Serendipity Gardens: Fairy gardening a fun twist to tradition

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 20, 2019

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears bimonthly. Email her at

There is a magical garden I love to visit, and it belongs to my friend Lou Jean. It is a fairy garden, but also has lots of gnomes.

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What is a fairy garden, you might ask? It is a miniature garden with structures and living plants all sized to fit into these tiny gardens. You can make them in any type of container or plant them in the ground or even in rock gardens. Recently, another gardening friend made one with a camping theme in an old wheelbarrow that was just adorable.

Carol Hegel Lang

Now, back to Lou Jean’s fairy gardens. Notice I said plural of garden, as she has more than one. The first one you will see is along the pond next to her house, and this year she has added to it by taking blue glass pieces to make a small stream that runs through the area of the garden where the fairies are.

If you asked me to pick my favorite garden it, would be impossible.

Another of my favorites is located just a few feet away from this first garden, and it has lots of gnomes climbing up the spiral staircase. This one also has hostas and many other plants in it. Each garden seems to have its own theme, and yet, they are related. To say that Lou Jean has an artistic talent would be an understatement, because if you see these gardens you see her many talents.

Fairy gardens made their debut in the U.S. in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, where they were featured in the Japanese pavilion as a bonsai dish garden. Shortly thereafter an article was written about them in the New York Times, and the rest is history.

For me, flower fairies were introduced to me by a friend in Kentucky and through the works of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairy books. Immediately I fell in love with them and their legend. Now it has been broadened by the addition of fairy gardens that anyone can make.

Use your imagination and create something special and fun like my friend Diane did with the camping theme.

Years ago, when our granddaughter was younger, she enrolled in a class to make a fairy house and it was so magical and cute and she let her creativity shine in her creation.

For me, the person with no artistic talents, I have resorted to using my half baker’s rack and placing tiny plants, miniature gazing globes and, of course, a garden fairy or two.

Throughout the gardens you will find garden fairies hiding among the plants. I had thought about taking the small Radio Flyer wagon and using that to make a fairy garden, but my lack of creative talents has always stopped me from doing it.

Flower fairies love to have parties in their fairy court, Cecily states, and four times a year they throw a big ball to usher in the start of spring, summer, autumn and winter. She goes on to say that when the fairies hear Canterbury bells’ flowers ringing, they know a party is about to start. What a wonderful theme to base your fairy garden on!

Flower fairies also love music and dance, so those would be great ideas for creating magical fairy gardens. Pinterest is a great place to Google for ideas and you can purchase small houses as well as trees, shrubs, plants and other accessories in many places locally or online. Just make sure that the plants you choose will fit the size of your fairy garden and not grow too big.

Throw caution to the wind and have fun creating something very special to your gardens, and you will immediately be hooked on this type of gardening. Send me your photos of the finished gardens; I would love to see them.

“Where are the fairies? Where can we find them? We’ve seen the fairy-rings they leave behind them! Is it a secret no one is telling? Why in your garden surely they’re dwelling! No need for journeying, seeking afar: where there are flowers, the fairies are!” — Cicely Mary Barker