A tiny trend has swept gardening in a big way: miniature gardens, also known as fairy gardens. Here’s how to start one yourself.
Find the right space
Part of the appeal of gardening in miniature is you can tuck your creation into a small space, such as the corner of a flower bed. You can also contain one within a flower pot or terrarium and enjoy it inside through the winter. Some good places for a fairy garden might be by the mailbox, at the base of a big tree, on a mossy patch in the shade or around a tree stump. Look at your available space and see where your imagination takes you.
Resin figurines, dwellings, furniture and other tiny garden accoutrements can be purchased at craft supply stores, garden nurseries, and online. By mid-summer, you may even find some on sale. A little store-bought item that catches your fancy can be the creative impetus needed to start a fairy garden. Finding the perfect place for that mushroom house, birdbath or tiny lawn chair can lead you to look at your yard in a whole new way.
A handmade touch
In addition to buying ready-made items, part of the fun of gardening in miniature can be making things yourself. Elaborate builders might use craft sticks to create a door or twigs to build a house, but making your own fairy garden can be even simpler. A few bottle caps make stepping stones. A small plastic dish sunken into the earth becomes a pond. It’s an exercise in harnessing that childlike imagination that we all still have, however rusty. For outdoor gardens, keep in mind that handmade items may deteriorate in the elements, making them annuals, not perennials.
Add tiny plants
Adding plants to scale makes a tiny garden come alive. Bonsai trees are an obvious choice for small plants, but any diminutive plant will do. Small herb plants such as rosemary are often used for their ability to look like bushes. Taking advantage of already-planted small blooms such as violets is another technique to get the right size plants for your garden. When fall approaches, fairy gardens often become more charmingly prominent as foliage dies back.
Sometimes, all it takes to create a fairy garden is a door. In 1995, 20-some years before fairy garden popularity boomed, a small door appeared at the base of a tree trunk near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. An enthralled public left coins, notes and candy for the “Lake Harriet Elf.” Some of the notes have been answered, typewritten with tiny fonts.
Adding a door to your yard or garden can create that same whimsical, imaginative joy—no mythical pen pal required.