Fairy Gardens
Join me, Carla J. Nelson, here to explore
all the different ways fairies can add
enchantment to your garden.

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Black Cohosh
Cimicifuga racemosa
Fairy Candles

A native plant highly valued by Native Americans for multiple
purposes.  Jack Sanders wrote in Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles: "Anyone who has ever seen its tall, furry, white racemes of flowers will know instantly why they have been called "fairy candles."
Absolutely ethereal to encounter on a summer evening stroll near a woodland or in the garden.
Monarda fistulosa
(Wild bergamot)

A showy native in many regions of the U.S.  The flowers are favorites of bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths and hummingbirds.  When crushed, it gives off a pleasant menthol smell.  Fresh and dried leaves and flowers make a delicious herbal tea.
Asclepias tuberosa

Not to be confused with the popular butterfly bush.
Another native plant of North America, this is so named because it attracts butterflies.  In Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles, Jack Sanders tells that Delaware Indians called it by a name that meant, "where butterflies light."
Gorgeous in the garden!
A lovely little fairy girl amidst the clover, a favorite of faery folk, who believe it brings good luck!
Mountain Mint
(Pycnanthemum muticum)
A beautiful addition to a moonlight garden.  Blue-gray velvety leaves with tiny clustered flowers. 
The beautiful flowers above are Zephyranthes.  They are commonly called  fairy lilies or
rain lilies.

These are particularly special because they were given to me by my neighbor, Faye.  The "Faye" in my book,
Beyond Betwixt Between
is named for her.  Faye acquired her original bulbs from an elderly relative over seventy years ago.  Faye died in 2005 at
the age of 98.

These are truly cherished heirlooms!
Beyond Betwixt Between
By Carla J. Nelson

Available on etsy.com
Look for
Another variety of Rain Lily or Fairy Lily.
but with
white blossoms.

Hummingbird Moth On
Monarda fistulosa
I purchased the charming silhouette above from Collections Etc on ebay.com
The charming pair catches everyone's eye
Teach a child
To know an herb.
Teach a child
To grow an herb.
In days to come,
They'll not forget,
That wondrous day,
Or you, or it.

Carla J Nelson
Looking for a great seed source?  Check out:
Renee's Garden at
Renee has a lovely selection of flower, vegetable and herb seeds sure to suit any gardener's fancy - and that of fairies too!  And her seed packets are truly
works of art.

Fairies love herbs, wild creatures and rhymes.
In-between places, in-between times.
Midnight, noon, wood sorrel and toads,
Caves in the hillside, bends in roads.

From:  Fairy Crafts, Gardens and Teas
Copyright:  Carla J. Nelson

What is a fairy garden?  Realistically, all of the natural world is a fairy garden.  It's similar to wondering what is a human "garden?"  Anywhere humans can exist, supply their needs and feel comfortable would qualify.

A "fairy garden" can be an herb garden filled with fragrant, healthful, delectable plants.  What fairy (or human) wouldn't be drawn to the myriad of textures, colors, shapes and aromas found there?  Want to elevate an herb garden to "fairy" status?  Add a charming fairy statue.  Just its presence will proclaim to one and all, "There is a  human attuned to the World of Faerie about."

The same goes for a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a rock garden, a water garden, a forest, a public garden and on and on!  No matter their size, configuration, type of plants, garden conceits, etc., any place where elements of nature abide, fairies might also.  And adding any sort of item that suggests you have an affinity for fairies (whether you truly believe in their existence or not) is like putting out a welcome mat. 

And then, of course, there are miniature fairy gardens that people create.  Some ask, "When is a miniature garden a fairy garden?"  Easy enough to answer.  When it includes items that suggest Wee Folk might abide there or visit there.  When it seems to send a invitation to faerie folk.  When it tickles a human's imagination and for a brief instant they can envision the presence of fairies in the scene.   It's purely personal!  It's whatever speaks to you.

When it comes to attracting fairies,
Here's a tip that's proven true.
Any flower or herb or moss
Or tree or shrub will do.

It's fun and easy to create a charming table top fairy garden like this one.  My inspiration came from the little fairy house my grandson, Austin, made me in art class in elementary school. As you can see, the garden uses a flat basket as a base.  I cut blocks of dry foam used for artificial flower-arranging to line the bottom of the basket, then covered it with moss.  This creates the perfect base for inserting miniature flowers, etc.  Various twigs and branches were woven or glued together with a hot glue gun to form fences, gates, etc.  You can form paths with small, flat rocks.

