A Fairy Garden for Elizabeth

I’ve said it before: creating a fairy garden is a shortcut to our inner child. That’s why I jumped at the chance to make one for Elizabeth.

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This way to the fairy garden

Elizabeth Cassidy is my Pilates instructor. I’ve been taking classes at her studio for nearly a decade. We’re a close-knit group of women, who regularly offer bounty from our gardens, clothes or shoes in search of a new home, references and referrals and the like.

At the end of class one day, she asked if any of us wanted this empty concrete planter.

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Elizabeth’s grey planter

Since no one else wanted it, I offered to make it into a fairy garden for her studio. Oh my gosh I had fun!

I wanted to bring a bit of warmth to the grey pot, so I added a single coat of rust-colored spray paint along the top, bottom and sides.

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I used a single coat of rust-colored spray pain to add warmth

I added recycled packing pellets to the bottom of the pot to reduce its weight and to provide drainage. Then I filled it to the top with plants and soil.

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Recycled foam pellets lighten the load

I bought assorted succulents at Yamagami’s Nursery one of my favorite garden centers. They’ve been in business since 1948.

Elizabeth has a pink corner in her studio, so the “fire-stick” succulents were the perfect addition. I found the sweetest little ceramic house and copper fence,Β  also at Yamagami’s to round out the garden.

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Sticks on fire ‘euphorbia’ succulent

I made a fairy cot or lounging bed using a small wooden block from a rubber stamp collection. I added a curved twig for a headboard, covered the bed with moss, and added a wine cork for a pillow. A bit of moss from my garden stash made a nice accent cushion. For an added bit of serendipity, the chocolate wine cork is from a gift Elizabeth gave me a few years ago. It was in my fairy garden stash, waiting for its debut.

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Assembling the fairy cot

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A resting cot for the fairies

Once the plants were in the “ground” I laid a cinnamon stick path to the door, then added gravel and other bits of moss here and there.

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Succulents and a cinnamon stick pathway

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The long view

Wildfire Updates:

There is good news on the wildfire front!

The Loma Fire I mentioned in An Ominous Autumn Beginning should be fully contained by today. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the 2-week-old wildfire remains 95 percent contained after burning 4,474 acres, destroying 12 homes and 16 outbuildings, and damaging but not destroying one other home. The blaze, which began Sept. 26, is the area’s third largest in the past 15 years, and the latest damage estimate is $15 million.

The Soberanes Fire, mentioned in my post August Doldrums, is 99 percent contained, with full containment expected by Saturday, October 15. The fire started July 22nd from an illegal, unattended campfire. It’s burned 132,127 acres, and destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings. A total of 682 personnel and nine engines remain fighting the fire.Β  The cost of fighting the fire is currently $236 million, making it the most expensive fire in California history.

Needless to say, I’m glad our rainy season is on the way.

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30 thoughts on “A Fairy Garden for Elizabeth

  1. This is a lovely work of art Alys – I’m sure Elizabeth will love it. I like the sound of your group at the Pilates studio too! Thanks for the updates about the fires, I was meaning to ask about them when we talked, but with so much else to cover they got lost along the way. It ought to be a cautionary tale, hearing how long they take to contain and how much damage they do. Yet there seems to always be stupid folk out and about………… I hope your rainy season starts up soon!

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  2. Wow, that is adorable! I have an exercise class that I’ve been going to a while, we are also close, that’s where I have picked up some of my hiking friends. We worry about flooding and you worry about fires – it’s ironic. Wishing you lots of rain. Karen

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    • Thank you, Karen! I’m happy to hear you have a similar crowd of women, and that the relationships are blossoming beyond your class.

      Yes, lots of irony with the weather. My queen for a day plan is to install a series of pipes that take unwanted “resources” and put them elsewhere. If only, eh?

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  3. Wow, this is stunning and I’ll bet Elizabeth will love this. I’ve only grown succulents outdoors but would love to make something similar for my new craft studio. However, the basement has very limited natural light. Do you know of any succulents that would survive in limited light conditions?

