MAKING A FAIRY GARDEN TUTORIAL


This tutorial is based on my second Fairy Garden Project. I started it two seasons ago, but never got to making the stone buildings for it, so did not finish until this Summer (2016).  The project includes the basics of choosing a "container" , filling it, finding plants you like that fit the size and then adding features. 
My original ideas were to have houses, paths, a pond, bridge and maybe a stream. I wintered project over in my little greenhouse. The green house got down to single digits, but I was pleased that I only lost a couple things. The following Spring I chose to do some replanting, which shows in the pictures.
While there are many fairy garden instructions available, everyones ideas can be inspiring to some one else. This is a very fun project and there are lots of miniature items, that are weather proof..that are very cute and readily available if you choose to buy features instead of make them.

This is the finished Fairy garden. This is located under an ornamental Plum tree near the front gate and brings such delight to people that come by.

These are the features I used in my finished Fairy Garden.  The knife and spoon are for making a place  for features and moving plants a bit as needed. The twigs I used for installing the solar diode lights on copper wire, which are coiled on the left. 
I show how I made the little buildings at the end of this tutorial and small Wee Folk are a separate tutorial here on my site.

To start this project, you need to decide on a container to put it in. 
The first Fairy Garden I made was in a large tub on the ground(I found this at the hardware store for mixing cement) It was a rectangle and about 4 ft long.

I drilled holes for drainage in the container

 I put rocks and moss around the base and got plants that would crawl over the edges. The houses  here are put out for the day, but are not water proof. My goal was to make some houses that would be more weather resistant and smaller. the problem for me with this set up was that as winter came and freezing temperatures ( I live in the mountains and get snow) ..I could not protect this or move it. It did not survive too well and the next Spring I decided to try something else.


I decided to look for an old wheel barrow. A friend of mine was discarding this because one handle was gone and the other broken.  I rebuilt it new handles and it was just right for my project. My idea here was that I could move the Fairy garden as needed.  Yes, it is heavy, but doable. Two people are good as one can help steady it over any bumpy terrain when moving it.

 Drainage is important in any planter. In a deep planter I also often put some gravel. I drilled holes in the bottom and there were already several areas where there will holes from rust.



The basics to get started are simple:

    1. A container with holes, a size that works for your space, from old vintage wash pan to a wheel barrow or other planter. Found objects are fun, but there are all kinds of containers in garden centers as well.
    2. Potting soil~ I used an acid soil mix with a regular soil, my garden is mostly in the shade and the shade plants such as ferns and moss usually prefer an acid soil.
   3.  A shovel, trowel, a few garden tools for smaller plants

   4. Rocks and/gravel as an optional feature. I used rocks as place holders where I felt I would put garden features such as house or ponds. I planted around these and let the plants naturalize, growing around them. The gravel I used to cover up the dirt that showed while the plants filled in and for paths. If you do not have gravel you can find somewhere like a lake shore or creek, fish aquarium natural gravel is pretty and inexpensive.
 
    5. Plants~ I went to the local nurseries and perused the ground covers, the shade plants and some had rock garden plants that were small. I gathered some of my favorites , enough to fill the wheel barrow with allowance for spreading. My location will get morning sun and then shade all day, so tried to get plants that liked that kind of thing.


Later I will make a list of plants , but here are a few that I have used.  I generally shop by looking at what the nursery has in stock and what looks hardy and healthy. Every season you find new and different plants along with good old standbys. Read the labels though and get to know the plants and how compatable they are to your climate and location and note how big they can grow too. I want plants that would stay small in my garden.




  The wheel barrow is filled to just below the top. I wanted as much dirt as possible , keeping just down from the edge so water and dirt would not run over the edge when watered. Overtime this is going to settle down. I have also added some compost , which is optional to the top because the mountain air is very dry and it helps hold the water.



Once filled I imagine how I might want the garden to look, I put the stones where dwellings might go and the abalone shell is where a pond might be. My helper is putting in a trough that might be a creek or path. We filled this with gravel. The light patch in the center (this is compost) is where my "meadow"made from Scotch moss will be. It is helpful to plan your landscape and plant accordingly.



