Thirty Days in the Garden: Oh My Gourd, It’s a Tiny Tea House

Have a look at my tiny tea house, made from a birdhouse gourd.

Birdhouse Gourd Tiny Tea House

Here’s a bit of history: Several years ago, when my boys were still young, we planted birdhouse gourds. They were fun to grow, but they need a lot of space. When all was said and done, we ended up with two gourds.

2015, Growing and harvesting birdhouse gourds

The gourds took a year to dry out. I knew they were ready when I could shake them like an oversized rattle. The color changed too, from bright green to a spotted brown.

Mike drilled a bird-sized hole in one of the gourds and a few pinholes in the bottom for drainage. Year after year I dreamed of a nest of birds, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. One year I found the gourd filled with tiny pinecones, a discovery that made me laugh. Squirrels no doubt.

Today I turned the second gourd into a tiny tea house.

Tiny Tea House sign made from cyclamen petals

Like most of my miniature fairy gardens, the concept evolved. The gourd proved too small for the tea house, so I moved the furniture “outside” and created a patio instead.

Birdhouse gourd draped in Wisteria

I placed a battery-operated tea light in the stem of the gourd for some ambiance. It’s a perfect fit!

I fashioned a small curtain from a tattered silk scarf, then hung the curtain from a reed once used in a diffuser. Unlike full-sized drapes, it took me longer to thread the needle than to sew them.

I put more fairy lights behind the silk, delighted with the soft, romantic effect.

The gourd sits in the corner of a shallow wooden tray. The tray arrived at Christmas time, filled with delicious cheese and crackers. I knew I could put it to good use, and today was the day.

Tea service for two on the patio

I lined the tray with moss and tiny shells from a broken necklace. I made the patio using three wooden blocks that were originally intended for rubber stamps. I applied rub-on transfers to make a leafy patio, then wedged them together on the tray. They keep the gourd in place, and they’re just the right size for the rusted furniture.

The charming tea set and the beehive were a gift from my friend Kelly. We met through blogging many years ago, and we’ve become the best of friends. I got her hooked on fairy gardening as well.

Tiny tea house treasures from Kelly

I draped Wisteria across the opening and made a small sign using a Sharpie and a cyclamen flower.

Tea is served at 4:00 sharp.

Wisteria seat cushions

Thirty Days in the Garden: Where Fairies May Roam

I read somewhere that fairy gardens are not the same as miniature gardens, but the difference is largely lost on me. When I’ve crafted gardens in miniature in the past, I let my imagination wander.

Fescue yurt and an orange peel umbrella

Do I believe in fairies?

No.

Do I like to imagine fairies stopping in for a visit?

You bet!

Like many hobbies, you can go all out or you can pair down to what feels right for you. I take the latter approach and have fun.

I’ve enjoyed making furniture for the imaginary visitors, and I’m grateful for the lovely miniature furniture gifted from friends over the years. I’ve even bought a few pieces on my own.

A soft mattress woven from lavender
Garden umbrella made from half of an orange peal and a knot of raffia | the mini hammock is a gift

I fashioned a New Zealand-inspired mini garden after a group of blogging friends met there in March of 2018. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Miniature Hobbiton

The Hobbiton facade lasted a couple of years, but the materials eventually gave way to the elements.

A gift from our New Zealand hosts

The refashioned garden is now more of a tribute to New Zealand and a reminder of my dear friend Pauline. I miss her in the real world and I miss her presence in our blogging community. If you’re a regular reader, you’re surely missing Pauline as well.

New Zealand Mini Garden

On a hurried day in the garden earlier this year, I happened upon an unearthed hyacinth bulb. I looked around for a suitable spot and found the miniature New Zealand garden the easiest place for a quick dig. Of course, the bulb took hold, flowered, and is now entering its resting phase. I will find it a proper home, but for now, it towers over New Zealand Mini.

A nasturtium seedling also took root, providing a nifty umbrella for my New Zealand glass sheep, a gift from our hosts. As soon as the San Jose heat descends, the nasturtium will be ready to move on as well.

I purchased two of the miniature plants you see online from a shop called TwoGreenThumbs. It’s hard to find small-scale plants at our local nursery, and nearly impossible now with COVID. It’s nice to support a small business, and fun getting living plants in the mail. Both times I ordered, Janit tucked in a tiny gift. Check out these miniature gardening boots.

Listen,
all creeping things –
the bell of transience.

Issa

Written in loving memory of Pauline, artist, friend, and blogger extraordinaire.

Top Ten Reasons to Grow a Fairy Garden

Everyone loves a top ten list.*

If you’ve been on the fence about starting a fairy garden, read on. By the end of my top ten, I hope you’re ready to let your creative juices take flight.

Lets dig in.

10

Fescue yurt and an orange peel umbrella

Fescue yurt and an orange peel umbrella

Fairy gardens are a short cut to our inner child. Not the cranky, I-don’t-want-to-take-a-bath-and-go-to-bed inner child but the child that loves digging in the dirt with a spoon.  Remember chasing butterflies and dandelion fluff on a warm summer day? Fairy gardens are a wonderful way to express that carefree joy once again.

