Plant Life

ramblings and tips about plants and all things green from Peg Tillery of WSU Kitsap Extension.
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Fairy Gardens

July 31st, 2011 by Peg Tillery

Our granddaughter Bridget asked me to help her plant a fairy garden as a present for her seventh birthday on June 10. Here are ideas to create your own fairy garden, whether for a child in your life or for the child within you.

Fairy gardens can be small or big depending on the space available. Some can even be created in containers or boxes (remember to use those with drainage). The only limitations in creating a fairy garden are those imposed by our own imaginations. Never fear, fairies are quite forgiving and they’ll enjoy any kind of sanctuary you can create for them and for yourself.

Fairy gardens are magical places where imaginations can run wild. When local gardener Denise Johnson’s children were still young she created a fairy wonderland for them in her garden. Fairies like sparkly things so Denise placed sparkly beads and bits of polished glass into hollow glass blocks and then incorporated the blocks into stairs in the garden. Some of the blocks had openings on the side where the children could leave notes for the fairies. The fairies would leave little treasures in exchange for the notes.

Use small pebbles to create tiny pathways for fairies. It would be fun to have children paint and decorate the pebbles. Don’t be afraid to use some glitter in the design. Remember to watch for fairy dust sprinkled overnight in your garden once it’s completed. Hint for parents: this magic dust looks like glitter.

Fairies sip on flower nectar and enjoy the same flowers as butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant leaves become parasols to shelter fairies from spring rain or summer heat. Fairies love sun so summer is the best time to spy one. Remember to sit very quiet and still.

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla) and other flowers with large leaves collect water making perfect pools and bathtubs for fairies. Lamb’s ears (Stachys bysantina) serve as blankets and towels for fairies and their babies. Nasturtiums and other cup shaped flowers provide perfect cribs and cradles.

The following plants are just a few recommended for fairy gardens: Rosemary (Rosemary officianalis); Hydrangea, Japanese maple (Acer palmatum); Magnolia; Flower Carpet Roses; Clematis; Nasturtiums; hardy fuchsias, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Calendula, Columbine, Hosta, Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium); Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla); Ferns (look for rickrack fern and button fern); Cosmos; Balloon Flower (Platycodon) and Campanula. Use thyme, violets and other smaller plants for fairy gardens in containers.

An age old favorite set of books on fairies is the flower fairy books by Cecily Mary Barker created in the 1920s. These books have been reissued by Penguin Press. Look for: “Flower Fairies of the Spring;” “Flower Fairies of the Summer;” “Flower Fairies of the Autumn” and “Flower Fairies of the Winter.” Each page features a poem and illustration with a fairy nestled in the plant described in the poem. Nearly all of the plants named will grow in our area.

I found a wonderful Klutz book/kit called “Fairies – Petal People You Make Yourself” at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo. It has instructions and all the materials to make a “dozen blooming buddies.” The author is 13 year old Rachel Haab. I ordered an extra copy for our other granddaughter, Maireid so she and Bridget can make fairies to decorate Bridget’s fairy garden.

Country Nursery and Gardens at 2075 Seabeck Highway offers classes on creating and planting mini fairy gardens. The nursery has abundant containers, plant choices and a host of tiny tempting accoutrements to decorate and enhance fairy gardens. Grandpa Pat and I succumbed to several of these temptations.

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