A miniature garden has maximum potential. Just ask anyone who’s ever contemplated a fairy garden. When you see them on display—at a state fair or garden show, for example—fairy gardens always have a captive audience. Sometimes adults, often kids. And why not? These mini landscapes fire the imagination of young and old alike. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Think of a Theme
A fairy garden is about fantasy and imagination. You don’t have to limit yourself. Do you fancy purple unicorns and pink rabbits? If so, with a little paint, you can have exactly what suits your fancy. By the same token you can include small figurines representing anything from a kid fishing to a dog chasing a butterfly. Need some inspiration?
Find a Container
Although you can plant a fairy garden in the ground, a container can be raised to eye level and placed where the miniature landscape is best seen. Some good options you can pick up at a garage sale or thrift shop: an old drawer or tray, trunk or suitcase, bin or pan. Garden pots and windowboxes also work. Just be sure whatever you use has a hole for drainage.
Start Collecting Materials
It’s helpful to start with a building. You can repurpose a dollhouse or customize an old birdhouse. What kinds of things are you looking for? Anything that resembles the real thing but in a smaller package. Popsicle sticks for roof slats. Bits and pieces from a shattered clay pot for stepping stones. Blue aquarium gravel for water in a stream or pond. Don’t forget to include the kids in your search for materials.
Augment with Purchased Accessories
Hopefully, you can find most of what you need for free or close to it. But, save a little of your budget to buy what you can’t find—things like tiny birds, animals, gnomes, fairies, bicycles. They’re available at crafts stores, garden supply companies, ETSY and Amazon. A few strategic items can really help make a unique fairy garden.
Get Your Plants
Look around for plants that could pass for miniature versions of full-size specimens. This would include those with small leaves and interesting textures, such as Irish moss, dwarf juniper, rosemary, oregano, moss phlox and portulaca. Since it’s a fairy garden, you can always mix in unusual plants that have that wonderland look, such as the cacti and red and orange celosia shown here. Augment, if needed, with items from the garden center.
Make a New World
Put down a layer of landscape fabric to keep soil from seeping through the drainage hole, then fill your container with a soilless potting mix that includes slow-release fertilizer and moisture-holding crystals (for easier maintenance). Place your largest hardscaping features, then start planting. Once the buildings, paths and plants are in place, you can move to the smaller details. Bright, indirect light and regular watering are best. A little morning sunlight is okay, but all-day sun can dry out miniature plants quickly.