The Magic of Fairy Gardening

Fairy garden in yard

Yard garden

If you asked me about Fairy Gardening just a couple of months ago, I’m sure I would have responded, “Fairy what?!” Even my husband and his family, who for over fifty years have owned and operated Stockslager’s Greenhouse and Garden Center just west of Dayton, OH, would have looked at you with quizzical stares.

But that was September. By October 2011, we were in the throes of introducing our customers to an aspect of the greenhouse industry that has barely touched Ohio, but by all accounts is rapidly making its way from the West into the Midwest and on to the East. And, oh, the joy it is creating along the way!

Why Fairy Gardening?

If you asked me, “Why Fairy Gardening?” I would now say it’s because of that very joy! There is a magic, a quality about Fairy Gardening that seems to speak to our “inner child,” asking our imagination to “come out and play.” I can’t help but wonder who amongst us, as a child, did not believe in fairies? Or at least, in the depths of the heart, wanted to believe in the possibility of fairies?

For myself, I vividly remember watching the black-and-white movie version of Peter Pan in my grandparents’ living room, circa 1950’s. Poor Tinkerbell was in the glass jar, slowly dying after drinking the poison Captain Hook had intended for Peter. As Tink’s light was fading, Mary Martin, the pixie-like actress who played Peter, looked directly at the television audience and implored us to save Tinkerbell! All we had to do was say we believed in fairies!  I’m not ashamed to say that I fervently vowed my belief…and consequently basked in relief as I watched Tinkerbell’s life force glow stronger and stronger!

Simple fairy garden

A simple fairy garden

Tinkerbell didn’t die that day, but truthfully, somewhere through the years, the part of me that believed in magic forgot the thrill of my imagination transporting me to worlds unknown, worlds where anything is possible. The nearest  I ever allowed myself to that magical realm was when I looked at life through my children’s eyes when they were young  – or when I immersed myself in the beauty of the ocean or the majesty of the mountains. And then, right before me was Fairy Gardening, combining both nature and the opportunity to feel childlike. I experienced a tug in my heart and a sense of joy that only magic can create. What could be better, I ask myself? Based on the numerous entries I found when I Googled the topic, I believe many others have found the same joy, making Fairy Gardening a new and worthwhile pursuit in the garden center  industry.

Besides the joy inherent in Fairy Gardening, its versatility makes it a good choice for novice as well as accomplished gardeners. The preference to create a Fairy Yard Garden in a delightful outdoor spot allows perennials to spring up amidst whimsical elements of choice, such as mushrooms, cathedral-like lantern, fairy-sized arbor and bench (see picture Yard Garden). Of course, colorful annuals can be added to enhance the charm of this undersized, yet captivating world.

Miniature Fairy Gardens

Fairy garden kit

Fairy garden kit

I have a personal fondness, however, for Miniature Fairy Gardens. Planted in containers (some as small as teacups!), these fanciful worlds can be taken indoors during cold weather, which means that gardening can be enjoyed year round! Visit www.fairygardening.com, and you will find the main line of items we carry in our garden center (see picture FG Kit). Selected by Jeff and Emily Sorenson of Rabbit Shadow Greenhouse in Northern Colorado, the kits and individual items are perfect for all gardeners, especially because Jeff and Emily have developed a diminutive line of “Fairy Flowers.” Each flower tag identifies more than care instructions; the gardener is introduced to the fairy – Zachary, KayKay, and Viola, to mention a few – who purportedly oversee the growth and care of the plant (see picture Tags). Using these flowers and kits, Stockslager’s employees and customers are creating a range of gardens, from elegantly simple to more elaborate (see picture simple). No matter, each and every Fairy Garden is magical because of course, Fairy Dust is included as well!

Fairy garden plant tags

Flower tags for fairy gardening

Mencius, a Chinese, philosopher and follower of Confucius, once said, “A great man is one who does not lose his child’s heart.” Fairy Gardening has allowed the heart of my inner child to once again play in the world of nature. While doing so by no means makes me great, this pastime most definitely makes me grateful. If nothing else, life has taught me it is in gratitude that the seeds of joy have the best chance to grow, and like Tinkerbell, our life force has the opportunity to glow strong.

So why Fairy Gardening, you ask? Because creating a space for magic in our lives is beneficial beyond measure, and quite simply, it makes me smile!

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Jennie Stockslager

About Jennie Stockslager

Jennie Stockslager retired from teaching in 2007. She lives in New Lebanon, OH, with her husband Duke, co-owner of Stockslager’s Greenhouse & Garden Center, which was started over 50 years ago by his parents Ray and Joyce as a “hobby.” Truly a family business, it is co-owned by Duke’s brother Scott and employs their retired sister Vicki, as well as Duke and Jennie’s son Jacob and sister-in-law Barb. Their daughter Betsie, a National Board Certified Teacher, currently lives in Chicago, IL, where she is pursuing her master’s degree at Loyola. Because Jennie enjoyed every minute of teaching, she devoted her career to her students, so her own involvement in the greenhouse was minimal. (But for all the years of her marriage to Duke, she continues to appreciate the paradise he creates every year in their yard!) After a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2003 changed the direction of her life, most notably the end of her career, Jennie found ways to nurture herself through 5 recurrences, as well as do volunteer work. In particular, she serves on the Executive Board of Noble Circle, a grass-roots organization for women “thriving beyond their cancer diagnoses” (www.noblecircle.org). When asked, Jennie said, “Do I think I’d still be alive if I hadn’t found Noble Circle? Yes. I believe medicine could have done that for me. The difference, however, is that because of Noble Circle, I’m more than alive; I’m joyfully living. And life is actually better than it ever was!” She is currently waiting for the moment she will hold in her arms the grandchild she has been holding in her heart. Jennie can be contacted through email: jennie0480@gmail.com

