Create Whimsical, Miniature Gardens with Handmade Fairy Furnishings
From low-maintenance desert fairy gardens to tin towns for town-loving fairies, adults and kids alike will enjoy creating their very own miniature worlds. Complete with handmade décor like spool chimneys, magical signposts, goldfish and water lily ponds, birch and pine-thatch houses and more, your gardens will transport you into your own fairytale.
Donni Webber guides you through preparation, planting and crafting magical, miniature accessories with natural materials. These adorable projects are a perfect escape from the mundane and will provide whimsy in your home, backyard or office. Children will love customizing their gardens as they imagine fairy folk visiting the charming homes and walking along the little stepping stones. Immerse yourself in magic and foster your love of gardening with this cheery, inspiring book.
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Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes
Create Tiny Worlds of Fairy Magic & Delight with Natural, Handmade Décor
By Donni Webber
Page Street Publishing Co.Copyright © 2016 Donni Webber
All rights reserved.
In the Beginning
THE BASICS OF FAIRY GARDENING
You might be surprised to find that designing your fairy garden is one of the most exciting steps in the process. Often, we are so eager to get started with planting that we forget to plan, and inadvertently miss this pleasurable step.
In this chapter, I will guide you through planning. We will discuss choosing the best container for your fairy garden and the right plants to add. We will also talk about the tools and supplies you can use to build fairy garden furniture and accessories that will be the talk of Fairyland.
TIP: Slow down and cherish each step of the fairy garden process.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONTAINER
Your fairy garden can be planted in just about any kind of container: a flowerpot, an old wine barrel, a silver soup tureen, a basket, an old wagon, a wheel barrow; the list goes on indefinitely.
You may decide to purchase a container from a garden center, or maybe you would prefer to find the perfect container at a garage sale or thrift store. Perhaps you'd like to build your own container. As long as you consider a few important features, you can be as imaginative with your container as you wish.
All containers will need holes in the base for adequate drainage, which is important for root and plant health.
If your container doesn't have drainage holes, you can make them by drilling them yourself. Use a battery drill or a hammer and a nail. My young son, Teddy, loves to drill holes into the bottom of our prospective fairy garden containers. Three to five drainage holes will usually suffice. They can range in size from ? of an inch to ¼ of an inch (3 to 6 mm) in diameter.
If you plan to display your finished fairy garden inside your home or on the patio, it is a good idea to set it on a saucer or tray, since water that drains from your container may contain minerals that stain surfaces. You can purchase a pot tray or saucer from your local garden center, or you can choose a more decorative tray in the kitchen section of home décor shops. Thrift and vintage stores sometimes have lovely zinc trays, too.
The type of plants you choose for your fairy garden will help determine the size of your container. If you choose low-maintenance plants such as succulents, you can use a shallow container, since the roots of succulents don't need much soil. But if you want plants that have more complex root systems, you will need a deeper container to hold enough soil for healthy roots. A rule of thumb for a fairy garden with plants other than succulents and cacti is to have at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) of soil for happy roots.
If you choose a particularly large container like an old chest, plan to put an upturned plastic bin or flower pot in the bottom to take up some of the volume. Make sure that there is at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) of soil above the upturned pot. This trick allows you to save on the volume of soil needed in your large container.
TIP: To save your budget, use an upturned plastic bin to cut down on the amount of soil needed for large containers.
If your container is not waterproof, you will need to seal it against water. Frequent watering will rot or split wood over the years, but sealing it will prolong its life.
There are several techniques for waterproofing a wooden container. One such method is painting the inside with a rubber sealant such as Rubber Coat, a rubber compound that you apply with a paintbrush straight onto the wood. You can purchase it from your local hardware store. A couple of coats will make your container totally waterproof and the rubber will not negatively affect the growth of your plants. I do not, however, recommend using Rubber Coat to waterproof your container if you plan to eat the plants you're growing in it.
Another waterproofing method is to line your container with sturdy plastic, such as a black trash bag, so that water doesn't come into contact with the container. Even a shoe or a basket can be used for a fairy garden if you line it with plastic first. Make sure you make adequate drainage holes in the plastic lining as well as in the container.
