One of the my favorite activities this summer was making a fairy garden. It was originally intended for my six-year old, but her little brother loved it as well and the two of them play with it for hours. Now that I know the magic of a fairy garden in keeping small children entertained and mostly not fighting, I’m kicking myself for not making one sooner.
As fairy gardens go, ours was smallish and uncomplicated — I’ve seen pictures of gardens online made in giant trunks or whiskey barrels. We put ours in a window box planter and found there was plenty of room for our fairy landscape.
We planted wooly thyme, two small containers of moss and some violets in the garden. Herbs work great as plants because they are on the smaller side — something like a little rosemary plant makes a lovely tree. We scavenged the rocks from our yard and found the miniature houses in the tchotchke aisle at the thrift store. The kids added a small metal bowl (a prep bowl from the kitchen) to make a lake and half-buried another bowl to make a cave.
The beauty of this project is that it’s never really finished. So the kids can play with the garden both as it is, or they can spend time and imagination finding things to add to it all summer. It was one of the simplest things we did that was a constant source of entertainment.
It was also a good exercise in control — or rather, giving it up — for me. Because if I had a fairy garden, I’d set it up like this:
The kids, however, went another direction with my garden their garden:
Why, yes, those are individual packages of Kleenex with pictures of Snoopy on them. They’re for the fairy to sleep on. I suppose I should be thankful the kids didn’t take all the Kleenex out of the package and strew it around the yard. As for the fox, who appears dwarfed by the Dixie cup next to him, I can only assume he’s a fairy pet or friend of some kind. The Giant Butterfly’s role is a little baffling to me.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I kind of wanted to clean this up. I wanted the fairy garden to be pretty and sweet and enchanting-looking. But I left it alone, because I’m pretty sure the kids find it all these things as it is.