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Create a magical fairy garden

Register • Dec 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM

The ground is frozen. The north winds are blowing. The trees, the shrubs and the flowers have gone into dormancy. There’s no getting around it – digging in the dirt is done for at least the next couple of months.

The thought in and of itself is kind of depressing, but the reality is that gardening for those feeling withdrawal (and maybe even those interested in starting a “new” hobby) can be cured by joining with others in the old/ new craze of creating an indoor fairy garden.

Fairies are a part of Celtic lore. Depending on a person’s perspective they can be romanticized as special little creatures or living beings to be feared. A University of Illinois Extension article suggests that long ago parents feared their children could be replaced with a changeling. The legends held fairies responsible for the changeling and instructed parents to perform special rituals to determine if a child was a changeling. Creating places in the home or garden to please the fairies was said to help prevent a changeling.

Another legend is that fairies were driven away by humans and that the more industrious ones made places for themselves in gardens wearing flowers as clothes. Building a fairy garden is a fun way to imagine their existence and to while away the winter months. And some say creating a special garden for fairies just might bring luck and joy.

Fairy gardens are miniature landscapes. With a little creativity, some imagination and the proper materials, it is not too difficult to create one. First select a container – a deep dish or a container with a drainage hole works best (but don’t restrict yourself to the norm). Next fill the planter with potting soil (some people layer their gardens with pebbles for drainage, then charcoal to keep the soil fresh and then the potting soil).

Plants for the fairy garden are simply miniature (not mature) plants. Nurseries throughout the area are the best sources for purchasing plants. The plants should be compatible in terms of light requirements and the amount of water needed. The plant selection is endless. To maintain them so that they don‘t overwhelm the garden prune the plants and work at training them to take shape the way you would like them to grow. Those plants that get to large can be removed and potted for use as a regular house plant. Creating the fairy garden is like landscaping a new spot in the yard. Choose plants for height, color, texture and some that can even serve as ground cover.

The best part is selecting the accessories to define the garden. Miniatures which can be purchased in craft stores and some nurseries will polish the garden and give it a theme, or pull things from the home or the yard to craft accessories. The sky is the limit and the decision on what accessories to place in the fairy garden are the creator’s choice — a whimsical cottage setting, a playground, a romantic arbor — the possibilities are endless. All it takes is imagination — think fairies, think fun, think winter gardening at its best.

If you enjoy trying out new things, learning about plants, insects and all aspects of gardening and sharing that knowledge with others, then consider applying for the 2014 Master Gardener classes in Erie County. The Master Gardeners of Erie County will begin New Master Gardner Training on Jan. 27. Contact the Erie County Extension Office by phone or website to get information about requirements, fees, and dates.

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