Next we placed the containers with the plants where we thought they would like best. Because the wheel barrow was going to be near a tree in the back,  I placed the taller plants in the back and the lower ones in front, with the trailing ones closest to the edges.

 It is important to place the plants with a little space for growing and so their roots are not touching. Filling in with a large table spoon makes the job easier than with a bigger trowel.
 4" pots of creeping thyme and mosses can be divided, which helps fill in small areas. Plants can be carefully torn apart or cut with a kitchen knife or garden clippers. Care is taken to be as gentle as possible with the roots.

This the garden after the planting which we did in one morning. I gave a gentle but good watering and will move it under it's tree now. Note that some gravel has been put on top of the bare dirt to help keep it in place. I only water with a gentler shower of water, not a direct stream because that could disrupt the planting. A watering can is nice.  Beware in this kind of container there are some shallow places that need more regular watering . I generally used a watering can and watered this every day.  You do not want it dry or too wet.

  This is the settled location of the garden and it will grow here until Winter approaches. I put some decorations (frogs) on the rocks , while it is growing.

 Pruning the moss a bit helps thicken it as everything is growing.
 Here you can see things are filling in. It has been about 3 or 4 weeks. The garden makes a nice "stage" for little props and taking photos.


I often found myself using the garden in progress as a photo op for the things I made. It makes a very nice setting for many things related to Wee Folk!

 I put in colored glass where I had wanted a creek . This is a Fox and Cart who really like the garden!


 As we moved into Autumn, I moved the The Garden into my small green house.
This was how it was looking after many freezes.  The moss got yellowed and I lost one fern, but over all, I was quite pleased.

 This is the following Spring, when I moved it back into its place under the tree when frost possibility was past. I planted new moss as the Scotch moss was a sad looking. Now I will let things fill out again with Spring growth and continue to work on the project by making the little houses I have in mind that can stay in the garden over night etc.


This is my finished garden! Things have filled in and I have defined paths and placement of things. I ended up with a smaller pond, which I put by the little bridge toward the back. I made a little winding stone path from the moss mounds, which I like better than the long straighter one..I made some little stone walls, a gazebo, a castle, a stone cottage and some mushroom houses. I have made a gateway out of Dogwood branches, which lend themselves well to making miniature "trees".  I also used twigs for the lights on the copper wire. Here is a night time picture!

I placed the end with the solar panel on the tree trunk where it gets some sun to recharge. These lights come on at dusk. Solar diode light strings are easily found in garden or party shops and are not expensive :-)   They really bring the magic in!

 This is the garden with the little Wee folk I designed and made for it. They are best not left to the weather. I keep mine in a nice little round basket with a lid.


 The the close up shots are very adorable and make nice cards and are great for story telling :-)


   This ends the first section of this tutorial. The next section will be the building of features section.


BUILDING OF GARDEN FEATURES

These are my features, which if you have some tools and materials can be made.
Fairy garden features can also be purchased as there are many items for sale in many venues.


The Fairyland Castle is made from two small logs made from branches and thin copper sheeting for the roof. The gravel I found along the lake shore, but have also used natural fish aquarium gravel that is inexpensive and attractive.



 This is my outdoor work table! It is a good place to work with gravel .
This picture shows  The log structure for the castle, its floor, two bridges, with with railings, and the bench. I will be sealing the bottoms, etc with paint to help preserve the wood.  The glue I use is called Weldbond, it is made in Canada and is waterproof, freeze proof and adheres to many surfaces.  Like a lot of glues, on a warm day it will form a dry film over the surface and not stick as well to the stones or things you are putting on. It is best to work in the morning or in temperature under 70 degrees.  If it starts getting a dry skin on the surface of the glue, be sure you break through this film when you put the stone on.

I put two or three coats on. This acrylic art paint , it is non-toxic and will help seal the wood in the damp environment. I hand water the fairy garden with a watering can with fine holes in the spout, to be gentle. I water the shallow ends more than the center. I water around my features so they are not soaked.

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 I put the back  glue layer  on and covered it tiny gravel and one larger stone, I will repeat this all over the bench, using stones that I like. I nice way to do it is to make a border of larger stones and fill in the middle areas with smallest gravel.
This is the fast way to do this technique.


TO BE CONTINUED!



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