Above is the little Granny Fairy I formed out of Sculpey Clay (available at any craft store).
Then I painted her with acrylic craft paint and sprinkled her with glitter.  She's a little primitive, but I like her that way. 
Note that her wings look a little stubby.  It seems that some elder fairies' wings shrink much like humans do as we get older.

"Stumping" For Fairy Gardens
You can easily transform an unsightly tree stump into a charming fairy house like the one shown above.  Create walks and garden walls with stones, doors and windows with twigs.  Add some flat stones on top to simulate a roof and surround it all with low growing thyme plants.   Then let your imagination take over.  I've added a miniature wooden fence, birdhouse and arbor.  A small twig bench sits behind the house - a perfect place for a fairy to rest a spell and enjoy the view.  Visitors will be enchanted when they discover this.
Herbalists and fairy devotees have long held that fairies are attracted to beds of thyme.  Shakespeare's, A Midsummer Night's Dream includes the famous line, "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows . . . . . . "  There are numerous references in literature about thyme being the realm of fairies. 

Thyme, be it the wild or the garden variety comes in hundreds of different cultivars.  There is elfin thyme, orange thyme, lemon thyme, caraway thyme, lavender thyme, silver thyme, white moss thyme, coconut thyme, variegated leaf thymes and on and on.  Most local nurseries now carry a nice selection and an endless array is available online at specialty herb nurseries and on ebay.com.

Whether you believe in fairies or not, thyme is a charming addition to any garden, particularly if you give it its own unique setting.  Here I've combined a number of different varieties of creeping thymes.  I planted them in an old iron wheel between the spokes, giving each its own separate space.  Of course, I couldn't resist placing a fairy in the center.  She feels right at home here!

Clematis - Fairy Intriguing
       Clematis vine.  Isn't this a stunning specimen?  This lovely sight greeted visitors to my neighbors' back door this past Spring.  The blooms lasted for weeks and never failed to take your breath away every time you saw them. 
       Clematis comes in hundreds of cultivars and is readily available at any plant store or from multiple mail order sources online.  This type originated in China.  England also has one variety of clematis native to the British Isles.  It is in John Gerard's Herbal (1597), that he dubs it, "Travellers-Joy," because it grew wild in hedges,  greeting travelers throughout the countryside and giving them joy at the sight of it. 
     Other herbals list a number of medicinal uses for this plant.  It is still used in some homeopathic remedies.  Probably its most important "medicinal" attribute is how its beauty touches the soul and lifts the spirits

The picture to the right shows the seed pod whorls in various stages of development.  Some are still defined and tightly swirled.  Others are already fluffing.  John Gerard had this to say about England's clematis in his 16th Century Herbal:  ". . . . among which come forth clusters of white floures, and after them great tufts of flat seeds, each seed having a fine white plume like a feather fastned to it, which maketh in the Winter a goodly shew. . . . . "

The picture below is a close up view, clearly showing what I like to think of as "fairy mops."
And here's my little fairy maid with clematis mop in hand helping with the household chores.  She's very industrious!  To think she was sitting in an antique shop with no idea when she might be rescued, if at all.  I "sculpted" her a pair of wings out of Sculpey clay from the craft store, dusted her with glitter and Voila! 

If you're reading this page and haven't read the September 28th blog entry on Claraya's Fairy Blog, you'll have to check it out.  There it tells you how serendipity played a role in all of this.  Fairies!  Serendipity!  Life is full of enchantment if you keep your eyes open to it.  Who knows what lies around the next bend in the road.

Banishing The Winter Blues
When frost sneaks in overnight and lays waste to your lovely garden, take heart.  It may herald the end of nurturing plants outdoors until next Spring, but indoors is an entirely different matter.  Fall is the perfect  time to turn your attention to gardening in miniature.  The options are boundless.

When it comes to choosing plants for a tabletop garden, I love succulents.  There are so many varieties with a multitude of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors.  The trick  for me is narrowing the selection down to fit the pot I've chosen with enough room left over to "decorate."  

As you can see in the picture shown here, I've incorporated different heights, leaf sizes, and varying shades of green to mimic a garden spot you might find outdoors. Succulents like a sandy soil so I mix half sand and half potting soil to accommodate them.  You can also purchase special potting mixes just for succulents.

The little "flagstone" patio area has a sand base.  I used limestone pebbles from my driveway for the "stone," pressing them into the sand to create a flat surface.  With plants and "hardscape" in place, whimsey takes over.  How about a shepherd's hook to hold a gourd birdhouse?  The "hook" was made from a piece of stripped electrical copper wiring.  The birdhouse is a tiny heirloom spinner gourd perfect for wee fairy birds to nest in.

