My Material Life

Why Not Plant A Fairy Garden?

The thought of planting a life-sized garden overwhelms me. I am paralyzed by questions of what to plant and where and will we be able to water anything anyway in this drought-stricken area we live in. But a fairy garden costs so little in time, money, commitment, and water by comparison that there is just no good reason not to plant one.

What really made me want to do it is this book:

mml fairy gardening book

I’ve seen fairy gardens in pots before, but the artistry of the gardens in this book is something else entirely. The fairies themselves, the elegant bits of architecture, the way the fairies take an active part in the scenes – maybe even interacting with an animal or some other piece of the garden – these things set the work of Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner apart in the world of fairy gardening. A world I admittedly know very little about, but I do know what I like.

mml another elder fairy view

Let’s start with the fairies, shall we? These aren’t just any garden-variety fairies. These are based on the work of Cicely Mary Barker. They are distributed by a company called Add An Accent and you can purchase them on Amazon. Mine is the Elder Fairy. I selected her because I was originally going for an Isadora Duncan-themed garden. I recently read her autobiography and wanted to use a fairy who resembled one of these dancing girls …

mml isadora girls

They are so Isadora, aren’t they? I clipped this circa 1914 image from an unknown magazine. I was going to place the Elder Fairy among some cake-decorating columns placed like a temple, but then I found the gazing ball at my local garden center and that seemed more suitable for my pot.

mml fairy garden planting

These are the things I used to plant my fairy garden. The book is great for plant suggestions. I used Dwarf Japanese Red Cedar, San Jose Juniper, Erodium and Irish Moss. I found the little white rocks and larger stones in my garage.

mml deer in fairy garden

I didn’t really have a plan, so I figured out where to put things as I went along. The stones back by the trees and the deer were things I decided to add when I finished planting. I really wanted a little ceramic rabbit to place on one of those stones, but I didn’t have one. But that’s a nice little deer from Samantha’s old plastic figure collection.

Are you someone who is, as they say, out with the fairies? Then here are a couple of other things to check out …

Have you seen the movie, Fairy Tale: A True Story? This one is about the English girls who claimed to take photos of fairies in the early 1900’s. Did they or didn’t they? Watch the movie and find out! Or maybe you are an Isadora fan? Have you seen Vanessa Redgrave play her in the movie, Isadora? I haven’t, but it must be wild when you consider Isadora’s free-spirited and tragic life and the time period when the movie was made (late 60’s).



Have you ever seen a fairy in a jar? Click on the photo to see her in action and find more of the amazing work of Davy and Kristin McGuire.

Not out with the fairies? You can still create your own miniature garden without them. There are several good miniature gardening books that were recently published with not a fairy in sight – but don’t be surprised if one or more move in anyway.


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