39 thoughts on “The Magic of Fairy Gardening

  1. Jennie, this is fantastic! We are currently in the process of building a new home, which translates to “I have a whole new yard to play with!” I think there is a fairy garden coming to our new yard! Thank you!

    • Oh, Susan! The fun you have before you! Since it was already September when we got involved with Fairy Gardening, I too am looking forward to finding perfect ways to incorporate the magic into our yard next season. (And I find myself noticing, when i visit the homes of family and friends, “Now that would be a perfect place for fairies to reside!”) Enjoy! I know you will!

  2. I have truly enjoyed my very own Fairy Garden! I especially enjoy “talking to my fairies,” beckoning them to come out to play! Thank you for sharing this joyous idea!

    • I think it’s so great that you have embraced the idea and allowed room in your life for whimsical fun! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Loved the article and knowing that “fairies” are still alive. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the “Fairy Gardens”. Best of luck

    • Thank you for sharing that you have heard postive comments about the gardens! I’m thinking your grand-daughters would love visiting a fairy garden at your home?!

  4. This is SO beautifully written. Thank you! Thank you for holding the vision of joy-filled living for us. You are a beautiful flower in my Garden of Friends. I can’t wait to make my own Fairy Garden. I just got a book from the library today called, Faries 101 by Doreen Virtue. I’m excited!

    • Oh, Zella, you are too kind. And you’ll have to tell me about the book! I have CD’s by Doreen Virtue that I really enjoy. I’m curious to hear what she has to say about fairies! Thanks for letting me know!

  5. You did a great job connecting past to present and future, reminding us of what it is like to have that feeling of excitement in a “never land” experience, yet connecting that to the reality of what we can do today. So I must share my “fairyland” magical feeling from last week. My college-aged daughter Brianna came home for almost 24 hours last Saturday and Sunday. She was looking at my garden and I was explaining it to her. I told her that if she and Mike were up late at night, they might be able to hear the fairies whispering and giggling. She looked at me really funny. I kept telling her things about the fairies, and she kept giggling, saying, “Really? Mom, are you serious?” Like she didn’t know whether to believe me or not! I even told her I saw one of the fairy’s wings under a leaf, and then asked if she saw it? The point is…… I miss my “little ones” so much and this gave me the chance to go back to pretending and creating a magical child-like play between us once again. I will definitely keep this up with her. I’m going to have to come up with something clever over Christmas. Maybe a small gift will be left in the garden??! Also, I have these miniature Boyd Bear figurines that are so small, I never know quite what to do with them – until this year! A tiny bear Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and a king and a set of carolers – They are perfect in my garden!

    • Mel, I just love that you have your daughter wondering if this can really be true?! Thank you for sharing such a touching connection to your garden. It explains perfectly why fairy gardens are popular!

    • I loved your comment! I can’t wait to start my garden. As I was outside hanging laundry today I was thanking the fairies for helping us with our garden for many years. According to Faries 101 – they love it when we talk to them outside. Do I believe in them? I do, I do I do believe! If there can be creatures as beautiful as butterflies and dragonflies why not faries! They are just a little shy. Keep having fun!

  6. Your article made me smile with fond memories of my mother sharing fairy gardening with my daughter when she was small. Our fariy garden continues to grow outside and now I think we must start an indoor version as well. Thanks for sharing your joy — it is contagious!

    • I would love to see your garden, Cathy, especially because you have been doing this for years. I just know your daughter will want to recreate the same magic for her own children when she is grown.

  7. Hey Jennie, Great job, I too believe in fairy’s and so does Lawrence. He actually put in a fairy theater in the front of our house. There is a dispute as to how large fairy’s actually are. Would you care to comment? Love the article you made tears come to my eyes as you describe your joy! Oh to Joy! Love you! Cassandra

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Cassandra. I look forward to seeing your fairy “theater”! You and Lawrence have such a magical way of seeing life that I can already imagine how special it is. As for the size of fairies…can there really be a definitive answer? I suppose it could depend on the size of one’s imagination??!

  8. Beautiful story Jennie; just like you! Sydney has already decorated her garden for Christmas. Very creative and inspirational… looking forward to watching my grandaughter’s garden (and my grandaughter) grow:-)
    Love, Debbie

    • I just love to hear that children have a fairy garden of their very own! A place for their imagination to take flight! A place to learn about the wonder of growing green life! Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for your grand-daughter and her magical little world!

