Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tabletop Formal Fairy Garden

While the arrival of Spring means an ever growing list of daunting outdoor landscape projects, sometimes tackling a garden on a smaller scale is a fun way to indulge your green thumb. With far less mess and far more instant gratification, you can treat yourself to the delights of a magical, albeit tiny, garden of your very own in the blink of an eye.
 It seems that mini tabletop or "fairy gardens" have become wildly popular as of late. Although fairies and gnomes have been romping the forests and fields of our imagination for centuries, nowadays all sorts of downsized landscapes are being designed in their honor. From whimsically woodland to elegantly formal a tiny garden can be your own mini escape suited to your personal style.
 Table gardens or garden kits can be pricey to purchase, but it's surprisingly simple to create your own version by mixing small scale plants or flowers with pixie sized garden accessories and basic repurposed craft supplies.
I have made several of these gardens, a rustic French lavender garden, a literary Secret Garden in book and a festive May Day fairy garden complete with May pole. This time, I thought I'd channel my inner princess and try a more royal romantic look, including an easy DIY faux sculpture and a hedge labyrinth, inspired by garden visits and travels.

Garden inspiration clockwise from top left: 
Versailles gardens, France, 
Swans, Morris Arboretum , Philadelphia Pa, 
Atrium Garden, Musee de la  chasse, Paris, 
kilronan Castle Grounds, Ireland 
photos property of CPaul

Doll bust
Planter or large pot 
 (I chose an cast off silver plate platter to use as a planter for a vintage elegant look)
Modge podge
Spray paint or primer suitable for plastic (I used white)
Desired Colors craft or chalk paint
Stones, craft moss 
Sand or aquarium gravel
Garden themed odds and ends 
Small florals and plants 
Craft sticks

I've seen fabulous faux statue DIY's fashioned from dolls or even those beauty store foam heads. For this project I found a tiny glamour doll bust at my local dollar store.
I coated the doll's hair with Modge podge to smooth texture before painting. Once dry, spray to prime with light even coats allowing to dry between.
This will be the base coat. I used chalk finish and craft paints in white and grey tones, stippling for shading and texture.
        Using the same colors, I painted the lid of a spray paint can  for a quick pedestal 
 For a the trellis, I used skinny craft sticks which cut surprisingly easily with scissors.
I assembled trellis with hot glue and coated with white paint.
 Mini terra cotta pots become urns with the same paint treatment.
 I placed stones in the bottom of planter and covered with top soil. 
I then arranged small plants including ivy and thyme as backdrop leaving space for hedge maze.
 I spread aquarium gravel evenly over center.
Since live moss wasn't available I used a sheet of craft moss for the maze.
I cut with scissors and nestled in the gravel

I popped in the statue, trellis and filled the mini urns with more moss
Set your garden on a table, shelf or patio

…. if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. 
                                Marcus Tullio Cicero

PennyWise Tips

Mini Gardens make great get well, birthday, new home or Mothers Day gifts, especially for those with limited or no outdoor space. Simply include plant care instructions.

You can customize gardens to recipients interests or hobbies: add a mini tea table, model Eiffel tower, fishing rod and pond, toy car or character figurines from a favorite film or book.

Sand and cacti make fun desert gardens 
(men seem to like these)

No need to shop for specialty supplies: Toy, Dollar and Party stores have lots of scaled down items that can be repurposed to use in your landscape.