A fairy garden is a small container garden or designated space in the garden that utilizes miniature plants and accessories. Creating a container fairy or gnome garden is a fun way to add a little whimsy to your garden or home. Here’s how to get started.
First, choose a theme. Will your garden be sweet and delicate like a magical fairy garden; or bold and colorful like a gnome garden? Some themes you may wish to consider are a woodland theme, beach theme, farm theme, camping theme, Victorian garden theme, a wild west theme, or a kitchen garden theme. The possibilities are endless.
Next, decide on a location. Will your miniature garden be indoors or outside? If outside be sure to take sun/shade conditions into account and choose suitable plants. Outdoor gardens that are exposed to the sun and rain will need to have sturdier plants and elements than an indoor garden.
Choose the right container. Your miniature garden can be planted in almost anything: a flowerpot, a wine barrel, a basket, even an old wheel barrel. Just be sure that your container has holes in the base for drainage. If your container doesn’t have drainage you will need to make them will a drill or hammer and a large nail. Miniature gardens that are planted in flowerpots can be utilized outdoors in the summer and brought inside during the colder months.
Plant selection will depend on your garden’s location, theme, and scale of your garden. You want to be sure to check the plant tags at the nursery for light and water requirements. Try to match requirements as closely as possible as it is difficult to grow plants that need a lot of water in the same container as plants that like a more arid environment. The plant tag should also tell you the mature height and spread of the plant. You want to pay close attention to this, as plants can quickly overwhelm your design. The correct plant size will be determined by the theme of your garden. In a forest or jungle theme, the plants will be taller than the fairy or gnome and their accessories. In a more refined garden, the fairy or gnome house might be a focal point with just one or two tall plants, and the rest kept smaller, more in scale with that setting.
Using plants with different colors, forms, and textures is a great way to add interest to your garden. Try adding contrast by using combinations of big leaves and small leaves, rounded leaves with lance-shaped leaves, plants with dark green foliage with something that has chartreuse foliage. Many garden centers now carry plants specifically labeled for fairy gardens. These are plants that have a slow growth habit and will typically stay small. While it is convenient to use these plants, don’t limit yourself to them. Many plants are suitable for miniature gardens. The most difficult part of plant selection may be exercising restraint. It helps to take the container you plan to use to the garden center when shopping for plants and accessories. This way you can experiment with plant placement, making sure not to overcrowd your garden.
The soil or planting medium used will be determined by your plant selection. It is often recommended to use a bit of gravel in the bottom of the container to help with drainage. Remember, most plants do not like to have their roots in standing water. An all-purpose potting soil should be sufficient for most plants, but if you are using succulents, cactus, or herbs that thrive in dry conditions you may want to look at using a potting mix blended for succulents and cactus, or create a well-draining mix by blending 3 parts potting mix, 2 parts coarse sand or poultry grit, and 1 part perlite.
Using accessories in your garden is what makes it a true fairy or gnome garden. Ceramic items are readily available in most hobby or craft shops and are generally scaled inch-to-foot, meaning 1″ represents 1′, similar to what is used in a dollhouse. Don’t forget that you can make accessories out of twigs, leaves, pinecones, bark, just about anything. You will find many ideas for your garden in books from the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County. Books in the library’s collection include Miniature Gardens by Katie Elzer-Peters, Fairy Houses: How To Create Whimsical Homes For Fairy Folk bySally J. Smith, Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes: Create Tiny Worlds Of Fairy Magic & Delight With Natural, Handmade Décor by Donni Webber, and Fairy House: How To Make Amazing Fairy Furniture, Miniatures, and More From Natural Materials by Mike & Debbie Schramer.