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  4. I love what you have done with that simple concrete vessel. I didn’t know paint would hold on it. I think what I like best is the imaginative way you make things from little bits of this and that. I could use a bit of imagination for mine. Your friend must be delighted with it. It is just so cute.
    We are getting 6 days of good rain and wind starting today. Wasn’t quite ready but close. Still no freezing temps so I still have a bit more time. Most fires are started by people doing dumb things. I wonder if they were caught and prosecuted? If restitution was mandatory, people might think a little more. I’m glad they have them contained though. I wish I could send you some of our rain. They sure don’t need it back east.
    Anxious to see how you decorated the fairy gardens for Halloween.

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    • Marlene, the paints available these days are quite amazing. They’ve improved coverage and at the same time have removed a lot of the toxicity. I don’t think that is true of spray paint, but I use them minimally, spraying outside in a sheltered area wearing a mask.

      I’m thrilled to hear you’re getting so much rain. We had a weak system on Friday, followed by a much more substantial series of storms on Sunday. They’re saying that these two storms brought more rain to the area than all of October last year. We’ll take it!

      I must post my fairy garden pics.

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      • They are making some wonderful paints these days. My sister is into alcohol inks on glass. Glad you got some rain. We had most of the day dry so I got some errands run and outside work done. It’s going to be raining again for a few days now. πŸ™‚ Love the rain. Hope you get more.

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        • Enjoy that rain. It’s nice when you get breaks in between storms so you can get out for a bit.

          I’ve seen those alcohol inks but I don’t know much about using them on glass. I’ll bet they’re beautiful.

          It’s 82 and sunny here today. I hope the rain returns soon, too.

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  5. I love seeing your fairy gardens–the creativity and combination of recycled items, to make magic, always fascinate me! And I love succulents of any type. That really is good news about the fires–I would live in a constant state of stress if my world was burning. Are you getting any of the storm that is battering the northwest coast right now?

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    • Hi Kerry. I love the challenge of creating with what I have. Random items are given the once over before being tossed or recycled (like wine corks). It’s fun pulling them together.

      The fires are incredibly stressful. It’s as if we hold our collective breath until they are out. Now everyone is worrying about erosion and mudslides since the stripped landscape has nothing to hold the earth in place.

      I’ve really grown to love succulents, too. They’re perfect for the small gardens as well.

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  6. another cutie-pa-2-t place for fairies to convene. WOW! You’ve been a regular pilates attendee for a long time. I’d never even heard of pilatees until maybe 5 years ago. Way to blaze the trail. I like it so much more in the new color. Great Idea. I also love the ladder you ‘ve place there ❀ I've just moved my garden inside. It's in your room so the kitty's don't bother it. the water in the fountain was icy slush. I had't cleaned my garden before this super early winter weather. I sure hope well have more all ❀ ❀ ❀

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    • Thank you, hon. I love making ladders for the gardens. I used broken twigs from our neighboring pine tree and raffia strands from last year’s costume. Of course winged fairies don’t need a ladder, but they might bring along a gnome or two.

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      • Good point! I just bought a park bench for my fairy garden. I moved it indoors to your room a couple of days ago. The door closes again so the kitties can’t do mischief πŸ˜€ The dryness in the house over the winter months facilitates that I think. At any rate, they now have pumpkins in the garden but I’ve misplaced Romeo. I saw him knocked over one day and thought, “hey?! who’s been in the garden?” I got worried and put him in my pocket, I think…which one? Gah? There wasn’t a ladder, so he couldn’t have climbed on down ;P I’m so happy you introduced me to it all, what else could I wistfully spend so little money but get such fun out of it? xo

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        • Oh, a park bench. I wonder if it is the same model as mine. Is it made from rusty metal? Maybe your’s is wood. It would be fun and so like us thought if it were the same bench.

          LOL on the door closing again. Your house changes with the seasons. Is that beautiful garden of yours done for the season? I don’t suppose it can survive that snow.

