Do you believe in magic and the power of pixie dust?
Spring arrives March 20, and a new gardening trend could add a delightful touch of whimsy to your gardens while sparking your creativity and humoring your inner child.
Fairy gardening puts a magical spin on miniature gardening, a trend that's been popular for several years.
“If you haven't done this, you could think ‘This is kind of silly, come on,'” said Julie Bawden-Davis who wrote “Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden” along with co-author Beverly Turner. But the trend is gaining popularity among both women and men, she said. It's contagious, Bawden-Davis said, and a great way to get your kids interested in gardening.
“You'd be surprised. You go into a whole other state where you go back to childhood, when you were playing with dolls or playing in the dirt or pretending you were lost in the forest,” she said. “The time just goes by and you have this wonderful piece of art.”
Some fairy gardens are designed to attract fairies to the garden, playing to one's imagination. Others are designed around fairy figurines.
“Fairy gardens remind us that we are never too old to play ‘Let's Pretend,'” Turner writes in “Fairy Gardening.” She's been incorporating fairies into her miniature gardens for more than a decade. Bawden-Davis calls her the “Fairy Godmother” of fairy gardening.
Turner got started fairy gardening when, as an adult, she decided to fulfill a lifelong wish for an elaborate dollhouse. She started with a dollhouse kit, she writes in the book, and proceeded to do a little “kit-bashing.”
“I took that classic Edwardian-style dollhouse included in the kit and added on to it. And added. And added. And added. By the time I finished, my diminutive home had a garden rivaling Central Park!”
Her friends made comments like, “Don't you wish you could have a real garden that's as tiny as this?”
“Why couldn't I?” she thought. She began experimenting with plants to see how they worked in small scale settings.
At first she used mainly herbs and bonsais for trees but over the years she found many great options for miniature landscapes. Cryptomeria, junipers, conifers and cypress, she writes, lend softness to a landscape for a mountainous or forested look. You can create single-trunked trees from plants including boxwood, cuphea, myrtle or serissa.
“This sparked my creativity and I got excited,” said Jennifer Crotty, of Muskogee. She's an avid gardener and an artist, so fairy gardening was a natural for her. She likes using azaleas for trees because they're inexpensive and easy to prune.
Enchanted fairy gardening is more than just throwing together some little plants and figurines, the experts agree. The first step to creating a fairy garden is choosing a theme. For one of Crotty's gardens, she took inspiration from the movie “Moulin Rouge.”
Others draw inspiration from storybooks, fairy tales, movies or any other theme. You can also create a holiday fairy garden that you change seasonally with your holiday decor.
Let your theme flaunt your interests, Turner advises. “Show your love of horses by creating a meadow inhabited by a grazing equine figurine, or allow your inner surfer to take refuge in a planting edged with sand and overlooking an ‘ocean' of blue glass.”
Anything you love in real-size will be even more irresistible in miniature. Part of making your fairy garden look realistic is making sure to provide your fairies with things they want and need, such as a place to find cover from rain (fairies can't fly if their wings get wet). They like companionship, so be sure to provide them with some tiny woodland friends.
According to faeriemagick.com, a blog all about fairies, they also like tidiness, especially in the kitchen. They love bits of bread and cake, a thimble-full of milk or water, glittery and shiny things such as small bells, marbles and jewelry. They like happy music and soft lighting.
Fairies are afraid of sharp metal things like scissors and they are said to dislike eye contact, because (the blog explains) “It is said that you can gain control over a fairy, especially a Leprechaun, if you look him or her straight in the eye and hold that gaze.”
You can create your garden in a traditional pot, or get creative by using unexpected and found objects such as a bird cage, an old wrought iron chair, a hanging planter. Or forgo a container at all and create your fairy haven at the base of a large shady tree or someplace else a fairy would find inviting.
“Watching peoples' faces when they first encounter fairy gardens is a little like seeing kids finding everything they want under the tree on Christmas morning,” Turner writes.
When Turner got started, fairy gardening wasn't as popular as it's become today, so she had to get creative finding and creating accessories. Some people use dollhouse accessories, some build their own and others purchase miniature accessories specially designed for outdoor use.
These accessories are sold at many local nurseries, including TLC's two Oklahoma City locations and Tony's Tree Plantation, 3801 S Post Rd. Hobby Lobby carries a selection of fairies accessories but said they're selling quickly and likely won't get more until next spring.
Many Internet sources sell them as well. Two good sites are fairygardenexpert.net and miniature-gardens.com.
The book contains a chapter called “Miniature Plants for Fairyland” that includes a comprehensive list of good plant choices for miniature gardens.
• Tidiness, order, and cleanliness, especially in the kitchen
• Bread and cake — little bits set out in the evening
• Something that clearly invites them. The fairy door is a good example.
• Milk or water, set out in the evening, perhaps in a nice thimble (but not one made of iron or steel)
• Glittery and shiny things — small bells, marbles, jewelry (no iron or steel)
• Music — light, happy music, even singing in the shower can help
• Low lighting — they are most often seen at dusk and dawn, but a small candle (electric is OK) can guide them to your home
• Iron things. Especially scissors left out in plain view. Pins, knives, anything made of iron will frighten them, sometimes.
• Clutter, disorder, stacks of things that haven't been sorted, and so on
• Bells. I know that some fairies like bells, but they are their own bells. If your cat wears a bell, or you have a very rude alarm clock, or something like that, the noise may drive away the fairies.
• Water. Many “psychic” experiences are attributed to a deep, hidden stream under a building. Some fairies are the opposite: They don't like to cross a stream, hidden or visible. (Then again, we have plenty of fairies who live in or near the water, so this isn't a firm rule.)
• Looking them in the eye. It is said that you can gain control over a fairy, especially a Leprechaun, if you look him/her straight in the eye and hold that gaze.