Consider where you will place your fairy garden. Will it remain outdoors all year or will you bring it indoors for the winter? If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, you can either replant your garden each spring or bring it indoors for the harshest part of the winter. If you choose the latter, you will need a container that is easy to move, even when it is full of soil and plants.
A quick online search will give you ideas for fun and unique fairy garden containers. The Magic Onions Fairy Garden board on Pinterest has many wonderful ideas.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS
As there is such a huge variety of plants to choose from, choosing the plants for your fairy garden can feel overwhelming at first. However, if you consider a few important points before you get started, your decisions will become much easier.
The most important step is to sit quietly and reflect upon the types of fairy folk you wish to attract. Do you want a pretty girl fairy to live in your fairy garden? Do you want a family of fairies? Perhaps you are more suited to gnomes? You will need to answer these important questions before you get started, as they will influence all aspects of your fairy garden.
Once you have determined the type of fairy folk you wish to attract, try to envision them in your garden. Build an image in your mind's eye. Is your fairy a vibrant type who would love colorful plants, or is she more gentle, preferring plants in softer shapes and hues? Would edible plants work best? When you look at the garden from your fairy's point of view, you'll be able to picture the plants that will make him or her happy. With this perspective, your vision will become wonderfully clear.
Be mindful of the scale of your plants. Your fairy garden should look like a miniature wonderland, a place where fairies and gnomes feel totally at home.
Keep the ground cover simple. Moss is often the main ground cover in a fairy garden, and too many other plants may detract from the mossy atmosphere. Garden centers have other low-growing ground cover options such as elfin thyme, creeping speedwell and creeping jenny that look beautiful in fairy gardens.
Keep in mind the color combination of your plants, making sure the colors work well together. You might choose a natural color palette of silvers, light greens, dark greens and browns, or you might opt for brighter, more colorful plants.
Incorporating varying plant textures also adds interest to your fairy garden. Look for plants with frilly leaves, such as parsley; spiky leaves, such as grasses; and soft leaves, such as lamb's ear.
Low-growing plants that have small flowers are perfect for fairy gardens, but sometimes a plant with a big flower, such as cosmos, columbine or poppy, can add to the fairy perspective as well.
A tiny tree is often the focal point of a fairy garden. Choose a plant that looks like a tree in fairy scale. Many plants and shrubs make ideal fairy trees with a little trimming and shaping. A tea tree will stay small if trimmed regularly, and it has lovely flowers which are sure to become integral parts of fairy garden play. Immature conifers are great fairy garden trees. Bonsai trees are perfect, too.
Make sure that the plants you choose require the same amount of sun and water. If you use moss, remember that moss likes sun to part shade and lots of water, and choose other plants that like the same.
If you are going for a desert garden look, pebbles, rocks and various cacti look wonderful; but if your fairy garden is going to be a children's play space, too many prickles might deter little ones from playing in it.
You may find choosing the plants for your fairy garden to be an exercise in restraint. There are many gorgeous plants, but remember that you are working within a small space. Planting too many plants in too many different colors will make your fairy garden feel cluttered. I find it helps to remember that I am not limited to just one fairy garden. I can make as many as my heart desires. This thought allows me to take a deep breath and choose the right number of plants for each garden I make.
TIP: Don't be tempted to clutter your fairy garden with too many plants.
You can obtain the plants for your fairy garden in many ways. You can purchase them, as I did, from your local garden center or online. I live in a city with manicured lawns and gardens and, sadly, few foraging opportunities. However, if you have a beautiful large garden with lots of growing plants, or if you live in surroundings where nature is generous with her gifts, you might be able to forage from the wilderness around you. Foraging can be great fun, and it can add tremendously to your fairy garden experience. Yet another option for securing the plants you need, if you are the patient type, is to cultivate your own seedlings from seeds or cuttings. Of course, doing it this way will require that you plan your fairy garden well in advance so that the plants are growing vigorously when it comes time to plant them. These last two options are attractive if you are making your fairy garden on a tight budget.
