Fairy gardens are a variation of the miniature gardens which have been creating quite a buzz for a couple of years now. Fairy gardens seem to look best in a container of some sort although of course it’s also possible to create one as part of your main garden or as a feature in an existing area. You can buy a beautiful tub, half barrel or similar, or get creative with Belfast sinks, tin bathtubs, old tyres or large flower pots- there’s no right or wrong container!
What makes up a fairy garden? It’s really only limited by your imagination, but in general a fairy garden will consist of a container, miniature plants either in pots or planted, moss, crystals, stones/pebbles, and perhaps a fairy house or two. It’s also possible to incorporate ponds, rivers, and accessories- there are manufacturers producing a wide range of amazing items to fully accessorize your garden, from stepping stones and seats to swings and garden implements. Generally speaking the more unique the better- try beachcombing or countryside walks to find unusual objects, wood, rocks, fossils etc which might come in useful.
It’s a good idea to have everything ready near where you will site your garden before you start so you don’t have to carry your creation to its new home after you have made it- depending on the construction they can be quite heavy!
If you are using a deep container, you can half fill it with polystyrene chips. They will aid drainage and stop it being too heavy. Then you need a layer of good qualify potting compost almost up to the top of the container, but gently packed down as you will be planting into this. Bear in mind that if you’re using polystyrene it will sink a little under the weight of the garden so bulk it up higher than you would expect.
I usually select low growing plants, such as creeping thymes, aubrietia, alpine dianthus, London pride, stone plants, creeping rock plants etc. A good hunt around the alpine and herb section of your local garden centre will help- ask a member of staff for help if you’re unsure, but plants which do well in thin soil will often be a good bet.
If you are making an indoor garden, you can use the same plants, but you will need to water them more often, or you can use tiny toy ones, fake ones, mini candles, dolls house accessories or any little things you like.
Next you want to position your house or houses, and then remove them so you can dig your plants in around where the houses will be sited. You may need more compost to firm everything up after you have put your plants in.Now the fun starts! I use moss I dug up from my garden to represent grass, as real grass grows too tall, but you can use fake grass or fake moss- this is often better for indoor use. Fake moss is available from good model shops.
I use fish tank gravel for paths as it’s small and colourful. I have also collected shells, pretty stones, tumbled glass and crystals and other little bits and pieces to go along the edge of paths. Try using a small bowl or cup tea to make a pond and put garden furniture on the moss to make an outdoor scene. Small mirrors also work well as ponds and to reflect light into the garden. You will view your child’s Lego and dolls house furniture in a new light: as something to value rather than go up the vacuum! I find that sparkly things like glass beads really add to the magic.
As you get more confident, there are little bits of furniture you can make; seats, arches etc. There is a bridge from Fiddlehead Fairy Gardens which is fabulous, and doesn’t have to go over a pebble stream, it can just be a feature in the garden. Fairies are not fussy! My son likes to make rope ladders to join different levels of garden.
You can use fake flowers too so there is year round interest- many nowadays are so realistic that it’s hard to see the difference. If you’re using a fairy house, you can either make one, or purchase one- there are many models available nowadays in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs.Some of the houses are hollow, so you can put battery tea lights inside and the windows will light up. But you have to remember to turn them off or the batteries will go flat very quickly!
Everything you’ve read so far can be accomplished by quite young people- making a fairy garden is a great way to spend time with your son or daughter as it really encourages their imagination and it’s a way of letting them participate in an activity often reserved for adults. This early exposure to gardening is educational- it teaches them about plants, planting, and a little bit about design- all good experience and knowledge for future life.
Once you have made one garden, you will want more, and you’ll get more creative and imaginative with the decorating. One of the great things about fairy gardens is that, unlike a real garden, if you get bored it’s simple to tear it up and start again. It’s a whole new world.