I fashioned the birdbath from Sculpey brand oven-bake clay.  It is a perfect medium for crafting all sorts of fairy-related items - even fairies themselves.  It's inexpensive and readily available at any craft store.  I found the tiny little bird assortment at the craft store too, where they feature accessories for miniature doll houses.    The miniature bee skip is formed out of twine and glue.  I purchased the quaint garden bench and its lovely fairy occupant at one of my favorite places,  Stream Cliff Herb Farm and Winery in Commiskey, Indiana.  

If you're not a crafter (or a wanna-b-one), not to worry.  There is an endless array of miniatures available online and in local craft stores.  For me, searching for these items or finding ways to improvise my own,  is half the fun. 
Banishing The Winter Blues II
Weary of cold, gloomy Winter days?   Here's yet another example of how to chase those Winter blues away.  A quick trip to your local nursery can quickly put Spring in your day.  By creating even just a small little basket garden like the one shown here will lighten your spirits and get you through the dark days.  (You might want to pick up some seeds to start too.  There's nothing like nurturing that "hope in your heart.")

Here I've used a simple twig basket with a plastic liner filled with potting soil.  A few small plants with varying textures and heights were then added.  You can hide the soil with any kind of moss you prefer.  With the addition of a charming fairy figurine, maybe a miniature woodland creature or two, you soon have a delightful, growing portable garden - easy to move around to catch those fleeting Winter rays.

Two charming little fairy girls teeter-tottering amidst the flowers on a sunny afternoon. 
Who wouldn't find such a garden scene enchanting?!
Creating a fairy garden is as easy as strategically inserting a fairy figurine into the picture.
Here an adventurous fairy lady appears to be dipping her toes into the water garden.
What a way to spend a summer afternoon.  Ah - the bliss!
There is simply no end to the possibilities when it comes to creating fairy gardens.  The charming little Adirondack chairs in the garden above were discovered at our local nursery, as was the varigated bonsai that anchors the upper right hand corner and hosts a bird's nest.  The little placemats and napkins were cut from a worn, old doily.  The acorn cups await a pot of tea to sip with the wee biscuits in the acorn bowl.  The top from a champagne bottle made a perfect barrel pot to put miniature flowers in.  The bird house in the bed of Sweet alyssum is a tiny, Tennessee spinner gourd.  The only questions one is
ever left to answer are "When do I stop?  Am I done yet?"

A close-up of the little table set for fairy tea.  Incidentally, the "table" is actually a piece of petrified wood that my parents purchased at the Natural Bridge in Virginia on their honeymoon in 1936.  Imagine!  Here it is now, the center of a tea party for a fairy couple.
The Trumpet Vine Man
Sometimes, a fairy garden includes more than just fairies - or fairy plants.  I created The Trumpet Vine Man shown here using the post with the twining vines and leafy canopy of a yellow trumpet vine (you know, that plant with the blossoms that children make witches fingers from).  I nailed on a wide piece of bark that had a hole right where a mouth should be.  Then I added the eyes and nose from one of those tree face kits you can purchase at garden centers or online.  His gray hair and beard are Spanish moss.  He looks a bit intimidating which in fine since he guards the gate to our backyard.  But he's become a favorite of the local fairies and a great conversation piece.
"Little Scholar" Fairy Boy
The enchanting statue above (called "The Little Scholar")  is a replica of a marble sculpture we saw years ago behind the restaurant at the world famous Middleton Place outside Charleston, South Carolina.  I fell in love with the little guy and this concrete replica has been a fixture in my garden ever since.  With everything  bursting into bloom recently, I found  myself unable to resist adorning him with a pair of sparkling fairy wings.  He didn't mind a bit.  And it seems this year there are even more bees, butterflies and hummingbird moths (perhaps, even fairies) buzzing about than ever before.  Amazing how just the addition of a pair of fairy wings can transform a space.
Middleton Place - Charleston, South Carolina
Middleton Place is recognized as the oldest formal gardens in the United States.  The picture here is an aerial view of the extensive property.  It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is open to the public year round.  If you're interested in exquisite gardens, American history, Colonial times, the romance of the South, old plantations,  then Middleton Place is a must-see, must-experience.  It's impossible to even begin to tell you about it here.  For information check out:  www.middletonplace.org
A picture of the marble "Little Scholar"
at Middleton Place.
Having misplaced my own picture
of this sculpture, I frantically
searched the Internet for one.  I was
very surprised to have little luck.
Finally, after approaching the search
from many different ways, I
discovered a blog that had
just what I was looking for.

