IT’S ALMOST Easter, when many families will want to make the most of the garden – so why not give your children the chance to join in the fun by creating a new playful space of their own?
Making a fairy garden – complete with pixies, hidden doors, small signs, pebbles and interesting plants – can open up a world of imagination for play, especially if your children have helped to create it.
“Fairy gardens are a form of miniature gardening, which started back in the 1950s as a way to make gardening accessible for people without a plot of their own,” says Lizzie Jones from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening (schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/home).
“Great for encouraging imaginative play and outdoor learning, fairy gardens will inspire young people in creating their own little world full of green magic and wonder. And it could be a first step towards a love of plants and gardens.”
Visitors to National Garden Scheme (ngs.org.uk) gardens can find a wealth of inspiration from private owners who have created their own fairy gardens, complete with miniature ladders up trees, quirky signs, and even a fairy office.
Garden owner Nikki Cookson explains “In addition to the fairy houses, there are holes in tree trunks containing hand-made fairy furniture, a children’s fairy trail where you can search for magical imprints of fairies on the tree trunks, a place where children can leave letters to the fairies and a den where the fairies leave replies. There is even a story about the fairies that live here.”
Keen to make your own fairy garden? Jones offers the following tips to get started on a fairy garden with the children…
1. Find out what world they want to create: Ask children to think about what sort of world they’d like to create – and then it’s time to fill a shallow tray with soil, sand or compost to help them bring their vision to life. Pop it outside near the back door, on a balcony, or even a secure window box.
2. Set up a scavenger hunt: Children can go on a scavenger hunt around their local park or garden to find pine cones, twigs and leaves. They can use these to build little houses or shelters for their existing toys, maybe putting in some rocks or pebbles for seats, or tables for a fairy tea party. Wooden lollypop sticks can become fencing, and upturned jam jar lids make great mini ponds. Structure could include gravel paths or pebble stepping stones.
3. Get growing: Children can sow grass seed or cat grass seed to create patches of lawn. Sieve a small layer of compost or sand over the top of the seeds, water well and watch it grow. They can also add herb cuttings such as parsley or rosemary, which not only appeal to the senses through their fragrance and taste, but will also look like mini trees.
4. Add toys: Gather their favourite toys to help them use their imagination to plan the theme. It could be a magical woodland garden for fairies, or perhaps a dinosaur land. Clay figures and signs, which they can paint themselves, can bring the theme to life. Include some plants that attract friendly pollinators, but remember to water them.
5. Make a leaf wand: “Now that the fairy garden’s ready, all it needs is a wave of a magic leaf wand,” says Jones. “To make this, you’ll need a long stick on which you will add foraged materials such as leaves, feathers or petals. Stick a strip of double-sided tape or spread some glue along the outside of the stick. Apply leaves and other materials around the wand and leave them to dry.”
Full instructions for making leaf wands are available on the RHS website schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk