Fairy Gardens have become popular across the lands ~in all sizes and shapes! I think this is a wonderful eventuality indeed. My first one was several years ago and turned out to have difficulties because of the very cold climate. So this project is my answer to that--to have one that is movable.
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 or you instead of make them yourelf.
I want to note that this little garden, which sits inside my front gate..has drawn so many wonderful comments from postmen and home deliveries of all kinds, to neighbor and friends alike. It seems that everyone has a place of happiness in their heart about Wee folk and Fairyland:-)
This is the finished Fairy garden. It is located under an ornamental Plum tree near the front gate and brings such delight to people that come by.
I decided I needed some way to be able to move the garden when needed & decided a wheel barrow made good sense.
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.
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 as 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.
Here are a few the plants 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. I looked for ground covers and plants with tiny flowers and tiny leaves:-)
My Grandson is helping with this project which makes all the better!
Once filled we imagine how the garden might look , putting 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. I placed the taller plants in the back and the lower ones in front, with the trailing ones closest to the edges. The wheel barrow would be placed in front of a small tree, so there was a "back & a front". As you plant, consider from which angles it will be viewed the most.
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.
Pruning the moss a bit helps thicken it as everything is growing,but just the very tips..not too far down.
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!
INDOORS FOR WINTER!
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.
OUTDOORS FOR SPRING!
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.
This ends the first section of this tutorial. The next section will be the building of features section.
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, this should always be done so that the soil does not get soggy as many plant roots cannot tolerate wet feet!
This shows the tub full of good quality organic potting soil and the tiny flowers, moss, ferns and ground covers to plant it with. The location is shade and filtered sunlight. Note that I placed rocks around the bottom of the tub and will encourage the trailing plants over the edge and will also use sphagnum moss to fill in the gaps where plastic shows.
This is a view after planting.
Because of my very cold climate , this garden did not survive well over the winter. In a warmer climate this kind of arrangement would be fine. The following Spring, I began my wheel barrow Fairy Garden, so I could put it the green house each winter, which has worked well.
BUILDING OF GARDEN FEATURES
This next section goes into more details about the Fairy Garden features I made and used. This part is a still a "work in progress" and I will continue adding to it. Please feel free to message me with questions at any time!
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.
I cut the logs and also drilled holes for windows and door way. I have tools to do this, but if you do not, just paint a door way and windows with their corresponding shapes, with black paint and follow the same steps. It will look fine! Tin cans are another idea for a tower base. So are paper towel rolls, but hey would have to heavily water proofed, and maybe fill with clay or other substance to make the durable. Balsa wood is an easy wood to use for projects and you could make the base forms square towers instead of round. The balsa wood needs to be painted well to seal it , just like the wood I used.
This is my outdoor work table! It is a good place to work with gravel .
This picture shows a log structure for the castle(made from two pieces of a limb) the castle floor in front of it, two bridges, and the bench. I will be sealing the bottoms, etc with paint to help waterproof & preserve the wood. The glue I use is called Weldbond, it is made in Canada. It is waterproof, freeze proof and adheres to many surfaces & is non toxic. It is the best glue I have ever found!
On outdoor stone houses, I have also used landscape adhesives that come in a large tube to be used with a caulking gun. These are made to last in damp and cold conditions, but sometimes have strong smells. Some do not though.
Like a lot of glues though, on a warm day it will form a dry film over the surface and not stick as well. It is best to work in the morning or temps between 40 & 70 degrees for best results. If it starts getting a dry skin on the surface of the glue, wipe the glue to be flat and wait til it is cooler. I seperate my gravel into bowls of similar sizes so my laying on of the rocks goes quicker . This is helpful to get the rocks on quickly before glue starts setting up.
I put the bench back glue layer on and covered it tiny gravel and one larger stone, I will repeat this all over the bench, using stones I have chosen. I often use a little larger stone around edges or openings and then just fill in the inside space with the smaller stones. You can see this technique on the castle around doors and window.
Continue to cover all the pieces you are working on with glue and gravel. You could use other things too, like beads, buttons, costume jewelry, mosaic stones or glass. This where imagination gets fun! Once the castle was done, I turn to making the conical rooves for it. The first step is making the pattern.
The copper is real copper that I have bought at hardware stores or online. It is called "flashing" and comes in a roll and used in the installments of copper roofs on houses or other construction. It is thin and can be bent easily. You can also get copper sheets from craft outlets. You can also use any other kind of water proof , flexible material and paint it. I made the hammerd look by using a wooden spoon.
Using a close pin or tape, overlap the edges to the place where like the cones
shape the most. This design of two towers, it needs to not overhang much because it will be touching the other smaller tower.
After you have determined your cone shape, trim the excess from the circle out, but leave a small over lap, about 3/16th" for the glue.
I used a small screwdriver and made small slits with a tap of the hammer for the paper fastners to go through. I also applied glue before I put the fastners through. On the back side you spread the fastners flat against the copper .
There are many kinds of glues that work for attaching the roof to the house. Since the houses are solid wood, you can even drill a small hole at a downward angle and use a small copper nail to go through the roof into the wood. Even something like pitch will work.
So here again is the finished Castle and other things. Next will be the house and gazebo!
To Be Continued!