Last Saturday morning, my daughter and I headed to Homewood Nursery in Raleigh for their Fairy Garden Make & Take Workshop.
Homewood is an awesome garden center off of Honeycutt Road well-positioned in an area of North Raleigh known for scenic winding roads and expensive, beautiful mini-mansions whose owners have unlimited budgets to spend on making their yards gorgeous. I am not jealous.
They have a huge variety of plants native to the Piedmont region on the landscaped grounds, as well as an indoor gift shop with seasonal décor, and huge, bright, sunny greenhouses with a variety of tropicals, a sea of poinsettias at Christmas, container design services, and more.
I love it there, as much as I love all garden places – it’s peaceful and quiet, with shady paths and bridges, and I always see things there that make me wonder why I hadn’t thought of it myself. The girls like to try to find the resident cat, who is often lounging among the ground covers, eyeing up the plethora of fish in the koi pond. I imagine what my yard could look like, if I had a full-time staff, a sprinkler system, and heavy equipment to keep it looking nice. But I digress. Fairy gardens.
My daughter has been interested in the little fairy gardens ever since we first saw Homewood’s greenhouse display and who could blame her? They are whimsical, miniature woodland scenes filled with plants and mushrooms (not real) and houses and, of course, fairies, that can be created in any container that suits your fancy.
They’re like a dollhouse or perhaps something out of The Hobbit, a way to actually achieve the beautiful, lush fantasy garden, where deer won’t mow down every last bit of greenery, excellent soil is finally a possibility, and I can control the amount of rain – not too much, not too little (okay, as long as I remember to water, which is iffy). So when I heard about the design class from their email newsletter, I had to sign us up.
We arrived right at 10:30 a.m. and along with about fifteen other attendees, we listened to a brief introduction by one of Homewood’s gardeners who explained that we could utilize the small bags of potting soil, pick out a container and any accompanying fillers, and get to work.
To be honest, I was hoping to gain a bit more information about how the gardens were constructed. I suppose in the end, they’re fairly self explanatory, but I was really was a little confused about the base in particular. What do they use??? Potting soil??? Sand? Rocks??? I am someone who requires explicit, detailed instructions.
Either way, G had a fabulous time bouncing through the greenhouse looking for just the right container and moss, and many, many trips were made from our table to the displays and back as we debated a bag of blue and white glass pebbles to simulate water, searched for tiny fairies and mushroom houses, and contemplated the menagerie of tiny, living plants.
We settled on the pebbles, a little bridge, two tiny fairies, two houses, two succulents, a fern, a little bird house, and a shallow plastic pot. (I figure succulents were a good choice as they don’t require that much water, and thus less likely to die from our certain inattentiveness. We’ll have to see how the fern does).
Constructing the garden was fairly simple (no pun intended). We started with regular potting soil – turns out that plain old soil is, in fact, what goes in the bottom – filled not fully to the top of the container, and then buried the roots of our plants in the dirt, adding a layer of moss to finish it off.
The moss provides a good base for whatever little houses and things you choose to add later, keeping them from getting dirty or from getting lost in the dirt. You can use whatever type you want – it comes in loose bundles or rolls. We used a sanitized, dyed spanish moss. I might suggest some floral foam to put under the dirt, if you want some extra stability for items that have little wire stakes in them, like signs or birdhouses.
Next we positioned the houses and other items, added the pebbles and bridge to simulate a little stream, and voila! Though my attempts at creativity with these sorts of things sometimes falls short, I think our garden turned out well.
With our project finished, we spent some time chatting about future plans for an outside garden nestled at the base of the tree near our deck, potential container options, and methods to keep the squirrels out of it (are miniature pitchforks and spears an option?) I shared my idea for a beach-themed scene which my traditionalist daughter promptly shot down. (I’m still going to make one – she can’t do anything about it) before paying for our purchases.
Though the workshop was free, supplies ended up costing about $50. But take heart – you can achieve a fairy garden for much less – a larger bag of potting soil for multiple gardens, some natural items foraged from the yard, and any container will do – even an old teacup or broken clay pot will work.
Basic items to start include:
- A container – this can be anything, from a small plastic planter, to a full-size wheelbarrow or wagon – $0 – $25 and up.
- Potting soil – $10 for a large bag.
- Live plants – fairy vine, dwarf grasses, ferns, succulents, thyme, lavendar, and miniature roses are good options – $2 – $4 each.
- Moss – $5 – $15 on average.
- Floral foam – $5
- miniatures – $3 – $5 and up.
- Rocks / pebbles – $0 – $5
If you need some design inspiration, there are a number of books on the subject, including Fairy Gardening 101 How to Design, Plant, Grow, and Create Over 25 Miniature Gardens, and Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden
If you’re local and you’d like to check out Homewood, they have another Fairy Garden workshop on February 10, at 10:30 a.m. Be sure to pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 919-847-0117.
Happy (Fairy) Gardening!
Categories: Raising Kids in Carolina