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The Enchanting World of Fairy Gardening

By Mary Gadek, Dakota County Master Gardener

Looking for a way to engage the child in your life with the outdoors?! Look no further… read here to learn about the fun and enchanting art of fairy gardening- a creative way of gardening with endless possibilities for the young and young at heart!

The Enchanting World of Fairy Gardening

Capture your child’s imagination as they create a small garden meant to attract the tiny magical beings, called garden fairies. Often found at the edge of the tended garden, garden lore says these guardians of nature are masters of disguise and appear in gardens as small animals, little creatures, or brightly colored orbs of light. 

Why Have Fun with Fairy Gardening? Whether you believe in garden fairies or just want to engage your child in imaginative play, the small-scale method of fairy gardening offers many benefits to the gardener, including connecting the child with nature while providing them with an immediate creative outlet. Also, fairy gardening can offer a way to teach the elements of landscape design, spacing, and proper irrigation to children. Another benefit of this type of gardening is that it enables a less physically constraining form of gardening for any age. 

How to Make an Enchanting Fairy Garden

The most important tool of fairy gardening is your imagination

Take some time and develop your plan or the story you want to tell (and attract fairies!) by deciding on the following gardening elements:

1. Theme: It can be anything you want, especially something to reflect a child’s current interests (e.g., princesses, farm animals, favorite movie characters).

2. Location: Determine where to locate your garden - in a container inside your home or outside, or in a small area of your garden. Add good potting soil for your plants and also, to set hardscape figures and structures. Good drainage, like providing holes in your container and the right soil mixture, ensures a long-lasting garden.

3. Plant selection: Choose plants that will grow to the right scale, or size, for a small garden. As you search for the right plants, consider contrasting or complementary colors and shapes of plants that best fit your theme. Here are some resources to help you choose the right plants:

4. Accessorize: Start by “shopping” around your house and garden to find items that match your plan and can shape the story of your fairy garden. Suggestions: Acorns, pine cones, seeds, stones, shells, small branches, leaves, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, straws, discarded toys or parts of toys, and unused costume jewelry or fish tank stones. Craft stores have endless possibilities, too. 

To pursue an even more magical journey when creating your fairy garden, include the garden attributes that fairies prefer. Fairies enjoy a place to hide, like under a big leaf or behind a smaller rock. Look for small, colorful, shiny, fragrant, or soft items that will attract your neighborhood fairies. Use small ornaments or sparkly treasures. Incorporate fragrant plants (like lavender), choose plants with soft leaves, like lamb ears, or find pods (like milkweed), for a fairy to sleep on. 

Now you are ready to create your fairy garden! Once completed, feel free to add or change the garden as your child wants, to fully express their imagination (or even try to attract a fairy to live in their garden). As time passes, encourage your child to visit their fairy garden and leave little gifts of nature or special trinkets for the fairies.

Here are some examples of fairy gardens found in Dakota County, Minnesota: 

To further enhance your fairy gardening experience, read: 


How To Catch a Garden Fairy, by Alice Walstead, a delightful read-aloud for younger elementary-aged children, which allows your child’s imagination to grow and see how making a fairy garden can entice a fairy into your garden! 

Borrow from the Dakota County Library: ISBN: 9781728263205

Or Buy:


(University of Wisconsin-Madison, Extension,

Photo Credits: Mary Gadek (1,3,4,5), Marie Smith (2,6)

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