METRO DETROIT — Fairy gardens combine fantasy, imagination and gardening to create a summertime craft that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Rayna Burkhart, of Romulus, said via Facebook message that she had been collecting fairy sculptures for years before fairy gardening gained popularity a few years ago.
“It opened my eyes to a thousand possibilities. Gardening is the love of my life, and mixing the two together is beautiful and fulfilling,” she said.
She said that fairy gardening became popular due to an appreciation for magic and beauty.
“They bring a sense of accomplishment to the maker, to know that they are creating something pretty and of their own taste,” she said. “I feel that introducing fairy gardens into the gardening community has really sparked the interest of people that otherwise would not give a second thought to gardening in the first place.”
Fairy gardening generally refers to a gardening technique that uses art, flowers and fairy tale elements to create an activity that Burkhart described as “soul healing.” It can be a mixture of flower patches, wooden installations or anything one finds necessary to create their idea of a fairy habitat.
Kim Marchiori, of St. Clair Shores, said that creating a fairy garden became a great bonding activity for her and her daughter.
“My daughter is in college, so it’s a great way to hang out with her while she’s home,” Marchiori said. “I love being able to spend time with (her) on something that’s just between us.”
Marchiori and her daughter shop together for glass stones, miniature houses, solar lights, flowers and other items that can enhance the magic of their ongoing project, she said.
Julie Thomas Cole, of Jefferson, Ohio, administers the Facebook groups Fairy Garden World, Fairy Garden Swap, Buy and Sell Shop and Ohio Fairy Garden. She also owns an online shop called Funky Fairy Furniture and conducts regular fairy gardening classes and video tutorials on social media.
Her groups have attracted and united fairy gardeners from all over the world, Cole said.
“The thing about fairy gardeners is that they just want others to talk to other fairy gardeners, no matter where they are from,” she said. “My favorite thing about it is that it takes you away from reality and into a fairy world where there is no politics, race or religion. It’s a world that is kinder and gentler.”
After owning Just Gardens Landscaping Co. in Jefferson, Ohio, for 15 years, Cole wanted a gardening outlet that was compatible to her strengths.
“It allows me to garden at 61 years old in a way that is non-taxing on my body,” she said.
Despite only making fairy gardens for a little over a year, Cole said the activity has expanded into a career and the go-to activity when her grandchildren visit.
“Fairy gardening can be enjoyed by adults, men and children,” she said, “My grandchildren love helping me with them and looking at the fairy (figurines).”
A trend that Cole has noticed among fairy gardeners is referred to as “true purism,” in which everything in the garden is handmade.
“Some really focus on the fairy folklore when creating their gardens,” she said, explaining that various gardeners are dedicated to crafting a world out of everyday, discarded objects to strengthen the idea that these gardens could be the real-life homes to these make-believe creatures.
“There are fairy garden creations and houses that are being sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars,” she said.
Kellie Hoehing, of Macomb Township, works at Planter’s Paradise, 49488 Card Road in Macomb Township.
By working at this wholesale greenhouse, Hoehing has figured out some tools and tips for creating a unique garden, she said via Facebook message.
“Honestly, the best tools are your hands! You can use small spades and shovels, but using your hands makes sure the job gets done correctly,” she said.
Benefits of fairy gardens include a stimulation in imagination and a reduction in stress, and the activity is not limited by yard size or age, she said.
“Gardening has been shown to reduce stress, so even among adults and college kids this is really nice, because you can have an entire mini garden in your home if you don’t have the ability to have one in a yard,” she said.
Important rules for fairy gardening are to never limit your imagination and to establish your garden’s originality, both Hoehing and Cole said.
“A good tip would be finding your aesthetic for your fairy, and start by choosing a couple plants and objects for your garden and build off that so it doesn’t become too much,” Hoehing said. “You can be creative and put them in lanterns and glass ornaments and make them look super trendy!”
Cole’s biggest tip for gardeners is to remember that “there are no rules.”
“Do whatever makes you happy. All kinds of people make fairy gardens for all kinds of reasons,” Cole said.