I do not have a green thumb, yet every year I spend way too much money and time planting flowers that I know I’ll forget to care for. Now that my youngest two kids are 10 and seven years old, they’ve taken over the flower watering duties. Thanks to their efforts, for the past couple of years we have actually kept flowers alive all summer.
But this summer, flowers aren’t enough for my little gardeners. This year, we jumped into the world of fairy gardens. In my mind, it was a simple project: buy the flowers, dig out the flowerpots from storage, buy a few fairy accessories, and boom you have a fairy garden.
Boy was I wrong.
Fairy gardens are a real thing, a real project. Who knew?
Lucky for me, I have a great friend (If you’re a regular reader of this magazine you might know her. Her name is Marci.) who knows lots and lots and lots about fairy gardens and was willing to help my girls plant theirs.
Ten-year-old Lizzy scored an old fire pit from the neighbors, giving her lots of space to plant her garden. Morgan, age 7, just had a large flower pot (and argued for hours about how her life is not fair. Sisters are awesome.) We filled both with potting soil, laid out their flowers, and then got creative. My dear friend Marci brought the entire contents of her craft room to our driveway where she set up a fairy garden station.
While there really are no rules when it comes to fairy gardens, we discovered a few tricks that make the project a little more fun. Here are our top three fairy garden tips, in case you decide you want to create your own:
- Raid your craft supply and closets! You don’t have to buy your fairy garden accessories. Use what you have on hand—buttons, wire, ribbon, wooden skewers, popsicle sticks, tulle, wine bottle corks, glitter—anything you have on hand. Use your imagination! And don’t forget some glue, paint, and markers. The garden itself can be in whatever your choose—a bucket, old wagon, or a wooden barrel.
- Start with a basic plan. Plant selection and placement is part of the planning, but think about the story or theme you would like for your fairy garden. Will it be a fairy picnic? Does it tell a story of a fairy’s life with a pathway, duck pond, and tiny lights? Use your imagination! (Or make Pinterest your friend!) Your plan might change as you go, but it will help to know what you will need to make for your fairy garden and what you need to save room for.
- Let it happen! If you tend to be a perfectionist, this is a project to free yourself! It’s all about imagination, getting glue on your fingers, some dirt and paint on your hands, and not worrying about making mistakes. Just have fun; maybe even allow yourself to imagine your fairy garden from the fairy’s perspective.
In the interest of full disclosure, those tips were from Marci. My role was to glue stones onto a plastic cup for Lizzy’s fairy house. But as I glued, I learned a few important lessons that apply beyond fairy gardens.
Pinterest is dangerous. So is Marci. She’s like a walking Pinterest/Martha Stewart. It’s one of the things I love about her. I hope my daughters realize how lucky they are to have her in their lives. She is patient, kind, creative, and funny. Watching her help Morgan with her glitter bomb of a fairy garden made my heart happy. Good role models are so important for girls and my girls have one of the very best.
When it comes to glitter, you can’t have enough. I don’t buy glitter because I hate the mess it makes (I’m really not a neat freak, I just don’t have time to clean up a glitter mess and the men in my family don’t appreciate glitter on their hunting gear.) Morgan’s fairy garden is a glittery mess. She sprayed her fairy house with pink glitter spray paint (there’s a patch of pink glittery grass in our front lawn that will likely be there all summer) and then dumped more glitter on her flowers, along with a jar of play sand. It’s not what I would have done, but it is exactly what she wanted, and who am I to suppress her creativity? By the same token, Lizzy’s fairy garden looks nothing like what I would have done, but it fits her personality and so it is just perfect.
A little dirt is good for the soul. We had the best afternoon creating fairy furniture, planting flowers, and giggling. The girls are already planning more craft days with Marci, and I’m not sure who is more excited, them or Marci. I’m excited because it will force them to put away the iPads, logout of Netflix, and use their brains, hands, and creativity.
As for the fairy gardens, so far, so good. The girls have been able to keep their flowers alive. But some of the things they put into the fairy gardens might blow away (All. That. Glitter.) If that happens, it means we get to do it again. And with any luck, round two of the fairy gardens will be another chance to spend time with Marci, and that’s worth a little glitter mess.