          Romeo…Romeo…where for art thou Romeo? I hope he makes an appearance soon. The squirrels like to dig in my fairy gardens this time of year. I just left the hole they made ’cause it’s spooky! “No ladder so he couldn’t climb down!” You make me smile. We’re a wonderful influence on each other, aren’t we Boomdee Bestie? I like it! xo

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          • My bench is wood I think. It’s yellow right now but I plan to paint it a lovely seafoam. It shall turn up in a special vignette mid November at Urban πŸ˜€
            The garden baskets may have survived the snow but I will empty them shortly. I don’t want to let them and the soil freeze in them because they might crack when they begin to thaw. The ice expands and can break a ceramic pot (like when an old copper pipe bursts).
            I haven’t had a chance to look for Romeo….I must soon though so he doesn’t get laundered…oh dear, now I’m worried.
            Hey, I just listened to an awesome podcast with Kerrie Woodhouse. I’ve connected to her instagram page. She’s a wonderful artist and I’ve just learned has also written a book. I’ll share more soon. Now I must head to bed. xoxo la la la nighty nite co-princess πŸ˜€

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            • I’m looking forward to future sharing, as always. You have so many tasks ahead with freezing temps. It would be a shame to have your pots crack and break. I bought little dome covers for my succulents this winter since I now have so many. I don’t want them to freeze and perish. Last year we had a freakish, early November freeze and I wasn’t prepared. This year I’m ready.

              I can’t wait to see your vignette and your post. xo

              co-princess. LOL

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              • Did our major yard clean up today, omgosh that was a lot. I came in, ate dinner and fell asleep. Now in bed for another 7 hours or so. Help, I think I’m turning into a kitty cat…..sleep, eat, sleep…..oh dear πŸ˜€ xo k

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                • Those kitty cats have it made, don’t they?

                  Congratulations on getting it all done in a day. It is a lot of work.

                  I’ve been doing yard clean up, too, though removing three entrenched vines on a long fence took me days. I started nearly a month ago. I had to go up and down the ladder multiple times, used three types of cutters and lots of elbow grease to get ‘er done. Now I need to call and get quotes for a new fence. It’s rotting in a few places, loose boards in others and we need a new gate. It wasn’t done properly and we’ve just lived with it.

                  I found the neighbor’s kitty in our yard today and realized she’s pushing through a loose board. She’s so cute but I know they don’t want her running loose. They have cat netting too, but she obviously poked her nose into a loose board and then stopped by.

                  I hope you recovered from your work day. xo

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    • Our family friend (and the boys’ babysitter) Nichole studied to be a Pilates instructor and taught me some of the basics many years ago. A local gym offered classes for awhile combining yoga with Pilates, but then the instructor left. It’s such a great workout for strengthening the core muscle groups. It’s been wonderful for my back. Joseph Pilates started a movement with his techniques in New York, but I think it really caught on here in the past twenty years.

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      • Californian’s are early adopters. When Jim and I first hooked up in 1994, we came to California to go to Disneyland. Jim still smoked then but he couldn’t in any restaraunts so that was cool. No more sitting in the stinky smoking section, just fresh California air and really good strawberries. No kidding, I really remember the strawberries been magically delicious πŸ˜€ Just one of the many good things about California πŸ˜€ Now you’re the best thing about it all xoxo

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        • Awwwwwwwwwwwww

          You are so good to me. I’ve never been compared to a strawberry before, but I have been called a strawberry blonde. Snicker

          I just can’t picture Jim as a smoker. Isn’t that funny? Yay you on the non-smoking restaurants. Was it any better in Europe this last go around?

          Gosh I miss you. xo

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          • Hooray for butting out the cigarette ! Actually I don’t remember it much at all in London, but in Paris it was very prevalent since we wanted to dine on patios rather than inside. One smart looking fellow asked us before he lit up, “would you mind if I smoke?” I was astonished and thought I shouldn’t be because everyone should practice his awesome manners. Of course, we thanked him for asking and suggested he should indulge away. Missy your hugs and smiling face. I can’t wait to Skype xoxo

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    • Sheryl, we had a couple of impressive rain storms this weekend so that put an end to the last of the lingering burns. Now the concern is mudslides since there is nothing left to hold back the soil.

      I love my miniature gardens (and the book I won on your blog…thanks once again).

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