Some sources date the concept of fairy gardening to the late nineteenth century. Others insist that for centuries, when people still truly believed in fairies, special places for them were created in gardens or landscapes to ensure that the mostly benevolent creatures caused no harm to their human neighbors. Today, fairy gardens are wildly popular again, and can occupy a tiny glass jar with a bit of moss and welcoming seat for fairies to rest their wings, or be incorporated into a private corner of the garden, offering refuge for fairies and their human friends. Fairy gardening is especially enjoyable when children are involved, and they’ll certainly enjoy co-hosting a fairy tea party with you, complete with fairy delicacies (read sweets).
If you’re building your first fairy garden or an indoor fairy garden, select a container that is right-sized for your chosen location. You don’t actually have to buy a container. If you have a sturdy pot, box, or basket that can allow for good drainage, you’ve got a good start. Size depends on what you want to include in the garden and where it will be situated. Deeper containers with wider diameters allow plant roots to wiggle their toes and spread out bit more than narrower containers do. In any case, make sure there’s sufficient room for the plants as they grow. Don’t limit your imagination as you’re searching for the right container – an old boot, a suitcase, or glass apothecary jar might be just the right choice.
Then imagine a miniature garden complete with garden structures, furniture, and right-sized plants. Choose the focal point of your fairy garden, usually a cottage, a piece of fairy furniture, or a structure that might be found in an actual fairy village. Before you start constructing the fairy garden, carefully plan the structure and placement of plant and non-plant items in your container. You don’t have to be a talented artist for this; a rough sketch will help visualize your miniature masterpiece, and avoid including too much or too little in your garden space.
Decide where to place your garden container. Remember the light and moisture requirements for the plants in the outdoor fairy garden should be similar to the plants that will surround it. Make sure that indoor fairy garden plants will be happy with the light and humidity conditions that you can provide.
Choose plants that are easy to maintain at the appropriate scale for your fairy garden. If you lose one or two, carefully remove the plant matter and repot with a new plant. It happens to the best of fairy gardeners.
Add decorative accents to give your fairy garden an even more magical feeling. You can make your own, recycle odds and ends you’ve stored away for a special project, shop here at the nursery, or shop online. Since online purchases tend to be pricier, try to shop locally or make what you need, and save the internet purchases for very special, hard to find items. Your local fairies will appreciate your ingenuity and smart thinking.
Indoor fairy gardens are a good way to indulge your gardening passions during the colder months of year, when your outdoor gardens are dormant and most of the fairies have flown south to Miami (don’t be silly, of course they fly Delta) for the winter.
Whether your fairy garden lives indoors or outdoors, situating it in a secluded location provides a moment of magic and surprise when visitors just happen to discover it. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse or two of those elusive, delicate creatures.
Here are some links that have really nice photographs and technical advice to get you started on your new project.
These two sites share information about fairy history and traditions, including what types of plants, food, and sparkly objects capture the attention of fairies.
This woodland garden incorporates a single element, a fairy door, transforming this secluded nook into a magical place. (Photo © Barbara Helgason – Fotolia.com)