Fairy gardens are great for people with limited space, for people who want to share gardening with a child, or for people who just like being creative.
“Basically, a fairy garden is a miniature garden planted in a container or in the landscape,” explained Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. You can create a fairy garden for indoors as well as for outdoors.
To create a whimsical home for fairies, a fairy garden uses tiny furniture and garden accessories including benches, trellises, arbors, gazing balls, bird baths, watering cans and stepping stones. In the photo above, a fairy rests beside a hanging planter that contains rock foil or saxifraga. The red plant in the foreground is a heuchera, and at left is Scottish moss.
There are even fairy houses, such as the one with the thatched roof in the photo at right. The house is actually a decorated pot that is planted with sedum. A broken piece of pottery forms the walkway to the front door, and the lawn is Scottish moss. In the back, black mondo grass drapes over a bird bath.
Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses will display fairy gardens in its booth at Plantasia, Thursday through Sunday, March 22 to 25, at the Fairgrounds Event Center and Expo Hall, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg. (Get discounted admission to Plantasia with this coupon.)
Mischler’s is also creating a Fairy Nook at its Williamsville garden center, where you’ll be able to buy supplies for your fairy garden or choose a fairy garden that is already planted.
While you can buy furnishings for your fairy garden at Mischler’s, you can also make furnishings yourself, Yadon said.
“This is also a great activity for grandparents to do with their grandchildren.”
Above left, a rough-hewn bench and fence create a rustic paradise in this fairy garden. Violas add color. Behind the flowers is Scottish moss, and the upright plant behind that is sweet flag grass. Behind the bench is a miniature evergreen, and to the right along the fence is an autumn fern. Other low-growing plants add interest in the front.
At right is a fairy garden that uses indoor plants, and below left is a fairy garden that uses succulents.
Fairy gardens remind me of garden railways because they both attempt to create a scaled-down diorama. Mosses are used as grass, and small plants act as bushes or even trees.
To add more realism to your fairy garden, you might want to look for miniature and dwarf varieties of trees, which Mischler’s carries. These are the kinds of trees you might work with if you were doing bonsai.
Looking at the photo below right, you can see how small they are compared to a dime. To give you an idea of how small they stay, the specimen in the left foreground is a variety of white spruce called Picea glauca ‘Pixie’, which over the course of 10 years will grow only 12 inches tall.
Any plant with small leaves and small flowers will work well in a fairy garden. Look for ground covers, Yadon suggests. Any of the low-growing ground covers that you walk on will work.
Here are more plants that Yadon suggests using in a fairy garden:
- Succulents come in many sizes and shapes. You may be familiar with hens and chicks, which are round. Agave is tall and spiky. There are many varieties of tiny, low-growing sedums.
- Thyme, such as creeping thyme or wooly thyme, is an herb that’s fragrant as well as beautiful.
- Selaginella is a creeping plant with simple, scale-like leaves on branching stems.
- Small ferns work well, such as Japanese painted fern or tatting fern, which has a lacy look.
- Grasses, such as fiber optic grass, add texture.
- Good choices for shade include Irish moss and Scottish moss.
- Annuals, such as alyssum, can add color.
To keep the plants in your fairy garden in scale, you may have to trim them or even pull them out and replace them if they get too large, Yadon noted.
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko