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.

Two Letters

Alys the Gardener

Alys

Dear Reader,

We create a ‘contract’ of sorts when we publish a regular blog. My unwritten contract with you says that when you log on, you can expect to find a post about gardening, crafting, crafty gardening and cats, delivered with a mostly light heart. So, the following letter, written to my dad who died when I was 9 has a more somber tone and I wanted to let you know that upfront. If this is not your thing, please read no further. Stop by next week for the usual garden antics.

With love and gratitude for your readership and support.

Alys

Dear Daddy,

This is one of those letters you never actually send, though I would if I could. You left an unimaginable void in our hearts when you died on a day just like today. It was hot, strangely still and ultimately surreal. How could you have been here one minute, then gone the next?  I walked in on mom the day you died and I knew. She was kneeling on the floor tearing up your letters though I never fully understood why. She had her reasons and in the end it doesn’t really matter.

You would be amazed what can happen to a letter these days. When I hit a button on an electronic box called a computer, this letter will travel through something called the internet.  Once sent, you can’t tear it up, burn it, or control it in any way. Lovers and politicians learned this the hard way. It’s what they called a double-edged sword in your day.

I love you so much, and was really, really, really sad when you died.  As you know, I was only 9 so I didn’t have the resources to understand what was going on. Mom did her best, but she struggled too. We all missed you terribly. I’m crying now as I write this, all these years later, as at times I remain stuck in the painful past.

Please know, that you would be proud of your legacy. Your girls grew up and got college degrees, something that was really important to you.  It was your reason for moving the family to California in the first place.  We all love and nurture animals as you did,  and yours-truly is a gardener!  Can you believe it?

I have special memories of our beautiful London garden.  You hauled rocks in a wheelbarrow to build a small ‘creek’ down the middle of the yard. It gathered run-off from rain and melting snow and filled my imagination with happy moments. Your grew snapdragons near the back door, and tomatoes during the hot days of summer. Sometimes people would meet you at the nursery where you worked and ask to come by to see your garden. I was so proud of you.

When we left Canada for what you hoped would be a better life for your girls, the new homeowners weren’t interested in keeping up your garden. You were hugely disappointed.  I certainly would be.  Of course the plan was a new home and a new garden in sunny California.  We arrived in November of 1966 to less than favorable circumstances. The man who hired you to run his nursery had since filed bankruptcy. You supported our family with your savings, then sold your beloved coin collection to make ends meet. It was a difficult time for all of us. I can’t imagine as a parent how hard that must have been for you.

By the end of 1967 things were finally turning around. Our family moved to Millbrae where you landed a job at a local garden nursery.  We lived in a rental, but at last could put down roots. The following Christmas, what we thought was the flu turned out to be lung cancer.  The holidays were never the same.

I turn 54 this October, the same age you were when a cruel and ravishing cancer stripped you of your life. Your physical suffering was finally at an end on that hot, August day, but my struggles had just begun. Life doesn’t come with guarantees.

I want to thank you for your gifts of life and affection.  Each of your daughters carries you in her own way.  I think you would be proud of us, as we are of you.

My wish today as I hit the ‘send button’ would be for you to know that we all grew up, lived productive lives and that we carry you in our hearts, always.  When I reach toward the earth, to tumble a seed or pull out a weed, I think of you.

Your loving daughter,

Alys Ann

Mom and Dad on their wedding day

Mom and Dad on their wedding day