Garden Design

A Guide to Fairy Gardens

For centuries mankind has been fascinated by legends of fairies. While concrete evidence of their existence is, naturally, rather hard to come by, adding fairy gardens to our landscapes is one charming way we can participate in this centuries-old tradition. With a bit of fairy lore, some imagination, and just a small patch of space you can create a garden of whimsy, an open invitation to fairies to come and frolic.

Fairy gardens are miniature gardens that, with their small plants, houses, outdoor structures, and furnishings, give the illusion of tiny creatures living there. Fairy gardens can be any size or shape from the very small to larger, grander scenes at the base of a tree, under a shrub, tucked inside an old birdbath or peeking out from under a prized hosta leaf.

Book author Betty Earl, who wrote the recently released Fairy Gardens – A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World offers these tips for creating a successful fairy garden.

Site Selection
Celtic lore has it that if you provide a fairy house and leave it in a secluded spot in your garden, the woods, a park, or a place of honor in your home, you encourage fairies to visit and they just might show their gratitude by bringing you some luck and joy. You can plan a fairy garden for whatever space you have, large or small, sun or shade, in damp woodland or a colorful flowerbed.

Design
First, will your fairy garden be indoors or out? In the general landscape or confined to a window box? Outdoor fairy gardens can be larger and include a greater diversity of plants, but a more limited choice for weatherproof accessories. Indoor fairy gardens, on the other hand, can be enjoyed year round, are easier to maintain and are not affected by weather.

Theme
There are many styles and themes for fairy gardens. Do you think your fairies might feel more at home in a beach setting, down on the farm or just a simple garden plot? Maybe you feel they would rather play and frolic in a cottage garden or slumber deep within a woodland setting. Or, why not a play on words using plants with fairy names? Just a few to consider include; ‘Elfin’ series of impatiens, ‘Flower Fairy’ series of geraniums, ‘Elfin’ thyme, ‘Airy Fairy’ begonia and ‘The Fairy’ rose.

Housing
A fairy house can be the centerpiece around which you create your fairy domain. Pick a house to fit the theme. Your fairy house can be as fancy or as simple as your imagination, time constraints and financial considerations dictate. Of course, the fairy door is always an important element in any fairy garden as a miniature door is thought to provide wee folk an easy portal from their otherworldly realm to ours.

Plants
Choosing the best plants for your fairy garden is vital and it’s important to buy plants that fit the scale. Herbs like small-leaved basil, chamomile, sage, thyme and marjoram work well. For outdoor gardens in shade, baby tears, miniature hosta and miniature rush are just a few that would work well. For sunny fairy gardens, Irish moss, dianthus and miniature roses are all good choices.

Source and photo: Betty Earl and the National Garden Bureau