Sunday, February 2, 2020

Fairy Gardens

It's almost spring, so it's a perfect time to think about fairy gardens. Two of our granddaughters have spring birthdays, and their creative mom decided to help them (and their brother) create fairy gardens as part of their birthday joy. For us, it was a four-part process, and the children were involved in all of it:

Choose a container: 
This can be easy or hard, depending on what you're looking for. There are a bazillion pots out there within a huge cost range. Our goal was to make fun gardens at a moderate price, so we used pots that I already had. And I think I purchased them initially at thrift stores. You want to be sure that the pot or container is large enough to handle the plants you choose plus the fairy decorations. However, soil alone is heavy, so it is also important to consider the weight of the container once it is filled. There are great inexpensive plastic or resin pots that look like stone or terra cotta. That is what we chose to work with:

Choose plants:
Fairy garden plants need to stay relatively small, so check on growth height and spread when you choose your plants. We went to a nearby nursery to find ours, but I have noticed since then that both Lowes and Home Depot have fairy garden sections, and they may be less expensive. (Also, Kroger, our grocery store, recently had small succulents for $1 a plant. Super price!) We tried to choose plants that gave us variety--color, texture and height. You want enough greenery to fill but not crowd your container. (Leave enough space for the plants to grow, and if things start to look too crowded, it's fine to prune a bit. These pictures were taken right after the gardens were created, and by the end of the summer they filled in even more.) Be sure to leave plenty of room for your accessories. Also consider light and water requirements. Two of our gardens had similar plantings, but we chose succulents for the third. Mixing them might have been a mistake because succulents require much less water.

Notice that this garden has ferns, plants that droop over the edge, flowering plants, and taller plants at the back to add dimension. Check for variation in color and texture as well.

Choose accessories:
This is the fun part, and you can be so creative. We found many of our fairies, structures and other accessories online, but we also found them at the dollar store, the hardware store, and thrift stores. (I spotted a darling mushroom at Hobby Lobby this week--a Christmas tree ornament that was 90% off.) The hunt is half the fun. In the gardens above, look for charming houses, bridges, a metal trellis, benches, woodland animals, stepping stones, and a pebble brook, The male of the group chose gnomes instead of fairies and succulents instead of leafy greens. The result was delightful, and of the three gardens, this was the only one that survived the winter cold. The others will need to be replanted:

Again, notice the variation in plant color, size, and texture (and the adorable hedgehogs.)

One of the cottages has little solar panels and lights up at night. SO FUN!:

Put it all together:
We bought a large bag of container potting soil and went to work. We had the children set out their design by arranging the pots and the accessories on top of the soil before we did any digging. That helped us create a pleasing composition without having to dig up and rearrange. Once everything is in place, it might be helpful to snap a reference picture so you can check back as you plant.

The children loved both the process and the finished products. And they are excited to re-imagine their plantings this year. It is fairy garden magic.

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