Creating a fairy garden

If you want to have fairies in your garden, you need to provide the right habitat.

Like insects, birds and other wild fauna, fairies are shy and like to feel protected. So if you’re creating fairy habitat, tuck your fairy house deep among plants, flowers or under a tree. If the conditions are right, you are sure to entice a few fairies into your garden.

It seems the efforts are working. Pinterest and crafting websites, as well as a series of fanciful books like the new “Fair Homes & Gardens” by Barbara Purchia and E. Ashley Rooney (Schiffer Publishing) and a whole series of books on Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane (available at the Sonoma County Library), offer ideas for how to make homes for the imaginary woodland sprites, including furniture and gardens created out of common materials that can be foraged from your own yard.

“Fairy houses really spark a child’s imagination. You can make a telephone out of a little twig or a hammock out of a couple of sticks and a corn husk. Whatever they see in their own home they can recreate out of natural materials,” said Roxanne Wilson, a children’s librarian for the Sonoma County Library, which has been hosting popular fairy crafting workshops for several years now.

With summer vacation approaching and long idle hours ahead, making fairy habitat is an appealing way to keep kids occupied with a low-tech project that is creative and gets them outside and away from screens.

“It’s working with something that doesn’t come with directions about how you’re supposed to do it. It opens their minds to critical thinking and being more innovative than putting together a Lego kit that you already have a picture of what it’s supposed to look like,” said Tiffany Gittins, the leader of two Sebastopol area Girl Scout Troops that have dived deep into the fairy culture. “You have to look at things in a new way.”

Among their projects is a Fairy House Kit that includes all the basics to make a fairy house, including a hard cardboard tube - foraged from fabric stores - that becomes the base of the house. The scouts then went treasure hunting, gathering shells, moss, tiny stones, acorns, sticks and other things that can be used to decorate the house or make furniture. A father of one of the girls in the troop cut some logs that the girls then cut into small rounded platforms, earning a woodworking badge in the process (pre-cut wood rounds can also be purchased at crafts stores.) The Fairy House kits are featured for sale for $20 at Muir’s Tea Room in Sebastopol, whose exuberant cottage gardens are home to several fairy houses and “fairy gardens” created in containers.

Since she opened the tea room in December, owner Christine Dzilvelis has done what she can to make her new gardens fairy-friendly. A lifetime lover of fairies and gentle fantasy whose favorite book remains “The Secret Garden,” Dzilvelis creates miniature fairy container gardens in planters, bowls and even in a birdbath. Within the tea room she has hosted fairy-themed parties.

“I’m crazy about them. It beckons you to a different time when people were more connected to the earth,” said Dzilvelis, whose 14-year-old daughter is in Gittins’ Girl Scout troop.

To make a fairy house, try the used fabric tubes or something similar such as an oatmeal or nut container, PVC pipe or even a Pringles cannister. Cover it with moss or layers of leaves using a heavy-duty glue or a glue gun. Place it on a small wooden round to keep it off the wet earth and to provide a foundation. Line windows with pieces of pine cone.

Making tiny furniture is one of the best parts. Mussel shells make perfect bathtubs, said Gittins, whose own two daughters, now in high school, spent many hours as children engrossed in the construction of fairy houses and furniture. Attach an acorn to the top of a twig for a shower head. Vintage wooden spools that can be found at thrift shops or Legacy, the second-hand crafts material store at 781 Gravenstein Hwy S., Sebastopol, are ideal for chairs or tables.

Tiny shells and acorns are good for seats, and beads and buttons for adornments.

Kathy Deweese, coordinator for children’s services at the Sonoma County Library, makes fairy houses with her two daughters, Zoe, 6, and Lucy, 3. She found a couple of small birdhouses at a craft store, some moss and miniature rocks. Lucy had fun splashing hers with paint. Zoe insisted on making hers blend in with the earth by gluing redwood mulch chips and tiny stones on the sides. The fairy houses permanently reside in their own garden in a planter box. The girls created a stone pathway between their two houses. They watch it periodically for signs of fairy activity or habitation.

You don’t need miniature fairies for a fairy house or garden, Gittins said. In fact, it’s almost best to not include them. Kids love to simply imagine that the fairies visit when no one is around.

“One time they swore that they actually saw that a fairy just left,” she recalled of a special moment when her daughters were 9 and 11. “It was probably a big butterfly but they swore it was a fairy. That’s magical. And they wouldn’t get that being inside.”

Another charming project is to make fairy doors. They can be made out of Popsicle sticks or twigs and adorned with things like beads, shells and moss. Place the door at the base of a tree trunk and wait for the fairies to move in.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at or 521-5204. On Twitter @megmcconahey.

Meg McConahey

Features, The Press Democrat

Like most everyone, I love a good feature story that takes me somewhere I’ve never been or tells me something I don’t know. Where can I take you? Who in Sonoma County would you like to know better? I cover the people, places and ideas that make up Sonoma County, with general features, people profiles and home and garden, interior design and architecture stories. Hit me up with your tips, ideas and burning questions.


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