Fairy Gardening has been gaining in popularity over the last couple years and here at Fifth Season we have jumped in with both feet. A visit to either the Carrboro store or the Charlottesville store will carry away your imagination with the possibilities of the magical spaces you can create. People build these little worlds for a variety of reasons: to pique or sate their curiosity, that of others, to bring the inside in, to play in a garden year round, to entertain children, and many more reasons.
Once you decide you want to build a fairy garden, consider where you want to build it. Incredibly, the wonderful little spaces for fairies to dance and play with our curiosity can be kept almost anywhere: inside or out, sun or shade, on a windowsill or in a dark office. Generally, the more unusual the container, the better. The goal is to build something to lose yourself in. You can use everything from broken pottery to an old bathtub, a bed frame sunk into the soil, an antique dresser drawer, or even any terrarium. Just pick plants and decor accordingly. If building a garden inside in a relatively dark space, focus on preserved moss, stones, and small decorative items. If you put your garden near a bright window, choose plants with small leaves and try to mimic proportions of larger plants. Similarly, if your garden is outside and in a container, you will likely need it in a shady place, with the same plant goals. Many herbs make for beautiful fairy gardens. If your container is in a sunny location, focus more on succulents like sempervivums and sedums. If your fairy garden fills your yard, find larger pieces of decor, or craft absurdly large mushrooms. Large shady gardens should incorporate a lot of ferns and grapevine garland. Much of calculating where to put your little garden is related to the size of the vessel and considering decorations to fit within those proportions.
Once you have collected plants, decor, and possibly little fairies to go into your fairy garden, the fun of creating it begins. To build an indoor terrarium with little light, start with a base layer for a foundation, add moss, and then decorations. If you are creating an indoor terrarium type of garden with plants, read our post on building terrariums. For a small outdoor container, you can just fill it with potting soil, so long as the vessel has good drainage. Otherwise, if it doesn’t drain well treat it like a terrarium and keep it out of the rain. If you are adding live plants, consider their particular care requirements, and try to mimic that. Besides the functional aspect of construction, also consider the aesthetic. For all fairy gardens, don’t just focus on adding more plants. A good fairy garden has open, negative space, as well as plants and decor. Consider where the fairies will sit, or walk. Part of creating the mystique is nudging our imagination when looking in at these little worlds. Our minds start to wander and consider where the fairies may go, or what they may do in these little spaces. Our eyes and imaginations don’t just look at the physical elements that are there, but also what is not there. We fill in the gaps. Little details, like stepping stones, take on as much meaning as the plants. The most important thing to remember is that creating these little worlds is an exercise in creativity; go wild, and have fun!