Friday, August 31, 2012

The Mostly-Native Fairy Garden

Cucumber leaf fairy stepping stone
When trying to design and build native gardens that make my entire family happy I quickly realized it meant creating a space just for my two children, both under the age of four. And so we built their Fairy Garden.

When I garden in an area I don't really want them digging in they can go to their Fairy Garden and dig all they want. I divided up some old hostas from near the greenhouse and let them decide where to plant them. I even splurged and let them have some newly purchased native lady ferns and bunch berries (which my two-year-old just trampled last night). We also poured our own concrete stepping stones with cucumber and hosta leaf impressions for their fairy path, which they move around daily wherever their fairies apparently need them.

When I decided to deed over a patch of earth to them I picked an area where I couldn't really fit anyway: the secret spot under the hemlock tree. I often found them hiding under there on warm winter days, so it was the perfect place. I edged the area, left a path all around it and let them go crazy.

Mini turtle bird bath under ginger

No Fairy Garden would be complete without a pile of sticks for fairy houses!


I have to say not only do they love the Fairy Garden, my older child knows the names of all the plants she's planted. She also feels a sense of stewardship over everything in it from the ginger to the mini concrete bird baths we made with their turtle and sea star beach molds. The Fairy Garden may not be the most attractive part of our Slow the Flow Grant native garden makeover, but I don't care. I love it just the same.

Just the other day my older child asked, as she was planting a baby hosta, "Mommy, is this hosta native?" When I said no she was disappointed and a little confused. When I explained that since it was already here when we moved, and it wasn't invasive, then it was OK. And she said "good, then all the hostas can live in my Fairy Garden."  

The Fairy Garden has definitely worked its magic. Its given my kids their own patch of earth to work and make beautiful, or destroy, depending on their mood. They're learning what plants are native, what animals use them and how to care for a garden. I'm looking forward to watching the garden grow as they grow. And I already know where to look when I can't find my garden tools. Apparently fairies need ALL my watering cans!


  1. That is true genius! I love the fairy garden and the stepping stones - very imaginative and a great way to get the kids into gardening (not that you're having any problem with that)!! Have you taken the girls to the Maine Coastal Botanical Garden in Boothbay Harbor? There are some kid areas there that remind me a bit of the magic in your garden. In one area, kids make things from the sticks and pine cones and other stuff they find; it's a little out of the way on the trail along the water, as I recall; the other (that I remember) is up near the buildings. Fun place for garden lovers of all ages.

  2. Thanks Kerry! I really did need a place to let the kids get their digging wiggles out in order to save the rest of the landscaping. Luckily they'd rather dig in "their" garden then "mine" so it worked! I've been to those gardens in Boothbay! I had forgotten about that place! Brian and I went there years ago before we had the girls, will have to add it to our list of places to bring them!


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