Miniature and fairy gardens are a fun way to create a pint-size realistic landscape that capture the atmosphere and magnificence in a natural landscape. They are intriguing to make and catch the attention of people of all ages.
The hardest part is choosing what type of design to create. The possibilities are endless… make them as large or as small as your imagination (and space) will allow. The theme can be a beach or forest scene, a vegetable garden, a more formal garden with statues or even a hidden secret garden. Almost any tiny world you can imagine can be gathered into a small container with the right accessories and details.
Carefully plan your miniature landscape beforehand, keeping everything within scale. After deciding on a theme, you will need to choose a container and plants best suited to complete your vision. When planning your miniature landscape, consider if it will be viewed from all sides or just one. For instance, if viewed from all sides, the focal point should be placed in the center, with lower plantings around it. If your miniature landscape will be viewed from only one side, the tallest plant or structure should be placed near the back, with lower plants in the foreground.
The best containers for little landscapes have a large open surface area to accommodate as many plants and garden features into your design as possible. Wire plant stands, wide terracotta pots, wicker baskets, wagons or wheelbarrows, concrete birdbaths (maybe a cracked one), wooden boxes, and hyper tufa troughs are all good choices.
The key to creating a successful miniature garden is to ensure proper drainage right from the start. Add several holes in the bottom if your container does not have any. Aluminum screening, pottery shards or small rocks can be used to prevent soil from draining through. A layer of pea gravel will also add drainage protection.
Our favorite theme is a fairy garden. Fairy gardens are basically miniature gardens with added touches that give the appearance of a tiny creature residing in the garden. They are also normally filled with whimsical items to add to the feeling of magic. Flower fairy ornaments will complete your creation. These exquisite sculptures bring to three-dimensional life the Flower Fairy illustrations of Victorian painter Cicely Mary Barker. Delicately detailed Flower Fairies bloom anywhere they are planted.
Plants to Use
Filling in with a number of dwarf plants will provide the details needed to create or complete the garden. Think scale and proportion to the size of the container they will be growing in. (The scale of our garden is 1:12.) Remember to match plants for the light and moisture they need.
Plants for Part Shade - Shade
Fairy Vine (Muelenbeckia complexa) Green Baby Tears as well as Golden or Variegated Miniature Canadian Hemlock and Saxifraga
Plants for Full Sun
Elfin and Wooly
Laying Out the Garden
This is the fun part. Before planting the garden, place all of the features, furniture and plants to be included in the design in their respective places on top of the soil. This gives you a chance to experiment with different arrangements without over-handling the plants and basically making a mess.
Decorate with birdhouses, rustic arbors, tiny tools or a pair of boots. Add a charming cottage, benches, arbors, even a waterfall. Experiment with gravel, small pebbles, elf-sized boulders, driftwood, seashells or other objects found around the house. Enclose your garden with a rustic metal or white picket fence. Miniature landscapes can be just as elaborate as the real thing.
The growing media for a miniature garden in a container must provide good drainage. The average potting mix that is used for garden planters and window-boxes will work. Once the overall design is established, start planting the plants with the largest root mass first. Small creeping plants can often be divided and planted as a border or edging. Make a shallow hole for the plants and set the roots in first, filling dirt around and gently up to the base. Choose the location for your garden depending on the plants used.