What could be more magical than a secret corner of your garden devoted to nurturing a community of flower fairies? Just as terrariums have regained popularity, so have fairy gardens–fantasies in miniature that inspire the imagination about a hidden world of precious garden folk.
Reading the series of books by Cicely Mary Barker, an English illustrator known for her illustrations depicting fairies of the trees, garden, and wayside, is the perfect stepping stone to the world of fairy gardening. Full of beautiful drawings of impish fairies and delightful poetry, these books are sure to engage young gardeners. Check the PHS McLean Library for books about the fairies and gardening with children.
In the Fairy Garden Handbook by Liza Gardner Walsh, she encourages children to make a fairy garden not only to have fun, but also to learn about gardening. In the book’s description, she affirms that the “popularity of fairies and fairy houses has soared, as has the growing movement to get children interested in outdoor activities such as gardening. This new how-to book for parents and kids combines the best of both worlds. It includes basic information for beginning gardeners, such as soil preparation, planting, and watering, then branches into appropriate categories for every fairy gardener: making miniature gardens and terrariums that are just the right size for fairy friends, butterfly and hummingbird gardens to attract these flying friends of fairies, rock gardens, water gardens, and wind chimes and prisms to add music and light. Sprinkled throughout are bits of fairy lore and garden wisdom. Written for children, or anyone with a child’s heart, and filled with color photographs, the Fairy Garden Handbook will turn curious kids into green thumbs in no time.”
Pinterest is a huge source of inspiration for creating your fairy gardens, either in a container, terrarium, or garden bed. While typical fairy furniture is made of all-natural materials–moss for a carpet, an acorn top for a chair, bark for a bench–there are many retailers that sell miniature furniture and other accessories. PHS Meadowbrook Farm has a variety of adorable pieces, including the ones seen in the picture above. What fairy wouldn’t love a chandelier, a comfy bed, and a treasure chest of gold? An Internet search will overwhelm you with possibilities.
When choosing plants for your fairy garden, think small. Alyssum, thyme, lobelia, and forget-me-nots are all delicate and diminutive. Visit a garden center and let your young gardener choose a plant or two while you explain the difference between an annual and a perennial. Fairy gardens should be planted in quiet spaces, away from foot traffic, lawn mowers, and the neighborhood cat. Above all, they should be created in a space where young gardeners can play, create, and use their imaginations while they provide a beautiful living space for the fairies in your yard!