  9. I’m totally “intrigued” by the magic of the fairy gardens ! Your descriptive article has drawn me in. Save a seat for me at the workshop in th Spring !!!! :)

    • Thank you! I will let the team know to add your name to the list! I can already imagine that you will find the perfect spot on your deck or in your lovely yard for the little world you will create!

    • Thank you, Betsie. And you make a good point about “urban” gardening – if someone doesn’t have much green space or a yard at all, as long as he/she has a window that gets sunlight (or even access to a grow light), a fairy garden can be made in any size container that is convenient to the space!

  10. I’s believe! Mys fairy wings be hanging up theres, yes-yes, mys woodland garments of those Christmas colors so fines & bedazzled all up with somes teeny & tiny jingle bells alls shining so! And now then there’s mys slippers of woodland moss so softs, adorned all up so special pretty with the Christmas leaves very so green & berries of all reds! I’s waiting for the fairy dance so jouful there, tis a grand fairy ring party wee’s having! Alls the happy-smiles so big greenhouse fairies & those too of the Duke’s yard so peaceful there, & the snow bunnies so soft, awe, & theys forrest friends, wees so gleefully weaving this garland of pines, little-bitty pincones so cute all up in it too, baby hummingbirds of greens & reds all playing in it now, sliding & climbing on the ribbons the colors of Christmas so pretty there, & tiny blue ands speckled brown eggs of thems birds, theys filled withs our loves for her too. Yes now, look, it’s for our Jennie of the Stockslagers clan, to celebrate hers so joyousmas spirit & a mostest sweetest heart wee knows! Wees be dancing our fairy ring under that winter moon so shining, Mother Earth will throw up to the heavens a millions & zillions sparking stars to twinkle for our dance, so special! The garden mans may come, the pretty Duke daughters may, but only-only if theys believe!!

    love you, Janet (Fairy Najte)

    • Oh, Jan, your own magic language! leave it to you to be so clever! I am not surprised that you are enthused about this topic. You are the personification of the woodland spirit. Thank you for delighting me so!

  11. Love your writing Jennie, lyrical. I am enjoying reading the fairy tales of other readers. Thinking the wood fairies will come into the sunshine to enjoy a little spot in my perennials overlooking our spring project, a new koi pond.

    • You have such a beautiful yard, Sarajane. I can just imagine you creating a most magical spot!

  12. I was thrilled to come across your blog. As a fellow cancer survivor (cervical- 30 yrs & counting…) and gardener, I share you interest in fairy gardening. And I have some photos taken in my yard that I consider proof that those lovely little people visited.

    • I bet your pictures are a delight. Thank you for sharing. Thank you, too, for the encouraging note that you are “thriving” 30 years beyond your diagnosis. It gives me confidence to hear that statistics are only numbers.

  13. This is a beautifully written post/blog,and I,too,have always been a fan of Tinkerbell…
    I just MUST have one of those gardens..unfortunately,nowhere close to us in Tx sells what we need…
    Are you maybe able to ship all the things I will need to get started? Or maybe I can buy this and that,and get some things shipped..would be a shame not to have one,just cause we live in Tx..:(
    And,I was surprised nowhere in Dallas sells anything like this! Closest “big city” to us..the Dallas area..
    Happy New Year,and thank you for the lovely read.
    Judi in Tx

    • Judy, we will be happy to attempt to meet your needs, especially for an avid Tinkerbell fan such as yourself. I suggest contacting my sister-in-law at vicki@stockslagers.com . She can do what needs to be done to get you started with your own fairy garden. I’m thinking you might be starting a new trend in Texas! Thank you for your interest!

  14. When I was in second grade I remember reading Afternoon of the Elves, but Janet Taylor Lisle. After finishing it, my friends and I would go out into the woods and make miniature gardens and houses for fairies and elves from whatever natural materials we could find. For awhile my mother even made tiny fairy houses out of stones and leaves. It was such fun! I am so glad that something I enjoyed so much as a child is coming to life for adults, too!

    • I’m imagining the fairy worlds you and your friends created. How fun! I’m looking forward to doing the same with my granddaughter (she’s only 7 weeks old, so I’ll have to wait awhile, but I figure I’ll have fun getting things ready for her!)

  15. Jennie, Frank and I love your blog. We have many “fairy” plants in our yard such as hens and chicks, tiny mosses planted in cracks between the stepping stones, lilies of the valley. From my grandmother’s yard in Wilmington, N.C., I remember bigger “magical” plants such as candy tuff, sweetheart roses, banana shrubs, ox alice.
    Four of our grandchildren created a wonderful village called Moss Town where every child that played in the yard had a little home made of sticks and stones and covered with layers of green moss. Moss Town was very elaborate, with little streets and recreation areas. It was positively magical and was the site of much imagination and fun for several years. Frank and I love the fairy gardens you describe!

    • Irma, I loved the description of the plants on your yard. I would love to see them some time, as well as Moss Town! How wonderful that the children in your family had such a magical place to unleash their creativity! I’m going to share your idea with Duke. I think he will like it too. Thanks for sharing!

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