Playing outdoors and getting dirty is great for kids and adults, contributing to health and creativity. But for those days when it’s just too hot, too cold, or too rainy to spend long periods outdoors, try another fun activity. A fairy garden can sprinkle fantasy into your home.
It’s an easy and fun project for you and your little ones. Just be careful about how many fairies you invite into your home. They’re mischievous little creatures that are likely to take over every empty shelf if you let them.
Planning Your Fairy Garden
Look around your community or nearby hiking trails. If you’re lucky enough to live in a community surrounded by nature, like Aberlin Springs, you have plenty to choose from. Just be careful not to disturb private property or animals’ homes. This is a great opportunity to teach children about respecting nature. (Also note that many municipal parks and preserves prohibit the removal of ANYTHING from their sites.) Look for twigs, rocks, moss, empty snail shells, pieces of tree park, or wildflowers. Choose to stick entirely with natural objects or incorporate items from around the house, too.
Fairy gardens can take any shape or size. Most plants require full light or partial shade. If you plan on having the garden inside pick the sunniest spot. The size of a fairy garden is only limited to how much room you have.
Picking your Plants
If you can, try to choose native plants for your garden. As an alternative, succulents and cacti are easy to care for. These desert plants require less water. If you have small children and want to teach them about responsibility and how to care for gardens this is a great plant to start with.
Herbs are another great choice. Fresh herbs are also relatively low-maintenance and if you like to cook you always have a ready supply of basil and rosemary to pick. Flowers need more attention but even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs it’s still a good option to beautify your home and freshen the air.
Choosing a Planter
Any home and garden store is going to have countless planters to choose from. You can also create your own planter by upcycling objects from home. Try an old wagon that your kids have outgrown. Some people like to use teacups.You can even use an old rainboot or a drawer from a discarded piece of furniture. So get creative with some of the unused objects lying around in your home.
If you use a planter made from organic matter such as wood make sure the bottom can drain and aerate. Otherwise, it will start molding and will cause wood rot.
Pick Your Theme
This is probably the most difficult decision you’ll have to make throughout the whole process. You can check out any craft store and they’ll have just about everything you can imagine. Don’t care for fairies so much? That’s alright, you can make a miniaturized version of your dream reading nook. You’ll find model toadstools, and dragons, and gnomes oh my! Let your imagination go wild!
Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Fairy Garden
Putting everything together is relatively easy. Arrange the plants the way you want them. Settle them in the dirt and place the accessories. To keep your garden growing strong and tall here are a few tips and tricks.
Pick the Right Soil
Different plants require different PH balances and different consistencies for the soil. Succulents do not require a lot of water to survive unlike, for instance, a tomato plant. It is important that you place them in a soil that does not retain water. Dirt with organic matter like manure and mulch is the surest way to quickly kill these plants. If you are helping your child to create a miniature version of your own backyard or community garden, use the same soil you use there. (Get permission first, if needed.)
Flowers like black-eyed susans and milkweed are native to Ohio. Since they are already well adapted to the soil they will grow hardy and will require less maintenance. As an added bonus there is less likelihood you will have to buy new flowers next year. Since the native flowers are adapted to our climate, perennials will likely keep coming back each year!
Too Big for Their Britches
If you only give your plants a small amount of room to grow they will stay relatively small. However, if you give them the chance to stretch their limbs, they will not hesitate to do so. Sometimes they need a little support. Stakes can help. Instead of using wood or metal stakes from the garden store, get creative! Rarely used chopsticks are a fun choice. Has your child outgrown their baby cutlery but you can’t seem to part with it? Those make great support systems for your plants too.
Enjoy building your own fairy garden and bring a little bit of the outdoors inside. Get your hands dirty, spend time with your kids, and make something you can enjoy every day.
PHOTO: Cassie Kohrs