Nature’S Magic In Miniature

Only imagination limits creation of tiny ‘fairy gardens’


Holly Crump presented a free class on miniature gardens at Plant Fair Nursery.

Holly Crump presented a free class on miniature gardens at Plant Fair Nursery. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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As a child, I was a firm believer in enchanted worlds.

We had a book of fairy tales and nursery rhymes and I could swear the illustrations on the first two pages changed places every time we opened the book. We lived in the Pacific Northwest at the time and I also knew there was a whole world of fairies and other little people living in the rich, emerald green moss growing everywhere.

The class on creating miniature gardens presented at Plant Fair Nursery this Saturday rekindled childhood fantasies. When you make a miniature garden, you invite the fairies and little people to pay a visit and maybe linger a while. That’s why some people refer to the miniatures as fairy gardens.

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These “fairy gardens” consist of any container, good soil, plants and tiny furniture “to invite the fairies and little people to pay a visit.”

The free class was presented by Holly Crump, who has made the gardens for several years. She inspired both her daughter, Amity, and her mother to start the tiny gardens as well.

The process is simple: get a container, fill it with good soil to about 1-1/2 inches from the top, pick your plants and furniture. Crump says she always tries to make sure the design has a pathway to invite visitors into her gardens.

“It’s a way to garden without being overwhelmed,” she says.

One of Crump’s gardens grows in an old-fashioned cosmetic case (luggage), a more recent one is built in a large, broken pot, turned on its side. Presenting the class, she created a miniature garden in about 15 minutes, testing how different plants would look combined with a small, wire arbor and brightly painted, dollhouse-size furniture. She suggested designing with different height plants: something to represent trees, then bushes and finally a ground cover. Some plants she recommended were sage, Kent Beauty oregano, wooly thyme and angel vine, also known as wire vine. Crump especially likes using herbs in her creations because they can be used in cooking too.

She incorporates a wide variety of succulents into her designs. She likes to use annuals to bring color into her projects, especially in summer. Some plants will winter over, she said.

Anything will serve as a container — regular terra cotta pots, both whole and broken or boxes. To add dimension, pots within pots can be used; or as one participant showed, the potting soil can be shaped into terraces to create different levels in the design.

The array of furniture and accessories available at Plant Fair for fairy gardens was wonderful. Picking those pieces looked like the project’s most entertaining aspect. There were “houses” made in gourd shapes — one erect, another on its side and one made as if from pine cones and even a “mushroom fairy outhouse.” There were benches and chairs, pathways, bridges, all kinds of arbor structures and even a forest pool piece.

Creating a miniature garden to invite the fairies and little people to visit and stay a bit is limited only by your imagination. Let dreams of enchanted places be the guide to your design.

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