You might be wondering what a fairy garden is. It's a small, thematic vignette of a mythical world. As Nancy Eleder, a fairy gardener from Homer Glen, Illinois put it: "There are just so many different things you can do without a lot of shovel effort.” It is the perfect activity for grandmothers, or moms and their kids, because it allows one to express his or her creativity without backbreaking yard work (and gardening store expenses) clipping his or her wings.
There is no hard and fast definition of a fairy garden, except for that it must be a microcosm and everything is typically made of natural materials. Any weather resistant container will do, if you choose to put it in a container.
Today, we have collected the most creative fairy gardens from around the Internet. Those that appear on this list are the ones where people really galloped with the free rein they were given. They made amenities out of unthought-of materials, placed their fairy gardens in unexpected containers, and just generally made their gardens eye-catching by resourcefully bringing clever ideas to fruition.
20 The Fairy Garden of Oz
This gorgeous fairy garden is made to resemble Oz, from The Wizard of Oz. Like the titular city, this backyard installation is made entirely of emerald (well, it’s ersatz emerald in the fairy garden, because no one could afford to have an entire city of precious stone in their yard, but the sight of it is just as stunning.) Complete with a sign that says “The Wizard is In,” this cool fairy garden really gives meaning to the phrase: “There’s no place like home!”
19 4th of July BBQ Fairy Garden
This one we found interesting because it is one of the few that departs from mythology. It stays squarely in the mundane – there is nothing more familiar or commonplace than a dad flipping burgers for Independence Day. But a lack of people in the scene, plus the nostalgic trinkets (tire swing, bird house, row of American flags) give this Fairy Garden just that little touch of magic (fairy dust?) that these installations need, that make them so interesting and fun to look at.
18 Replica of Bilbo Baggins’ House
If you are a huge Lord of the Rings fan, then you’ll love this replica of a standard Hobbit house. Next to a big tree and integrated with the hill behind it, this adorable fairy garden looks like a Lord of the Rings train set. Looking at the instructions for making this one, it became clear to us that it was no easy task. There was an intense DIY ethic behind it, one that almost necessarily needed to be exploited in the garage rather than at the craft’s table in the den. But, if you’re up for the challenge, we’re sure it’s not that hard.
17 The Large Gnome Home
Oftentimes, the fairy gardens are inserted into something extraneous: a tub or pot of some sort. But, in the case of the Large Gnome Home, the creator decided to fuse the frame with the work of art and make them one and the same. He hollowed out a tree trunk, attached doors and windows to it, and then trimmed the whole with the trappings of the outdoors. Now, it resembles the home of a forest-dwelling mythical creature, primarily a large gnome.
16 Fairy Home Tree Stump
In this case, once again, the creator combined art and frame by carving the fairy garden out of an unused stump in her backyard. Into it she impressed the dweller’s amenities, such as windows and a flight of stairs to take him (or her) to the front door. Although not quite as fastidiously ornate as the previous one, this one appears to have been done with the help of a little toddler, showing that even ambitious fairy gardens can be done with the help of young children.
15 Fairy Garden in a Wheelbarrow
One of our favorite things about fairy gardens is their adaptability. Be you in a small apartment in Brooklyn or on a sprawling estate in Indiana, you can find something to fit your imaginative fairy garden into. This one, we would say, is more appropriate for the latter. This wheelbarrow fairy garden is quite big. It has place for a full house, plus garden paths that snake around the greenery and lawn furniture. The fact that it was made in a wheelbarrow gives it a charming semblance of non-self conscious spontaneity.
14 Fairy Garden Book
Another adorable place to put a fairy garden is in the pages of a used book. Many of us derive our notions of fairies from books such as Peter Pan. Making a fairy garden inside of, for example, a hollowed out TV would seem to pervert the timeless serenity that they evoke. A book, however, with its stoic non-judgmental air and its quiet observation seems the perfect ambiance to attract fairies, which many people believe (especially the young ones) their fairy gardens capable of doing.
13 Fairy Garden Cinder Block
Another idea we love is this fairy tale garden patio embedded in a cinder block. The cinder block is another thing that tends to represent noisy modernity – where else are cinder blocks ever present aside from the construction site of a new skyscraper? But this one, covered in soft moss on the side, really provides a dichotomy between the new and the ancient (magical, forest giggling of pixies and elves). Plus, as with the Independence Day BBQ garden, the elements of suburban living are unoccupied, giving them an eerily mystical feeling.
12 Fairy Garden Coffee Table
In most of the pictures we’ve consulted of fairy gardens, they’ve been outside, sometimes too enmeshed with nature to be able to move them around without destroying them (ones that we partially built into trees, for instance.) This one is not only completely mobile, it’s indoors. We wondered whether or not to count it, but it just struck us as such a wonderfully creative idea, having the lush savagery of the outside world come coexist with the overly-controlled domestic space. It pumps the space full of life and also makes for a very attention grabbing garden.