Thank you to
Orchids Aloft - Chelsea Garden Show - 2013
Imagine walking under this gorgeous array of orchids suspended overhead.  One of my Twitter followers in the UK Tweeted this.  It appeared in the Telegraph newspaper there.  When it comes to garden shows, the Chelsea Garden Show is the quintessential event.  This is just a small representation of the wonders to see there.  It even impressed some local fairy folk!  If you're a diehard gardener, this show should be on your Bucket List!
A Garden To Inspire Fairy Gardens
I suppose you can't really call this a fairy garden.  There are no fairies in this picture (at least not ones you can see), but it is here that much of my inspiration comes from for all things faerie!  This is the view from our screened porch which is attached to a 1840's barn of hand-hewed, locally harvested virgin timber.  It is a short distance from the house (built the same time).  Beyond the tree line is a small creek bordered by woodlands on the other side and farm fields beyond that.  A perfect haven for wildlife, imaginative humans - and fairy folk.  I guess it might be considered a fairy garden after all!
Wood Sorrel Fairy Garden
Some of the best fairy gardens are those that just happen through the quirks of nature.
Such is the fairy garden above.  I have grown Hens & Chicks in this shallow pot for years.  After over-Wintering outside this past year, Wood Sorrel plants unexpectedly began
to sprout in between the Hens & Chicks in the Spring.  But, although they are thriving,
they remain miniatures - just tiny replicas of what they should be.
In other words, "fairy-sized."
When one of the Hens & Chicks produced an upright stem with blossoms that appears
to be an unusual tree, the whole effect set my imagination in a spin.
The addition of a fairy and some rocks quickly produced an intriguing fairy garden.


Windowsill Fairy Garden
Fairies are simple folk and love it when humans keep things simple!  And no fairy garden could be simpler than this.  Just place your favorite fairy figurine amidst some
lovely vining foliage and "Presto!"  Instant fairy garden!
Beyond Betwixt Between's Pitter
This charming garden statue conjures up images of the fairy boy featured in my enchanting Beyond Betwixt Between.  Through the growing season, he gets moved around, enhancing one feature of the garden after another.  He adds a touch of whimsey and delight wherever he shows up.  It's just that easy to create a little garden fantasy.  You can do it too!
A Pair of Kindred Spirits
The frog prince watches protectively as the dainty fairy girl indulges in a wee nap.  It's great fun to let your imagination be your guide when looking at ordinary garden scenes.  Any can quickly be transformed into weaving a magical tale.
A Church-y Herb Garden
No, you won't spot a fairy here, but they do love this place and frequent it often.  Old church pews acquired at an auction for a song,  add a rustic charm to this herb garden.  There simply is no end to the possibilities when creating any type of garden.  Nothing else feeds your creativity like flowers and herbs and beautiful, fragrant growing things.
Did you know fairies have a special affinity for rocks.  Some fairies believe that the spirits of ancient fossilized beings are preserved in them.  Some Native American cultures believed something similar and referred to rocks as Stone People.  Regardless of what you might believe, rocks are intriguing and beautiful.  Their varying shapes, sizes, colors, textures - all lend something special to any kind of garden.
A Fairy Tea Party In The Garden
Well, someone has set a table for two for an afternoon tea party.  Is this not just the quaintest little scene?  Yes, you can buy all sorts of fairy furniture online and in local craft and garden nursery centers BUT you can also make your own!  That's what I did here.  I tell you more about the process on the crafts page.  Here, you can just lose yourself in this charming little scene and pretend you're having a spot of tea with a dashing fairy prince - or princess!
Just so you can appreciate more of the detail, here's a close up.  I can almost feel the warmth coming off the teapot.  Oh, and I made the teapot, as you can see, from acorns.  The spout is an acorn stem.  The handle is a partial piece of a small cap.  Such fun!
Nature's Own Fairy Havens
Just look at all the different types of mosses growing here.  Most people don't think about creating moss gardens.  In fact, most people view the presence of moss as something negative.  It's too moist.  It's too shaded.  It's a sign something is wrong with the soil.  But moss is beautiful!  And there are so many varieties, as you can see here.  It's interesting that I found a toadstool has popped up unexpectedly.  Or maybe that was planned.  You don't see any fairies here, but it's almost a given that they've been here.  Wee folk are particularly drawn to moss gardens.  It feels so comfy on their dainty bare feet.  Just imagine how it would feel - soft, spongy, cool moss underfoot.  I wish my feet weren't so big!
Another lovely bed of moss just waiting for the evening festivities.  When the moon comes out, the fairies will too.  Let the reveling begin.  Think of this as a fairy dance floor!
Ah, what a bucolic scene!  Outside a fairy portal in a tree, sits a moss draped table with acorn cups ready for sharing a spot of tea.  There might even be a bit of dancing on the soft moss carpet - or perhaps a wee nap.