Fairy Gardens

Author: Karen Marquardt

Fairy gardens are a very popular sort of miniature garden; something like a combination of dollhouse and garden. They are usually container gardens, and have succulents, low-growing or miniature plants, and sometimes even bonsai. These gardens are charming for small spaces, entryways, decks and other areas with limited decorating potential. They are simple and fun to make.

The first step in creating a fairy garden is choosing a container. I’ve seen everything from old dresser drawers to wagons used as a base, so be creative. The container should have a drainage hole in it, and I usually add some crushed terracotta from broken pots to aid in drainage. Fill the container with a good quality potting soil, and you are ready to go. Depending on what you are using, you might do some simple layout at this point as well.

The next steps are planning the garden and selecting plants and accessories. Typically you would want to use low, slow-growing plants of differing heights, textures, and shapes. Herbs, succulents and some ground covers work well. I like creeping thyme, creeping fig, jade plants, and other succulents. I haven’t had much luck with small ferns, Irish moss, and similar plants. The accessories and plants pretty much drive the garden plan. I like a house and some sort of path, but there are so many wonderful miniatures out there to use that your imagination is only limited by your budget!

Planting and setup is straightforward. I usually work with the tallest elements and the focal point first, and then add the smaller elements and plants. For almost every one I’ve done, this means houses and trees at the back, and working forward with pathways and smaller plants. Leave some room for the plants to grow, but crowded isn’t necessarily bad. Some sphagnum moss helps to even things out.

After planting, these are low maintenance. I usually water mine two or three times a week in the hotter months, and close to not at all in the cooler. Regularly pick off falling leaves, trim plants, and tidy up to keep your fairy garden looking good. If plants have to be replaced, do so carefully, and re-arrange everything when you are done.