11 Hanging Fairy Garden
Inspired by the stunning visuals of the hanging gardens of Babylon, this fairy garden swings in a basket from a hook. Although the décor is rather plain, the precariousness of the medium of the art itself makes this specific fairy garden more remarkable than many of the other more ornate but “secure ones.”
10 Tea Cup Garden
Earlier, when talking about the fairy garden in the wheelbarrow, we said it was fit for a giant, sprawling backyard. This one is fit for the tiniest of studio flats: it only occupies the space of a wee teacup. Its simplicity is what makes it lovely.
9 A Fireplace in the Fairy Garden
Having a fireplace in the fairy garden really gives it the sensation of having life. While others come to resemble a work of art, more attractive than actually inhabitable, adding a fireplace makes the fairy garden experience almost voyeuristic, looking in on the lives of fairies, so distracted by the fire’s flames that they wouldn’t realize your eye was occupying their entire front window. And, if you put it together properly, you could easily light the fire without risking any damage to your garden, making it endlessly interactive.
8 Fairy Garden Wishing Well
"They threw a wish down the well, don’t ask them, they’ll never tell." Another interesting addition to your fairy garden would be a wishing well (more commonly known as a drinking well, but not in this universe of mythological lore.) As we proceed through all the indicators of rustic design, a stone well was bound to show up. The wishing well would be another dreamy addition to your fairy garden. We hear if you listen closely enough, you can hear the fairies tee-heeing at the bottom.
7 Snow in the Fairy Garden
Many people think that the snow is absolutely beautiful. Those people have never lived in Canada, but they have a right to their own opinion. Snow adds a certain warm, rum-excited charm to your fairy garden. Suddenly it goes from being the property of a tattered-dressed Tinkerbell to the elves of the North Pole, much less capricious and coquettish. If ever you wish to bring back the ageless Green Fairy, all you have to do is remove the fuzz you used to simulate snow and the place transforms. A little bit of garnish can change its whole appearance.
6 Fairy Village
Some people can’t just do fairy gardens; they expand into fairy streets, then parks, then entire, governed municipalities. Not really… But if you have the time, the patience, and the means, why not expand your garden until it matches what you have in your imagination? A small, potent statement like the teacup garden is never going to be as impressive as a township. This specific one was once featured in the South Buffalo garden walk and it was maintained by Lyn Rezabek of South Buffalo.
5 Houses Embedded in the Tree
This house made from a tree has two chief differences from the large gnome home at the top of this list. For one, it isn’t completely hollowed out like its forerunner. And for two, it’s made out of a living tree. It uses the natural, growing cuves of the living tree for its artistic purposes. The amount of detail is gorgeous, you can practically see the life going on behind each of those mysterious, Parisian alleyways. But there was some damage done: the artist had to make big holes through the tree. It’s a good thing this is just simulated and the damage is only hypothetical (hey, we promised you designs…)
4 Fairy Garden in a Suitcase
We find the garden in a suitcase to be wonderfully dramatic and intriguing. Once again, the soft flowery lining of the suitcase (possibly silk) and the delicate exterior pattern clash with the ferocity of nature on the inside (which already throws a person off balance enough, i.e. “please take your shoes off before entering my home”) causing an intense but exciting, almost confrontational, sensation in the onlooker. This look wouldn’t be great with a Samsonite. It would need to be the type of luggage Taylor Swift would tote in the “Wildest Dreams” video. But it could be done, and if so, it’d be stunning.
3 House Out of Trimmed Trees
Although it’s not identical to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, we find that this fairy garden made out of chain-sawed birch tree looks like the boarding school from Harry Potter. And even if to you it bears no resemblance at all, we still think it would be a good idea to try to make a fairy garden that looks like it. Nothing evokes the fantastical quite like the prose of J.K. Rowling that had an entire generation of kids holding up sticks and whispering “wingardium leviosa” at an item across the room.
2 Fairy Garden Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe
Another dwelling of childhood legend: the old lady’s house from “The old woman who lived in a shoe.” This one is more exact a representation than the take on Hogwarts above: the fairy garden is decked out with a near-perfect recreation of the scene from the cover, from the shape of the boot to the scowling hag out front. Thematically, childhood fairy tales and fairy gardens go together splendidly – what has more power to return us to a state of childhood reverie than a dramatization of our favorite, familiar stories?
1 Japanese-Style Fairy Garden
As we’ve seen throughout this list, the best fairy gardens are those that make the onlooker lapse into fantasy. Although it could be called orientalism, some people tend to imagine Japan as a foggy, far off land of low houses, paper walls, and screen doors. This fairy garden, perched above the rock pond, brings back cultural impressions of distant Japan, and inspires curious fascination in its onlookers. If you want your garden to intrigue your guests, presenting them with this could be an effective way of doing it.