We’ve had several fairy gardens this past summer. All of them in containers on our patio. All of them drown as soon as there was a decent rain. Seems to me that if you want a fairy garden to be able to survive a bit of wet weather then you need to supply it with either some coverage or to make your garden in the ground where the rain water will naturally seep away. I didn’t think it would be possible for us to have such a fairy garden in our current living situation.
Then I noticed our bushes looked like a tiny forest near to the ground. Unfortunately they were a bit messy. I always knew there were lots of dead leaves and a couple plastic baggies tangled in the branches but we generally just avoided the bush because we didn’t know what sort of wildlife might be under those piles of dead leaves. I decided that it was worth the risk to investigate further, perhaps if I found no snakes then this could be the perfect site for our fairy garden.
I didn’t find any snakes but I did find out that people are disgusting. Under those piles of dead leaves I found broken glass, cans, bottle caps, nails, screws, a rusty metal pipe, scrap wood, insulation, fast food containers- the list goes on. How have we been living with this 2 feet from our front door?! Our neighbors bushes look similar to ours, with what seems to be piles of dead leaves and a couple plastic baggies, but I doubt that there isn’t just as much disgusting stuff underneath theirs as well.
Once I had cleared out all the rubbish, things were looking much more promising. There is even a bit of a hill so when it rains, the water will flow downward, away from the fairy garden area.
After reading some recent news about the nasty effects human waste is having on wildlife, and after finding so much trash hidden under dead leaves on my own front stoop, I felt like doing a bit of repurposing.
I challenged myself to make the entire fairy garden using nothing from my craft closet. No craft sticks, no beads, no glitter, no pipe cleaners, no paint- only things that I would have around the house even if I wasn’t a crafter. Things from my kitchen, my closet, my holiday storage, and my tool box. This forced me to think outside the box and also to upcycle some things that I otherwise might not have thought to use.
Total project cost: $0.
For the houses I used empty plastic spice jars. I cut doorways using a utility knife. The containers were translucent so I painted the interiors with nail polish to give them some color. The roofs were made by folding tiny pieces of tan duct tape into triangle-shaped shingles and applying one at a time then topped with a long thin strip of tan duct tape. Details such as door trim and windows were drawn on with Sharpie marker.
The stepping stones were simply pennies painted with nail polish.
The button trees were made from wire Christmas ornament hooks left over from last year and random buttons from old clothes.
The storybook sign was made by writing in Sharpie on a set of bin-bound plastic file dividers then cutting them into arrow shapes and pinning them to straight stick with some push pins.
The swing was made by cutting a straw into three pieces and weaving them together with dental floss, then hung from a branch.
The gazing ball is a marble super glued onto an old marker cap.
The greenhouse was made of an old condiment container turned upside down with a doorway cut into the side.
If you remove the “glass” top then you’ll see a bountiful harvest within. The lid of the container has been lined with tan duct tape, there are 12 toothpicks with decorative green tops poked through the lid into the ground, and a drop of super glue on each one to help the green foil decor to stay put.
Near the green house is the water well. This was my greatest challenge. I wanted to make my well using clay as the base but because my clay was in the crafting closet, it was off-limits. I experimented with some styrofoam which had been used to line a box we recently received in the mail but it didn’t hold up very well. In the end I used a single piece of Starburst candy as the base. I simply stuck cut the toothpicks in half, stuck them into the Starburst, put a small rubber band around them, then coated the whole thing with clear nail polish. When that had dried I added two taller toothpicks to either side, balanced 1/3 of a toothpick on those, and tied a small acorn cap to it with some dental floss. A drop of super glue at various places for security and viola, done. I obviously buried the Starburst base in the dirt for aesthetic reasons.
I was nervous that the well would break the moment the children looked at it but was pleasantly surprised to see it looking just as good as ever after LittleMan had moved it around the garden a few times.
The tree house was made similar to how the other two houses were made, only I designed the tree house simpler in appearance. Generally speaking most tree houses aren’t as detailed as real houses. I followed all the same steps except that I didn’t paint the interior of the tree house, and I didn’t add the small decorative shingles to the roof. To mount the tree house to the branch, I made small holes in the floor and threaded a couple wire bread ties through then twisted them around the branches.
The ladder leading up to tree house is made of straws and dental floss weaved together. At the base of the ladder there are several tiny pinwheels. The pinwheels were made out of squares I cut from the same file dividers as the storybook sign was made from. I used more wire Christmas ornament hooks to hold the pin wheels and mount them into the ground. The pin wheels wouldn’t stay on the wire without some sort of stopper, luckily I found a pack of un-opened earrings in the back of my jewelry box. The earrings each had a tiny rubber stopper on the back. (I’m not big on jewelry, those earrings have probably been there since highschool a decade ago.) I used two of these rubber stoppers per pin wheel, one in back of the pin wheel and one in front.
I also made sun catchers out of the same set of file dividers as the storybook sign and pin wheels, then hung those sun catchers in various places around the fairy garden.
There is also a bunting, made from blue duct tape and dental floss, which hangs across the back of the entirety of the fairy garden area.
Lastly there is a small wind chime made from the plastic ring around the top of a milk jug and various metal objects (about half of which I actually found while cleaning out the bush), an old key, nuts, washers, bolts, a button, etc.. I don’t have a very good picture of the wind chime, every time I tried to take one SunnyGirl would jump in front of the camera. You can see it on the left side of some of these pictures but none of them are close-up.
Both of the children seem fairly pleased with their new fairy garden.
I’m pleased that there is much room for growth since there are so many things LittleMan and I have talked about making together: a zen garden, a soccer field, a pool, etc..
LittleMan did help with the tree house and the button trees but for the most part so far everything has been made by me. I’ll be excited to see him taking a more active role in his fairy garden space.
It wasn’t very long after I declared the fairy garden inhabitable that the LEGO figures moved in.
At one point LittleMan moved all the stepping stones into a large circle and declared that the lake.
At another point he made a pile of dirt and called it Sandman. Kids can imagine all sorts of fun things from the most basic of mediums- a super villain from dirt, does it get any more creative than that?