fairy garden refresh.

‘Refresh’ seems to be the catch-phrase of the moment on social media.  We don’t redecorate, renovate, restore or remodel anymore, now we ‘refresh’.

Well, OK, I can get on board with that.  It seems like the refresh is a refreshing concept.   Less involved than completely renovating or restoring something.  Like sprucing up a room with a couple of new things, re-arranging the furniture or maybe adding fresh coat of paint.

A refresh sounds like something you should be able to accomplish in a day or less.

I decided this past weekend was the perfect time to refresh my fairy garden.

It had an evergreen tree in it that had completely outgrown the space.  The canopy of the tree had gotten larger than the container, which is an old cracked birdbath.

Plus it was getting overrun with miniature violets.

I don’t actually know where these violets came from.  I didn’t plant them.  They just started appearing one year in the cracks of my flagstone patio.  From there they migrated into the fairy garden.  They are perfect when they stay small, but they are greedy little monsters and once they start to takeover, they crowd out everything else.

I began by heading over to my local Bachman’s where I was hoping to find some miniature Cypress style trees.  They had some earlier in the season, but as luck would have it they were all gone.  They still had quite a few other options though, so I came home with Cole’s Prostrate Canadian Hemlock (what an awesome name) …

which I’m pretty sure is the same tree that I am taking out.  That one started out this small too.

And I also purchased this Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’

As you can see from the tags, both of these plants were a little pricey even for perennials.  I think they are getting away with charging top dollar because mini’s are so hot right now.

However, both of these plants will come back from year to year so let’s just call them an ‘investment’ shall we?

By the way, we take the birdbath top off its pedestal before the first hard freeze in the fall and bury it right up next to the house under piles of leaves to protect it for the winter.  That seems to do the trick for both the current tree and the mini hostas.  I just learned this past weekend that this process is called ‘heeling in’.

I also purchased this adorable Katydid’s Baby Tears to use as a mini ground cover.

This was much more affordable at $3.99, but it will only survive the rest of this season and can’t be over-wintered (well, technically it could if I dug it up and put it in a pot inside the house, but that’s not going to happen).

After pulling out all of my fairy garden decor, I also removed all of the existing plants.

Check out this hosta, you can easily see that it will divide out into multiple plants now that it’s out of the dirt.

I was able to get six plants out of it.

Once I had all of the plants out I added a little fresh dirt.  Now I have a blank canvas.

Finally I just started layering everything back in starting with the larger items and then filling in with the smaller ones.

Although you can buy faux mini flagstones, my flagstone path is made from layers that flaked off of my life size flagstones.

Gosh!  If only all gardening was this easy.  This wasn’t back-breaking at all.  If I didn’t like the arrangement of something I just pulled it out and moved it which took about two seconds.  If you have back issues that keep you from gardening, then a fairy garden is perfect for you!

Even the ‘big, heavy statue’ is easy to move around.

If you don’t happen to have a cracked birdbath on hand you could use an old wagon or any sort of galvanized container.  I even saw one done in an old Weber grill once.

I had to wait until dusk to be able to see the string of fairy lights that I added.  You can’t have a fairy garden without some fairy lights, right?

I found the lights in the dollar section at Target a couple of months ago.  They aren’t intended for outdoor use and probably won’t hold up forever, but for a couple of bucks I don’t mind.  I’ve had them out since May and so far they are doing fine.  I have had to change the batteries once already, mainly because I just leave the lights on 24/7.

I finished up by giving my refreshed fairy garden a good soaking from the hose, and now I can just sit back and wait for it to fill in a little … but not too much.

15 thoughts on “fairy garden refresh.

  1. Your fairy garden is very sweet and you have inspired me to refresh an old birdbath.Love your “Canadian” hemlock.


    1. This is so cool! I’m having a hard time just weeding around the bushes we planted, so Fairy Gardening will just have to remain in your yard, where I can hopefully visit it and enjoy it soon! You make things look so easy, but my thumbs are just plain black when in the dirt…no green at all. Sigh…


  2. I like the idea of using an old birdbath to elevate a fairy garden – no chance of getting lost in the underbrush when the plants grow! Very charming!


  3. Oh, it’s adorable! I love it! And I’m good with the term, “refresh.” It’s a good use of the word, interchangeable with “spruce up.” However, if you start tossing around “bespoke,” I don’t know what I’ll do. It sets my teeth on edge. I liked its original meaning: “to have spoken” or “to have spoken about.” Why everyone is using “bespoke” for “custom” these days, is one thing I don’t get. “Heeling in,” however, I may have to adopt!


  4. Do you think you could bring it inside over the winter and have it as an indoor decoration? I tried burying a fairy garden once and it didn’t work.


    1. It really depends upon the plants you are using. I have several mini hostas in my fairy garden and according to hostasdirect.com, studies show that ‘hostas need at least 30 days of temperatures about 42 degrees or lower AND the longer the cold dormancy the better. If they don’t get a cold treatment, they will lose vigor year after year and eventually die out.’ So bringing my fairy garden indoors is not an option because of that. Hostas that are planted directly in the ground don’t need any extra protection from the winter, but hostas (and other perennials) in a shallow planter like this need to be protected from some of the severe cold we get here and that’s why I ‘heel them in’. That being said, plants that aren’t hardy enough for Minnesota winters won’t survive even if they are heeled in. That’s why the Baby Tears I purchased won’t make it even if buried. You certainly could plant a fairy garden with only plants that do well indoors (like the Baby Tears) and then bring it in for winter. Bachman’s has lots of tiny plant options!


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