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Mountain design & style: Create your own fairy gardens

Marty Jones
Special to the Tribune
Fairy gardening is a great cold-weather activity to share with friends and family.
Townsend Bessent / Vail Daily |

Although spring is in the air, the chances of snow for the month is usually a sure bet. If the cold season has left you missing the joy of cultivating vegetables or flowering perennial plants in the summer, then a winter gardening project such as creating a fairy garden can keep you happy until it’s time to seed your plants again come spring.

FAIRY GARDENING: A GROWING TREND

Fairy gardens are essentially miniature gardens that capture the elements of traditional outdoor gardens including landscape architecture, plants and garden accessories — but on a much smaller scale. Fairy gardens often take on a whimsical appearance with tiny figurines arranged into a scene that’s surrounded by live plants. Yes, a fairy garden can include a figurine of an actual fairy, which is a mythical being known to have magical powers. Fairies are normally portrayed as female human-like forms with wings, but other mythical and magical figures such as gnomes and goblins can also be included in fairy gardens.

As magical creatures, fairies capture the imagination and spirit of fairy gardening, which can stir your creativity while allowing you to practice your gardening skills within the warmth of your own home. Fairy gardening has become a growing trend, and several suppliers make fairy garden kits, figurines and accessories specifically with this purpose in mind. The final product can be as small as a single pot or as big as you’d like, but most fairy gardens work well as live accent pieces that can provide interest as table centerpieces or on countertops.

Fairy gardening is a great cold-weather activity to share with friends and family. Children love caring for small plants and often get caught up in the more imaginative aspects of creating a fairy garden, from picking out supplies to sprinkling fairy dust — otherwise known as glitter — on the final product.

DIY FAIRY GARDENING

The essential elements of a fairy garden include a container, soil, small plants, figurines and other small-scale gardening accessories. While it may be easiest to purchase a fairy gardening kit to get your first indoor garden started, it’s also possible to extend your imagination and source supplies needed from what you may already have within your home. A kit will normally include a box or other container to hold the soil, along with plants and accessories that you can arrange according to your own artistic instincts.

Plants appropriate for fairy gardens include those that will keep their small size over time as well as those that can be trimmed to stay small. Ferns also make nice fairy garden additions because they usually have interesting leaf textures. As with all indoor plants, choose aspect and location carefully to make sure that they receive the proper amount of light, and then water according to their needs. Houseplants often need less water during the winter months, but if you have placed the garden in a warm, sunny location, they will need to be watered more frequently. Some plants that survive in fairy gardens all winter will also grow well outside during the summertime, making a fun patio table centerpiece that can be enjoyed all year long.

FINAL TIPS AND ADVICE

Choose a variety of plant types to create interesting textures and color combinations in your fairy garden. Even if you choose plants that don’t work well in your home environment initially, don’t give up on your project. Continue to monitor plants that thrive, and choose either the same or similar varieties to replace the ones you may have lost. Consider moving the garden’s location until you have found your home’s sweet spot — the space that allows optimal light and temperature conditions for the type of plants growing in your fairy garden.

Fairy gardening kits make great gifts for friends or family members, especially kids, who like gardening or who like to take on creative projects. Once you’ve sprinkled a bit of fairy dust on your final creation, you can sit back and enjoy the magic of watching this live design grow indoors under your care until you’re able to take your gardening skills back outside.

Marty Jones is the owner and manager of Colorado Alpines & Wildflower Farm in Edwards, Colorado. Marty can be reached at marty@thewildflowerfarm.com. This article also appeared in Vail Valley HOME.


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