9

Replanted Fairy Garden, The Long View

Fairy Garden on the Deck

You don’t need a lot of space to grow a fairy garden. You can plant in a pot on your patio or fill an old wheelbarrow in your back yard. Grow your tiny garden indoors or out. Let your imagination be your guide.

8

fairy garden lavender bed

Lavender mattress frame

Fairy gardening is affordable…or free. You don’t need to buy a thing. A traditional fairy garden might live under a shrub or near the forest floor. Smooth stones make wonderful seats and twigs are perfect for fences, walkways and four-poster beds.  Fairies enjoy resting on the soft side of a flower petal with a blanket fashioned from a sprig of fern.

7

One spooky Halloween night

One spooky Halloween night

Decorating on a dime. If you love decorating but have run out of money or rooms, this is the hobby for you. You can switch out the decor of your tiny garden as often as you like. It’s fun to put up lights for the holidays or lay down green stones for St. Patrick’s Day. The sky’s the limit, without the price tag.

6

fairy garden chairs and tableFairy gardens are a fun way to up-cycle household items. I’ve used wine corks, empty tea light holders, scraps of ribbon and the cap from a bottle of champagne, pictured above. You can use up old paint, or give a second life to a discarded toy. I love the challenge of using things I have on hand.

5

Fallen Log Bridge

Fallen Log Bridge

Scavenging for your fairy garden is a great way to spend time outdoors. I brought home a tiny “log” from one of my hikes and turned it into a bridge. I used broken twigs from a pine tree to make a small rope ladder. One year I fashioned a hammock from the soft petal of a magnolia. Using nature’s discards is fun.

4

fairy garden birthday

Celebrating birthdays in the fairy garden

At a loss for words? Fairy gardens are wonderful conversation starters for guests five through 105. People always have questions or comments when they see my fairy garden. Chatting about fairies is a terrific icebreaker.

3

Fairy House

This fairy house roof line is decorated with straps from an old pair of sandals, a bottle cap and a bit of glitter. The door is cut from the tough bark of a large fern with a seed for a door handle.

Fairy gardening is a unique way to express thoughts and emotions that are hard to put into words. Creative endeavors help lower stress and anxiety. An hour in your fairy garden can help you feel calmer and happier. It allows you to create something uniquely yours which in turn can bring you a sense of pleasure.

2

fairy garden sign and hammock

Tiny garden gifts from friends: a wee little welcome sign, a small hammock and a woodland chair

Your friends will join in the fun. A few of my friends started their own fairy garden. Several others send me wonderful little garden treasures in the mail. I’ve found a few anonymous surprises on my doorstep and even more in the garden. My neighbor’s daycare children add flowers and the odd sticker to let me know they’ve stopped by. It’s fun to be a part of this not-so-secret society of fairy lovers.

1

fairy garden rope ladder

This way to the fairy garden

Designing and tending a fairy garden allows your imagination to soar. There are no rules, no guidelines and no restrictions. Creative endeavors relax the mind and feed the soul. Even the busiest among us can carve out time to tend to a wee garden. In exchange, the tiny garden will tend you.

Stay tuned for my latest fairy garden creation: time at the lake.

*There’s a website called ListVerse that publishes top ten lists. According to their About page: “We publish lists that intrigue and educate, specializing in the bizarre or lesser-known trivia.”

The Luck of the Draw: Fairy Gardening 101

You won’t believe my luck!

Sheryl Normandeau, the blogger behind Flowery Prose, hosted a book giveaway.  Yours truly, lover of all fairy gardening, won!

Sheryl reviewed two books on her blog, Fairy Gardening 101 by Fiona McDonald and Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden – Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner, then generously gave both of them away.

Here is an excerpt of her review of McDonald’s book:

Fairy gardening 101 book

Side by side: My Fairy Garden and a book filled with future inspiration

This purposeful how-to book gives you all the information you need to create a fairy garden, with lists of supplies, suggestions for interesting containers or settings, and tips for successful long-term maintenance of your beautiful creation. Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions cover the making of miniature furniture, fences and other garden structures – and, of course, even the fairies themselves! What I’ve always loved about fairy gardens is the use of recycled/upcycled materials and found objects (either natural or man-made) that you discover in your home, yard, neighbourhood…or garage or thrift sale! The sky truly is the limit when it comes to sourcing materials for your mini-garden – and that’s half the fun!

In addition to blogging from the Canadian prairie, Sheryl writes numerous articles and short stories. She is a contributor to the forthcoming book “Growing Gooseberries” in The Prairie Garden 2017: Fruit and Berries available this month.

One of my favorite chapters gives instructions for building your own fairy garden furniture, including a fancy looking canopy bed. Once I’m back on my feet I’m going to give that a whirl. Another chapter features fairy garden kits to give as gifts. Isn’t that a fun idea? I don’t know if I’ll be able to muster the energy between now and Christmas, though I know two little girls that would delight in one. I might put something together next spring.

