One of my favorite early childhood memories is searching for acorn cups for the little creatures who inhabited the imaginary world in the woods behind my house. I dug caves for them under the moss and built “log” cabins and fences out of twigs.
I won’t say how long ago that was, but I’m still building habitats for the imagination, and you can, too. They’re called fairy gardens, miniature gardens with suggestions of minikin residence. Scale varies according to preference and they can be grown in the ground or in containers. Choosing containers allows for gardens with tropical species to be moved inside for the winter months.
Create Your Own Fairy Garden
1. Decide on a theme. Do you think your fairies deserve a formal environment or would they feel more at home down on the farm? Maybe you have something exotic in mind like a Gothic manor look with a couple of gargoyles or a tropical paradise with a beach.
2. Choose a location. A sunny patio or a cool, shady corner? Location will become key when it comes to selecting your plants.
3. Design the garden. Sketch out your ideas on paper. Include “hardscape” such as a patio space for your fairies to lounge on, features such as fencing or an arbor, and perhaps a water feature like a pond. Also determine the location of your “softscape” plantings.
4. Pick a container. Just about anything you can plant in is suitable but keep in mind you want enough depth to maintain soil moisture, particularly in a sunny spot, and enough surface area to accommodate all the elements you envision.
5. Select the plants. Once your design is roughed out, choose plants that look mature in miniature, borrowing from the art of bonsai and miniature gardening. Rather than a patchwork of color, variations in height and texture among similarly-hued plants tend to give a more natural, cohesive look to your fairy garden.
6. Dig in! As with any container plant, ensure good drainage and use a quality container soil mix. For a true-to-life appearance, use full-size landscaping techniques such as flagstones (mini of course!) set in sand or a dry creek bed beneath a bridge. Using your plan as a guideline, have fun installing your tiny garden.
7. Accessorize. It’s tempting to go overboard with the trinkets, but use a light hand. In accordance with your theme, select a few small-scale pieces. Tuck something away only noticeable upon close examination. Your fairy garden will be guaranteed to inspire lots of smiles.
Miniature Plant Suggestions for Your Fairy Garden
Stonecrop sedum (sedum)
Elfin thyme (Thymus praecox arcticus ‘Elfin’)
White moss thyme (Thymus praecox arcticus)
Corsican mint (Mentha requienii)
Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
Irish or Scotch Moss (Sagina sublata)
Angel’s tears (Soleirolia/helxine soleirolii)
Ornamental strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
Creeping veronica, Speedwell (Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’)
Dwarf Trees & Shrubs
Green Mound Juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘nana’)
Dwarf Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)
Satzuki Azalea (Rhododendron indicum)
Ginkgo Maidenhair (Ginkgo biloba ‘Maidenhair’)
Resources & Supplies
Two Green Thumbs Living Miniature Gardens (www.twogreenthumbs.com)
Miniature Garden Shoppe (www.miniaturegardenshoppe.com)
Brussel’s Bonsai (www.brusselsbonsai.com)