN.
As always, feel free to call the AgriLife office, 432-498-4071 or 432-686-4700 with your gardening questions.