Fairy gardens have soared in popularity in the last few years.
Surely part of the appeal is the opportunity to create a fun project with loved ones. If fairies and elves are not your thing, don’t fret! Fairy gardens are simply miniature gardens with a whimsical theme. You can create a tiny garden in any aesthetic you wish. Other themes can include zen/meditation, desert, railroad, or jungle. (We are big fans of putting together a dinosaur garden theme.) Once you have your idea in mind, our friends at White Oak Gardens are here to give you the steps needed to create your perfect tiny garden.
Step One: Pick a Container
Most fairy gardens are planted in wide, shallow containers that are plastic, wood, ceramic, or concrete. This allows for optimal viewing of the scene and ease of little hands to help. But any container that can hold soil and allow drainage will work great. Wonderful gardens have been planted in old shoes, wheelbarrows, even suitcases. (Suitcases! Why didn’t we think of that? Heads off to find a fun vintage one.)
Step Two: Get Dirty!
Fill your container with a potting mix. Make sure you use a soil for containers, not topsoil. This allows for proper drainage for your plants.
Step Three: Pick Your Plants
Pick a collection of small plants for your fairy garden. Miniature plants come in a huge range of colors and habits. Some creep along the ground, others stand up like trees. You will find plants that are both hardy and not hardy. A word of advice; don’t limit your selection just to hardy plants. There are an awesome number of annual or non-hardy plants that look great in a miniature garden. Honestly, even winter-hardy plants might not survive over the winter in a fairy garden since their roots are not planted in the ground. Think of a fairy garden as an annual planter and pick plants that look great for a year. If the hardy ones survive the winter, that’s great. It is actually fun to be able to recreate a fairy garden each year with a new assortment of plants. (Let your kids help pick some of their favorites too.) Some suggestions:
- Low-growing creepers include thyme and mosses.
- Miniature spruces are good trees.
- Polka dot plants for color and ferns for unique texture.
Place the taller plants in the back of the garden and the shorter ones in front.
Step Four: Accessorize!
There is no shortage of fairy garden decorations to be found at the White Oak Gardens, your neighborhood garden center, and even craft stores. You can find figures, houses, bridges, lamp posts and just about anything else. Find the pieces that give you joy. Also, find or make your own accessories. You can use pinecones, neat rocks, unique pieces of wood, seashells, etc. This is where your unique personality really shines through. Make it your own! (Allow your children to get creative as well. You may be pleasantly surprised at with what their imaginations come up with!)
Step Five: Maintain
If your fairy garden is outside, you will probably need to water it more than if it is inside. Start with once a week. When in doubt just stick your finger into the soil to determine moisture content. Snip unruly growth of plants with scissors. You will probably need to readjust decorative elements. (Care of your fairy garden is the perfect responsibility to assign to a child who is becoming more independent and thrives on being given some autonomy! #kidwin AND #momwin.) It is also fun to change decorations of your fairy garden with the seasons. Add acorns and straw in the fall and evergreen boughs in the winter.
Miniature gardening is like any other type of gardening: you need a willingness to experiment and try different things. The fun of fairy gardens comes not from following a series of dos and don’ts but from the time spent with others in a creative project. However, if the idea of testing out your green thumb is still intimidating to you, swing by the White Oak Gardens. They are a family-owned and operated, local business, with an inherited love of plants. They would be more than happy to help you (and your littles) plan your fairy garden.
This post was written in partnership with Jeremy Newell from White Oak Gardens.
More than 50 years ago, Blue Rock Road was home to hobby rose production and the sale of small vegetable plants. Today, White Oak Gardens has grown into one of Cincinnati’s most trusted and neighborhood resources for growing and transforming your outdoor spaces.