Offering a fun and magical way for diehard gardeners, hobbyists and dabblers alike, fairy gardens have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. To help you get started (or give you inspiration), we’ve talked to some of our “fairy best” customers about their own fairy gardening forays!
Miniature Fairy Garden #1: Mary Joriman of Port Orchard, WA
Mary Joriman’s interest in creating small-scale worlds dates back to her childhood.
“My family traveled a lot, and I learned that a cigar box could hold a lot of little treasures that were easy to take along on long trips,” the Washington state resident says.
This led to a lifelong love affair with miniature dollhouses, and finally, to fairy gardening.
“I’ve always loved to garden,” Mary explains. “About twenty years ago I read a cute story in a gardening magazine about a woman who created a miniature fairy garden for her daughter, detailing all the things she thought to put in it, and I got interested in trying it myself.”
Fun for every age
Mary talked about how fairy gardening became such an appealing hobby for her whole family.
“It’s such a pleasant, fun hobby, great for the imagination,” Mary explains. “I work on it all year round. Best of all, it’s not physically taxing, so it’s as easy for me to take pleasure in at 71 years old as it is for my grandchildren, who love to help with ‘Grandma’s magic garden!’”
Mary began by starting a small, outdoor fairy garden for her grandchildren. Her first one was simplistic, decorated with marbles and a set of tiny wind chimes that she found in a local dime store which made a soft, tinkling sound which she told her grandchildren was the sound of fairy wings.
“I don’t put fairy figurines in my fairy gardens,” Mary explains. “I like to leave them open for the fairies to find on their own…I leave that part up to the imagination.”
Her eight grandchildren found the stories she told about the fairies who inhabited the garden enthralling, which in turn inspired Mary to become even more creative with the miniature world she had begun creating outdoors.
“After we had to cut down a tree, we had a tall tree stump in the backyard, and I made that into a sort of miniature fairy ‘condo!’” Mary says with a smile.
Mary decorated her “fairy condo” with Lego® tires and tiny furniture and accessories she found in hobby stores and pet shops that sold aquarium supplies.
And it grew from there. “The best part of this for me is that I never have to be done…there’s always more I can do,” she says.
Learning more about fairy gardening
As Mary’s interest in her hobby grew, she began taking classes at local nurseries and even hosted annual summer “fairy parties,” where the invited guests could help by painting rocks for the miniature fairy garden she had created.
“Even my husband gets in on it now,” Mary says. “I’m the ‘idea woman,’ he helps with finishing up my projects!”
Mary’s fairy garden has grown to encompass much of her large backyard.
“I’ve sectioned parts of my garden so I can have a whole ‘fairy society,’” she says. “I told my grandchildren that the fairies (who are very judgmental) had no place to go on vacation, so I made a Polynesian fairy garden with boats and everything!”
Mary notes that a person interested in starting a fairy garden doesn’t need a lot of space, though.
“You can do a lot in a little space with fairy gardens. Part of the reason this hobby appealed to me was because ours was a military family, and so we had to move a lot. Having lots of furniture makes moving more complicated…but I can put as much furniture as I like in my fairy gardens, get as fancy as I like, and it doesn’t take up a lot of room. Plus, it doesn’t clutter my house up with more stuff inside!”
Mary still has her first fairy house from Plow & Hearth, which she purchased several years ago.
“It’s held up great, which is saying something with our rainy Washington weather,” she says. “I have every fairy cottage Plow & Hearth carries, and many of the fairy furniture and fairy garden accessories, too.”
Getting creative: fairy gardening as an art form
Mary enhances her fairy garden society with small-scale vegetation like miniature pansies, which provide a lot of color, and other plants suitable for container gardening. She recommends Janit Calvo’s book, Gardening in Miniature, as a great resource for finding the right plants for fairy gardens along with advice on getting started in fairy gardening and more.
“There’s just something so enchanting about fairy gardens,” Mary says. “Working with my fairy gardens is a way for me to be artistic…I’m always changing it, making it fresh and new. Something about it is so magical…I just love watching the birds bathing and hopping about in my fairy garden, even when I’m not working in it.”