Thank you, Sheryl, for this treasured gift!

Fairy Garden Renovations

Are you familiar with the old adage, “one thing leads to another?”  The classic children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie uses this concept with great humour.

The book is known for its playful, circular pattern. A boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair), and a broom (to sweep up). Next he wants to take a nap, to have a story read to him, to draw a picture, and to hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it. – Wikipedia

So, if you give a friend a craft store gift card (thank you Stephanie), she’s going to want to use it.  When she goes to the crafting store, she’ll discover cute little stencils.  She buys those stencils along with a few acrylic paints.

Martha Stewart Craft stencilsDSC_0007

Martha Stewart Craft stencils

Since the garden nursery is *right next door* to the crafting store, she’ll pop in for a look.  While there she’ll find the perfect, over-sized plant trays and the wheels begin to turn.  Fairy garden renovations, here I come!

Large plant trays

Large plant trays

She’ll rush home with the loot, but days will pass before she has time to play. She moves the project from the garage workbench to the kitchen counter, thinking she’s more likely to work on it there.  She’s right!  Racing the clock, she stencils one of the trays before heading off for another appointment.  Family memories say lovely things, spurring her on.

stenciled tray

Stenciled plant trays

The stenciled trays must wait to dry.  Once dry, they need a sealer. Once sealed, they need some soil. Mother’s Day rolls around and she wants nothing more than an afternoon renovating the garden.

Fairy garden on Deck

Fairy Garden on Deck

Two planter trays are the perfect size and shape for my garden bench.

patio fairy garden

Patio Fairy Garden

The perfect spot for the newly renovated fairy house.

fairy house

Newly renovated fairy house flying the rainbow flag

Fairies can cozy up in a Magnolia petal hammock.

magnolia petal hammock

Magnolia petal hammock

A log bridge connects the house and the garden.

reading garden details

Log bridge to the reading garden

My son painted the ceramic plate, the focal point of the reading garden. The chair, lantern and glazing ball are gifts from Alyster the Gnome.

reading garden

Reading Garden

There are already signs of visitors: a tiny deer behind the house, an open copy of Fairy News and the faintest movement from the wishing pond. Ahhhh….

Fairy Garden Activity

Fairy Garden Activity

So if you give a friend a gift card…well, you know the rest.

Easter Flowers and Kindred Spirits

This sweet little ceramic chick appears every spring. It was a gift from Nichole, a family friend and our go-to babysitter when our boys were young. She’s always been a wonderful presence in our lives.

garden posy

Garden Posy

I gathered a few flowers from our spring garden today, with just enough purple and yellow blooms to fill the tiny vase.

The garden posy includes Snapdragons, Daffodils, Bachelor Buttons, Pincushion flowers, Campanula, Statice and a mystery flower.

I photographed the same flower just last week at a home tour.

mystery flower

Mystery flower

Then one appeared in my garden, probably carried by the wind or dropped by a bird last season.  It pushed its way up between two shrubs and flowered today. Serendipity!

Can you help me identify the flower?

mystery flower

Mystery flower: white, purple and yellow

After a hectic few days, I was finally able to catch my breath. I opened an extra-special package from my kindred spirit, Boomdee. I wish you could have seen the smile spread across my face as I opened the tiny treasures. The sweetest little chair appeared, along with tiny wooden stepping ‘stones’ in a lovely moss-green.  An adorable lantern, also on display in Alyster the Gnome’s cozy home sent my heart a flutter.  Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

easter fairy garden

Impromptu Easter fairy garden

step right up

Step right up

There were more treasures and a beautiful card and the most amazing package you’ve ever seen, decorated with bunnies, a fence and pretty spring flowers. Be still my heart. This paper posy decorated the card inside.

crafting goodness from Boomdee

Crafting goodness from Boomdeeadda

If you’re not already following her blog, you’re missing out. If you’re a regular follower of Boomdeeadda you’re already shaking your head and saying, “I know, I know, fantastic, right!?”

Happy Easter!

Fairy garden furniture available at Corinthia Flowers.  Check it out!

Fairy Garden Treasure

DSC_0059 Look what arrived in my mailbox last week?  Isn’t it a treasure?  It flew all the way from Edmonton, Canada via the effervescent Boomdee of Boomdeeada.  I love it!

The cover features a one-dimensional cut-out of the 3D version, above.  Once open, you’re treated to this.  I love fairy gardening, so my mind has been spinning ever since this arrived.  I carried my  Boomdee card around the garden today and snapped a few shots.

squirrel in the pine tree

What are you doing down there?

Here…

fairy pop-up card

Fairies and birds at the fountain

and here.

kissing fairies

Kissing near the roses

I’m planning on color-copying the front of the card, but reducing it in size.  Then I’ll figure a way to use the miniaturized copy in the fairy garden.  I’ll be tickled pink, and I know that Jazzy’s day care kids will too. I wonder what the fairies will think?

Do you know what I think?  I’m the luckiest gardener in the world.  ♥♥♥

Have you discovered the joy of fairy gardening?