(Edit: You can now see the finished garden here!)
So, this should really probably be, at the very least, two posts. However, time is short, so instead it is one quite long post. Sorry! The first halfish of the post is about the growth of the faerie garden itself, and the second halfish is about a handful more furnishing type things that we've more recently added to it, including a couple semi-tutorials. Tomorrow I'll post a tour of the finished (for now!) garden, where everything can been seen in its element, which is much more fun.
When I saw the faerie garden at The Magic Onions, I knew we needed to have our own. It just looked like too much fun, and when I showed it to Kaia, we couldn't put one together fast enough! It has been almost 2 years since we began our miniature garden journey, and it has been fun. Lots of fun. And definitely a journey. It is great to look at our garden now, and look back at where we started. Our garden has grown so much, and the time Kaia and I have spent working on it together has been amazing. It is so deeply satisfying to go from one of Kaia's whimseys, to trying to figure out how to bring it to life, and then to either create it with her, or present to her what she saw in her head, now in physical form for her to touch and hold.
We started with a rather small, (it seemed big enough then!) rather ugly, rather grubby, little pot, to which we added some moss, lichen, a couple other small plants from around the yard, and a path. We planned to finish it all off with a house and pond. Ohhh, little did we know. We made the house, but at our attempts to create a pond out of dried watermelon rind or coconut shell we failed. We filled it in with a little more moss, and more or less thought we were complete. Actually, I thought we were complete. This is what our garden looked like this Spring, after being buried under snow, and as we cleared it out, Kaia had big ideas. She likes to announce them with a cry of, "Mama! I have a BIG idea."
I made the furniture she had been asking for, and it was obvious that we were going to need more room. We began the process of transplanting the garden. Kaia carefully removed everything that we wanted to keep, and collected some large rocks and pine cones to throw in the bottom of our new pot. (For drainage.)
Then she shoveled in a good layer of sand, (also for drainage,) and Katalin and I helped her move the dirt from her old pot to the new one.
She replaced the house, the little tree, her mushroom, the old plants that made it through the Winter, and then added some new plants from around our house and collected on hikes.
We collected more rocks, and put down a new path.
She moved in the new furniture, and then I made all the little clay things, and we added those as well. It looked like this. It's not a terribly good picture, but it is the only one I have of the garden at this stage, I'm afraid. The path split to lead to a sitting area on one end, and the well (not yet completed in this picture, just the base is there,) on the other, circling around a dining area. Everything looked kind of jumbled, though, and what's more, Kaia still had plans.
She is nearly incapable of leaving the house without finding something else she wants to put into the faerie garden, or thinking of something else she knows the faeries would really like. She is constantly picking things up, declaring them perfect for her garden, and carrying them home. Lichen. Moss. Mushrooms. Trees. A little vine we found out in the woods. Even a miniature variety of Sedum that she found growing in a crack in the sidewalk while we were on a walk.
And then there is my Mum, who also likes to bring tiny plants for Kaia's garden. Kaia got two more varieties of miniature Sedum, and some tiny Hostas from her. I even gave up my so-called bonsai plant for the cause, it's the one in the round, green pot. (Okay, fine, it wasn't doing very well inside. The move to Kaia's garden has helped it considerably.) She found a little chunk of granite in her Grandfather's scrap pile, blue glass stones at the grocery store for the stream she's been wanting, and a small pet water dish at the feed store to finally make a pond with.
Except.. this was not all going to fit in the new pot we had just finished moving everything into. I remembered the huge, shallow pot we dug out of the barn when we made their mud pie kitchen. It was a fun big pot, Kaia had cleaned it, but we hadn't ended up using it. So here we were, a scant week or so after transplanting the whole garden, and we started to move again. It felt a bit like my college years all over again.
Again, layers of rocks, pine cones, sand, and dirt.
We placed our new plants and main attractions. We had so much space! Kaia drew in the dirt with her fingers where she wanted us to put in paths, where she wanted the faeries' food garden, the stream, and so forth.
Kaia and I moved in all the other mosses, lichens, and plants. She laid down her stream of glass stones, (no, it was not cold, it was extremely hot, she just wanted to wear her "new" coat and hat, I don't know how she survived,) more tiny rocks were collected.
We laid the paths where she'd drawn them out, and she moved all of the the other little faerie paraphernalia in.
I told her as kindly as I could that we were not doing this again this year. I wasn't sure if the plants could take it, but I was pretty certain I couldn't. So far though, we have had enough space for everything she has wanted to add since then. We found a little naked wood wheelbarrow at the thrift store that she went ballistic over and I painted it up red and gold.
I made the bassinet we were planning on for the faerie family baby, a very simple affair consisting of gluing sticks into two 'X's, gluing those under a large acorn cap, and filling the cap with some craft moss.
I made a ladder for up the side of the pot by knotting sticks to twine. I tried hard to knot each side of the sticks at approximately the same height, something I did better in some places than others, but I think the most important bit is making sure that all your knots are on the same side of the ladder, or it goes all wobbly. More wobbly than it turned out, anyway. I cut two 'T' shaped sections of branch to knot the ends to and use as pegs to drive into the ground, and Kaia picked a place to hang it.
We had an extra nest from when Kaia made them as ornaments for Christmas last year, and we got one out to put in the tree.
I found a small needle felting kit at a garage sale a couple weeks ago, so I had a go at making a campfire. It is not the best needle felted campfire I have ever seen. To say the least. But hey, I've not needle felted before, and I only got one horrific jab in my finger while making it, so I am calling it a win. Kaia doesn't know any better, so she's thinks it's the bees knees, and is delighted with it. (Shhh, no one tell her!) Kaia sprinkled sand around her pond to make it a "beach" and added a little shell. She dropped some glass stones and little pebbles into the bottom, and one of the clay flowers floats on top. It had been raining when I took these pictures, so the beach and campfire are not exactly at their best.
Then Kaia decided the faeries needed a swing. I actually lay awake one night trying to figure out how to do this. The problem wasn't how to make a swing, but where to put it. Because, amazingly, we were out of space. Again. There was no way I was moving the garden again this Summer, and I finally decided that the only way we could fit anything else in was to make use of the tiny sliver of land that stood as an island across the stream. Which would need a bridge, obviously. We went on a hike and collected some scraps of bark to bring home. I cut one rectangle out to make the seat of the swing, drilled a hole on either end and threaded twine through them, knotting it on the bottom.
Then I cut four longer "poles" to make the sides of the swing, a shorter stick to go across the top, and a couple more short pieces to brace the sides. I glued them all together, and tied the swing to the top stick. I hadn't painted over the glue yet when I took this picture, so you will have to excuse that.
I cut another piece of bark that we'd pulled off a fallen log to make the bridge, it had a nice curve to it and crossed the stream perfectly. The swing ended up not fitting, so we shuffled things around a little bit and moved the well to the island instead.
We are definitely out of room now. I think next year we are going to have to do away with a pot entirely, and find a nice plot of land to make our faerie garden home instead. It would be nice to have plenty of space to expand whenever Kaia thinks up something else her garden needs, without cramming everything in, or having to move everything repeatedly. I am hoping to start a children's garden for the girls next year, Kaia especially wants a butterfly garden, and a faerie garden section would be just divine.
Don't forget to check back in tomorrow to see the entire finished garden, and do take a look at all the wonderful faerie gardens entered into The Magic Onions competition. The last day to enter is the 21st of this month, so I assume voting will take place soon after.