Here are some plant ideas to consider:
MOSS: Moss is the most popular ground cover for fairy gardens. Moss can be purchased in pots or in large flats from most garden centers. If you are using a lot of moss in your fairy garden, purchasing it in flats will be more economical than in small pots. If your garden center does not carry flats of moss, you can request that they special order a flat for you.
HERBS: Herbs are great for fairy gardens because they grow easily and have such wonderful fragrances, adding to the magical experience. Herbs will need to be trimmed often so they stay small. Most garden centers have an extensive herb garden section, so you will be able to choose from many varieties and sizes.
ARMERIA: Sea pinks (armeria) have lovely, spiky foliage and gorgeous fluffy flowers in whites, pinks and purples on long stems. There are even dwarf varieties that look charming in fairy gardens. Most garden centers carry a selection of armeria. You can purchase them in individual pots, in six-packs or in flats.
STRAWBERRY: Strawberry leaves are large and shady for fairies to hide under. The small white flowers are pretty and, of course, when they turn into red strawberry fruit in the summer, you and your fairies will be delighted. Strawberry plants can be found in the vegetable section of your local garden center. You can even find varieties that fruit from spring to autumn.
FLOWERS: Miniature pansies (viola) are wonderful, as are violets, forget-me-nots, snowdrops and profusion daisies. These pretty flowers can all be found at your local garden center.
Good potting soil or topsoil is important in every fairy garden, since nutritious soil will grow healthy plants. You can purchase a bag of potting soil from your local garden center. If you plan to recycle soil from your garden, I suggest adding rich, loamy compost and mixing it in well. The compost will ensure that the soil you use is high in nutrients and will aid in maintaining good soil drainage. If you do not already create your own garden compost, you can purchase it from your local garden center.
But before you visit the garden center, you will need to design the garden first.
MAPPING IT OUT
Once you have the right container for your fairy garden and have considered the types and colors of plants you prefer, the next step is to get specific in the design.
Jot down the embellishments that you wish to incorporate into your garden; for instance a garden path, a fairy fence, a pond, a table and chairs or stepping stones. You can find ideas for fairy garden embellishments throughout this book and online. Visit the The Magic Onions blog, FairyGardens.com or Pinterest for hundreds of photos of beautiful fairy gardens.
With your list of embellishments, draw a plan to scale of your fairy garden on a piece of paper. Outline the shape of your container and decide where the important features will go. Draw in the tree, the pond, the path, the plants.
TIP: Place the largest elements at the back of your garden so that they do not hide the smaller elements in the front.
Consider the height of the plants and design elements. Also, consider the symmetry or balance of your garden design. If you design something large in the back-right quarter of the garden, balance it by placing something large in the back-left quarter, too.
The map you draw will help you determine how many plants to purchase so you won't be tempted to purchase too many. Trust me, if you visit the garden center without a design plan, you'll overestimate the space you have for flowers, and you will spend money on too many lovely plants.
Always remember that this plan is a rough guide to help keep your ideas organized. It may happen, as you are putting your garden together, that you have a brilliant design idea that deviates from this plan. Great! Creativity is flowing. Go with it. Follow its course to the fairy garden magic you are seeking.
TOOLS AND SUPPLIES
There are many stores and websites, such as FairyGardens.com, where you can purchase delightful fairy garden accessories. However, it is so much fun to make some of these accessories yourself. Handmade fairy garden goodies are charming and surprisingly easy to make. With a few tools and supplies, you can make delightful fairy garden creations that can turn your fairy garden into a true fairy wonderland.
SCISSORS: A pair of sharp, good-quality scissors is essential. I prefer a smaller size for making fairy garden accessories. When you are working in miniature, small scissors can cut in small places that larger scissors can't.
GARDEN SCISSORS: A pair of sharp, good-quality garden scissors is also essential. Again, I prefer a smaller size. The smaller the tool, the greater the precision and accuracy for cutting twigs, toothpicks and the like.
WIRE CUTTERS AND PLIERS: Small sizes are best for cutting and bending wire. You can find a combination tool that doubles as wire cutters and pliers in the jewelry-making section of most craft shops.
