An Alameda Garden: Fairy Gardens: A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World (Book Review)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fairy Gardens: A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World (Book Review)

By Betty Earl
(B. B. Mackey Books, 2012, $21.95)

What is it about miniatures that so capture our interest and imaginations? Seeing tiny settings and landscapes seems to instantly unlock a door to the childmind within all of us, creating a pathway to the kinds of play and whimsy that are so often lacking in adult life.  I have long had a fascination with elaborate dollhouses and in the past year or so I’ve noticed the emergence of a gardening trend that stirs my heart as a gardener and awakens a memory from my past—fairy gardens.
Betty Earl, author of Fairy Gardens: A Guide to Growing an Enchanted Miniature World has written a charming and detailed guide to the world of fairy gardens. The book manages to provide helpful how-to information about creating these gardens without crushing the magic behind them.

Starting with a discussion of the lore and mythology, Earl provides a glimpse of the fairy world, taking no firm stand on the contradictory views of fairies as benevolent vs. mischievous or even malicious, and then goes on to provide tips for attracting fairies to your garden. From there, she moves on to the details of assembling your fairy garden--choosing a location, selecting a fairy house, gathering accessories, and choosing the best plant material. Options are detailed and the book is heavily illustrated with full-color photos that will inspire and delight.

Earl offers tips for creating fairy gardens with children, but she makes it clear that the gardens are for people of all ages to build, plant and enjoy. She also makes it clear that it’s no matter whether you truly believe in fairies or not. Fairy gardens are meant to be taken at face value and appreciated for their charm and style if not their fairy habitability.

I've loved fairy gardens since I was ten years old, when my family moved to an old house with such a garden in the back yard. In the shade of a tall redwood tree the former owner had built a moss-covered hill about 4 feet high with a fairy castle at the top and a stream that ran down the hill to a fishpond moat below. Sprinklers piped throughout the hill created a light mist around it all, keeping the hill mossy and adding to the ambiance. I'm sure the fairies loved it, and I love remembering it. Betty Earl's book brought it all back to life for me and left me itching to create something similar (although perhaps not as grand) in my own garden. That is the best recommendation I can give.

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