Fairy Gardens Transform Yards Into Something Magical

Garden fairies throughout literature are symbols of childlike innocence, magic, and wonders of nature. Their presence in stories and art represents a time in a child’s life when the boundary between reality and imagination wasn’t quite so clear.

British and Irish folklore has it that if you provide fairies with a home in a quiet part of your garden or yard, it could become a passageway for them to join the human world and if you’re lucky, they might pay you a visit and leave a bit of magic, good fortune, or even a little mischief behind. 

Ed Bush, professor of ornamental horticulture at Louisiana State University, said creating a fairy garden is a combination of science and art—with a healthy dose of imagination. 

“There really are only two things you need to create a fairy garden,” Bush said. “You just need to select a plant that will tolerate the condition into which you’re putting it. It needs to be planted 2-3 inches deep, so it has enough water reserve. And you need the proper soil for that plant."

Fairy Garden swing

Bush said a themed fairy garden could be charming for a young child. “It might be  something centered around a child’s favorite book, or a holiday,” he said. “You can construct your fairy garden in a dish or shallow container, or even on a tree trunk or hanging basket. It’s about using your imagination, getting the kids’ hands in the dirt and having fun.”

Miniature plants like lithops or haworthia, or succulents like hens and chicks with some mini mondo grass for ground cover, are all good choices.

“Even something like miniature African violets could work well,” Bush said. “There are mosses that look like grass, or artificial mosses and pebbles that can be bought in a hobby store that can be part of the miniature landscape.”

Miniature ivy, Irish moss, nasturtium, creeping thyme and lavender also make wonderful fairy garden plants. 

Fairy Garden

Adding small gnomes, trolls, bridges, fences, or a garden path made of colored pebbles can be delightful touches to a fairy garden.

“Some of the plants bloom and attract butterflies, birds or other insects,” Bush said. “Miniature ferns like rabbit’s foot ferns make nice shade for miniature figures in the fairy garden.”

You can make your fairy garden in five easy steps:

  • Choose your location. Think about whether you want to invite fairies into your house or have them stay in your yard.
  • Choose a theme and make a plan. Think: Beach, woodland wonderland, cottage garden, or fairy characters from a movie, like Tinkerbell.
  • Choose your fairy garden container. A birdbath, a shallow washtub, or a pot are good options. 
  • Pick your plants and potting mix. Plants should be small in scale and have a delicate, fairy-like quality. Baby’s tears, ferns, and miniature roses are good choices. 
  • Position your accessories. Fairies love cozy, hidden places made from natural items like twigs, leaves or stones. Consider tiny figurines like unicorns or other mythical creatures, fairy doors, or other creative details. 

Fairy garden do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t use iron or nickel because they will chase away your fairies. 
  • Do recycle and compost organically. Fairies love that!
  • Do think about fairies’ playmates—butterflies, ladybugs and fireflies.
  • Don’t argue or use bad language around fairies. They must have peace and harmony to perform their magic. 
  • Do remember fairies love sugar and sweets!

Fairies find water fountains near rock formations to be very inviting. They love shiny, sparkly things and they love children with a great imagination. Watch for fairies at dusk or dawn—that’s when they like to play the most. 

Above all, fostering belief in magical worlds and faraway places is key to a successful fairy garden.

“After you’ve selected the right container, the right collection of plants, and a good soil, all you have to do is dream the rest,” Bush said. 

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1 comment

  • Edward Bush

    Great job with the story!

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