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Enchanted Magical Gardens

By Heide Ludwig,  R.G.E.

MNLA Certified Nursery &

Landscape Professional

I think I am lucky enough to have grown up in an era not overwhelmed with technology. We used our imaginations quite a bit in some of the games we played and the adventures we had. In a neighborhood called Inwood, in New York City, we were surrounded by fabulous parks. The Cloisters is housed high atop Ft. Tryon Park and visible in many directions. To most people, The Cloisters was a collection of medieval art, religious artifacts and inner courtyard gardens, owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To my sister and me, it was where the giant lived. We walked quietly around the wealth of artworks so we did not disturb the giant.

Imagination can be such fun!  We went from the huge “castle” visible from our apartment windows to little fairies living in our backyard.  Fireflies were our light into the realm of this magical place. When I moved to Minnesota, I took an interest in gardening and eventually found a passion for plants and using that interest to create beautiful landscaped areas.

There is a growing interest in Fairy Gardens in recent years.  Even in limited space, one can create a fun and unusual garden designed to bring out the imagination in anyone. After all, plants have the ability to bring up memories and to create new ones. You do not need much space to put in a fairy garden. Fairies do not take up that much space.  All you really need is a bit of imagination.

In very limited space, you can create a wonderful little garden in a container.  There are so many embellishments out there to provide your garden with scenery pleasing to fairies and pixies.  Some of the items I have seen are miniature benches, seats, tiny flower pots and even tiny fountains. Container gardens can easily be created by use of those fabulous succulents, which do well outside but must be brought back in for the winter.  Be sure that any container you use has adequate drainage, especially if using live plant material.

Larger spaces dedicated to a fairy garden are defined by the use of little houses, sculptures, stone walking paths and a variety of flowers and shrubs that fairies just love. The area doesn’t need to be very big. Many shade plants would do well in a very limited light area. Hostas not only provide shelter during storms but the flowers are highly prized by fairies to use as caps! Bleeding Heart and Solomon’s Seal would be interesting plants for your more-shaded fairy garden. Fairies love the bells of Lily-of-the-Valley. If you listen carefully, you might hear the music they produce as the fairies gently shake them. Ferns hide the fairies from the outside world.  Irish moss provides a soft comfortable place to sit and have a miniature picnic. Small rocks provide seating for the fairies.

Rock gardens can be ideal locations for a fairy garden. They already have some of the basic elements needed.  Adding a few fun plants in a container is all you need to spark the imagination. Even a hanging basket or two can be used as a quick way to add some color interest to the rock garden.  A rock garden would be a perfect place for larger pieces of driftwood and possibly some accent lights that are solar powered. They give off a very soft light and batteries are not necessary.

Sometimes, it only takes a container to begin your journey into imagination.  An old birdcage, a large broken clay pot laid on its side, an old toy wagon or maybe it starts with the purchase of a rustic little house. These all make excellent choices for beginning the garden and start to build out from there. Plants like coral bells, colorful marigolds, “Million Bells” petunias, or even a variety of herbs like thyme and oregano can provide a beautiful scene.  Supplement with some of those treasures you brought back from vacation. Seashells, large and small, can be used along with pieces of driftwood or interesting rocks and pebbles. You may have a talent to fashion miniature furniture or even baubles to hang in your fairy garden. Small wind chimes are very pleasing to fairies. Check out your local craft store to see what treasures they have to offer. Accessories to model trains would offer a large variety of ideas for a fairy garden.

Fairy gardens can be seasonal as well. There are wonderful tiny Christmas ornaments that would convert any indoor garden from summer mode to holiday decor indoors. Small imitation evergreen trees can be used to supplement for living plants, where height is needed but not available in plant material.  You can purchase tiny light sets to highlight the scene.

A fairy garden would make a great first garden for a young child.  Allow your child to choose the items and plants that they feel would fit well in their fairy garden.  A small garden space of 2 feet square is often enough to spark the creativity hidden inside that child.

The size and theme of your fairy garden is only limited by your imagination. After all, we are gardeners and we already have that magical start to let loose our imaginations!


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