Create a Fairy Garden

According to fairy lore, fairies watch over humans as they flit through flowers and hide among rustling leaves. Fairies are shy, but you can welcome them by setting up a miniature fairy garden. Small plants, doll-sized furniture and a tiny pond turn the garden into a whimsical wonderland. Little accessories, such as a marble gazing ball, invite fairies to call your garden home. A wee garden isn't just a treat for fairies -- both adults and kids will enjoy discovering this delightful surprise.

Select a container for your fairy garden. Whimsical containers include a wooden whiskey barrel, picnic basket, old wagon, wheelbarrow or open suitcase. Almost any size container will work, but choose one large enough to fit your desired plants and fairy accessories.

Pick out plants for the fairy garden. Herbs with little leaves, small flowers and dwarf plants work well. English thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has a pleasant scent and looks like a miniature bush. It's hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Polyanthus primroses (Primula) add a splash of color to the garden. They're available in pink, purple and many other hues. Primroses are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9. Both of these plants are perennials.

Choose one or two plants to serve as tiny trees, which set the scale for your garden. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) looks like a small evergreen tree if kept pruned. It's a perennial and hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10. Dwarf sage (Salvia officinalis "Minimus") has gray-green leaves and eye-catching purple flowers. Sage needs regular pruning to look like a little tree. This perennial is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 10. Any bonsai tree will also work.

Drill drainage holes in the container, if necessary. Turn the container upside down and put strips of painter's tape across the bottom to keep the drill bit from slipping. Using an electric drill and large bit, drill straight down through the tape and into the container. Don't apply too much pressure or the container might break. Make holes every few inches. Peel off the tape when you're done.

Place the container where plants will receive several hours of bright light per day. Some plants tolerate shade, but most will do better with plenty of sun.

Draw a sketch of your fairy garden on a sheet of paper. Mark where you want each plant and decoration to go.

Fill the container with potting mix and then dig holes that are deep and wide enough for the roots of the plants. Make the holes a few inches apart. Leave a corner or the center free of plants so you'll have room for fairy accessories. The plants don't need too much room because the goal is to keep them small and manageable.

Lower a plant's roots into the hole you made. Cover the roots with potting mix and then press the mix down gently with your hands. Repeat this for each plant.

Water the plants at the soil line until the top 1 inch of potting mix feels damp, but not soggy. Water again when the top inch of potting mix feels dry.

Place a shallow dish, tray or halved coconut shell in the center or corner of the container. Fill the dish with water. This serves as a wee fairy pond.

Line the exposed surface of the potting mix with clumps of Irish moss (Sagina subulata). Place the moss around the fairy pond and plants. This perennial plant has a fuzzy, grasslike texture and produces tiny white flowers. It's hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Press small, flat stones into the Irish moss to make a little pathway for fairies. Place the stones in a circle around the pond, for example, or curve the path around the plants. Use stones of various colors for visual appeal.

Place a miniature wooden birdhouse in the container. Glue tiny pebbles to the exterior walls and pinecone scales to the roof. Put dollhouse furniture, such as wooden chairs or a bench, in front of the birdhouse. Other charming additions include a fairy-sized picnic table, tiny watering can and a bundle of twigs for firewood.

Add other accessories to make your garden look magical. Glue a shiny marble to the wide end of a golf tee to make a fairy gazing ball. Stick the gazing ball next to the pond. Place colorful ceramic toadstools around the garden in random spots. To make your own toadstools, paint wooden drawer knobs red and then add white dots. Set ceramic fairy figurines in different places to bring the garden to life.


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