A DRILL: A battery-operated hand drill is great for drilling drainage holes in containers and for handmade fairy garden furniture projects. Choose a drill that is light in your hands. The drill bits we use most often are / of an inch, ? of an inch and ¼ of an inch (1.6 mm, 3 mm and 6.5 mm).
SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Everyone should wear a mask and safety glasses when working with a drill, tile grout and some pungent glues.
GLOVES AND A GARDEN TROWEL: Gardening gloves and a small garden trowel are necessary for working with soil and planting the garden.
POLYMER CLAY: Many fairy garden projects require polymer clay, such as Sculpey. You can purchase it at your local craft store. Be sure to follow the baking instructions on the package when curing your creations in the oven. A word of warning: polymer clay can be difficult to get out of clothing, so wear old clothes when working with it. Also, do not put unbaked polymer clay onto painted wood surfaces like windowsills, etc., as it reacts with the paint and ruins the finish. Baked polymer clay will not harm painted wood.
POLYURETHANE VARNISH: If you will be leaving your polymer clay creations in an outdoor garden, I recommend spraying them with a few coats of water-based polyurethane sealer such as Varathane. You can purchase sealer at your local hardware store.
SCHOOL GLUE: Glue is useful in most fairy garden creations. School glue is good for small projects, especially if children are helping, because it is non-toxic and easy to work with. The disadvantages of school glue are that it takes a while to dry and that it is not 100% waterproof, so you will need to remove objects made with it before you water your garden.
GORILLA GLUE: Strong, waterproof glue such as Gorilla Glue is best for large, outdoor projects that will be watered often. Gorilla Glue is 100% waterproof. Like school glue, Gorilla Glue takes a while to set, so patience is needed. You can purchase Gorilla Glue from your local hardware store.
SUPERGLUE: Superglue is the best glue for polymer clay objects. It dries quickly. Although superglue is water resistant, I suggest that you remove items made with superglue when watering your garden. Children should not work directly with superglue because it is toxic and can stick little fingers together in seconds.
HOT GLUE: I prefer to use a hot glue gun when making fairy garden accessories because this glue sets quickly. Children seven and older do well with a hot glue gun under adult supervision. I suggest keeping a bowl of room-temperature water nearby in case of burns. Projects made with a hot glue gun are not waterproof and will need to be removed from the fairy garden for watering.
FINGER GUARDS: Finger guards help protect your fingers from burns when you work with a hot glue gun. You can purchase finger guards online or from your local craft store.
TIP: Work in a well-ventilated area when working with all glues, varnishes and paints.
Excerpted from Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes by Donni Webber. Copyright © 2016 Donni Webber. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
In the Beginning THE BASICS OF FAIRY GARDENING,
Fairies in the Flowers A TRADITIONAL FAIRY GARDEN,
Tin Town A TIN COMMUNITY FOR TOWN-LOVING FAIRIES,
Hobbiton A TERRARIUM GARDEN THAT HOBBITS WILL LOVE,
Fairies in the Desert A LOW-MAINTENANCE SUCCULENT FAIRY GARDEN,
A Gourdy Gnome Home A GNOME HOME IN A GOURD,
The Fairy Sunny House AN EXPLORATION IN FAIRY INTERIOR DESIGN,
Kindness in the Garden A "RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS" FAIRY GARDEN CREATED IN NATURE FOR STRANGERS TO FIND,
Enchantment in a Gift GIVING THE GIFT OF MAGICAL FAIRY GARDEN KITS,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful and enchanting book!
This book is delightful! I highly recommend it. The photos of the fairy gardens are truly magical and the instructions on how to make each garden (there are 7 in the book) - and all the fairy furniture included in each garden - are easy to follow, with step-by-step photos to explain each process. The introductions that precede each project are wonderfully touching and ignited my daughter's imagination (and mine too) so that we could almost imagine the fairies who would perhaps come to live in our fairy garden. We have made our first fairy garden together and we had so much fun that we decided to make all 7 from the book. To be honest, I have enjoyed this special time I've spent with my daughter just as much as she has enjoyed it. A highly recommended craft book, sparking hours of creative and imaginative activities. What a super way to get kids out in nature.