Monday, April 5, 2010

The Magic of a Fairy Garden.

Childhood magic is a precious gift. I believe that it is more important than ever, in today's fast-paced, success-driven world to protect and nurture the magic in our children's lives. The excitement my daughter feels when she thinks that the fairies have left her a silvery message, the delight in the discovery of a pearly dewdrop left behind by Mother Moon... these whimsical thoughts dwell only in childhood's imagination and yet the magic they spark will live in her heart long after she knows that it is only the snail who left the silvery trail and condensation that left the dewdrop.

One of the ways we nurture childhood magic in our home is through Kitty's fairy garden. She pays outside in her fairy garden often. She's in the warm sun, breathing in the fresh air. It is her special place where her imagination can roam freely... were her felted fairies and gnomes get married, her tiny horses gallop and her little wooden birds build their nests.
Kitty and I made her fairy garden together. We started with a large whisky barrel but you can also use a much smaller container such as a planter, a tin basin or even a salad bowl. Make sure that the container has a hole in the bottom for proper drainage. Drill a hole if your container doesn't have one. You will be watering your fairy garden often and it is important that it can drain adequately.

Once you have picked out your container, fill it with potting soil. Leave it about half a foot deep.

Next, let your child plan out her fairy garden. Kitty drew a detailed map, indicating where she wanted a hill and a valley, were the pond would go and even where she wanted the path to be placed. Making the map gave her ownership, made the garden hers.
Drawing a map of our Fairy Garden
We propped the plan up in the papyrus and got to work landscaping our garden. We created the hill by mounding the soil and the valley by digging a groove.

Teddy, Kitty's little brother, was in charge of finding earthworms in the vegetable garden to put in Kitty's fairy garden. He was very good at his job and found quite a few...
Earthworms are optional. They are great soil aerators and help maintain good soil drainage (plus, they give the little one something to do so that he doesn't keep destroying the soil hill his sister has, so carefully, built...)

Now, it is time to plant the 'trees' and plants. When choosing plants for your fairy garden, be mindful of the scale you are after. You want it to look like a miniature garden. Moss is the main ground cover and too many other plants may detract from the mossy atmosphere. Let your child's imagination run wild as she chooses plants that will attract the fairies in your neighborhood. We used an immature Tea Tree for our tree. We know that it will want to grow very big and we need to trim it often to keep it stunted. The tree sets the scale of the garden. If your garden is in a smaller container, a shrub will have the same effect as a tree. Also, keep in mind the color combinations... silvers, light greens, dark greens, browns... we like as many colors as possible as it adds texture and interest to our fairy garden. Another consideration when choosing your plants is to make sure the combinations all like the same amount of sun and water. If you are going to be using moss, remember that moss likes sun to part shade and lots of water... add other plants that like the same. If you are going for a desert garden appeal, pebbles, rocks and various cacti look wonderful, but do make sure that too many prickles won't deter your little one from playing in his garden. Here are the plants Kitty chose...
When your plants are laid out, set in your pond. Your pond can be any small container. We used a coconut shell as we love the natural texture it adds but you can use a glass, porcelain or metal bowl too... anything that lends itself to the magic and natural feel of your garden. Do not place your stones until you have planted the moss.

Creative play in our Fairy Garden
With the pond in place, it's time to plant the moss. Carefully break off chunks of moss and contour it over the landscaped hill and valley, around the pond and the tree. Remember to leave space for the path.

Arrange the rocks and pebble path and, all at once, your fairy garden looks like the magical wonderland that it is.
Beautiful Fairy GardenWater your Fairy Garden well...
A Fairy Garden for the imaginationPut all the little fairy and gnome bits and pieces in place... a toadstool rock, a miniature table and chair, a nest.

Red rock toadstool
Your Fairy Garden is complete!
Magical Fairy Garden
We've seen a gnome taking a skinny dip in the pond... a fairy resting comfortably on the moss?

Kitty's fairy garden is her kingdom and magic reigns!
Blessings and, especially, magic!