Fairy Garden Epiphany

I’m not really a gardener. Or maybe I am? What I REALLY am is inspired by beauty through design. Every kind of design. Cake art, gardens, home decorating, sculpture, paintings, tattoos {I would, but needles}, everything that could be considered design or art, I love it. I even appreciate beauty in things like the sound wind creates as it caresses the chimes in my garden.

Well “garden” might be a stretch. I think we barely have a ¼ acre plot of land {an attractive selling point when we purchased}. Our property backs up to a deeply forested ravine of protected space, so off the back deck it’s like the hills of Tennessee sans bears.

I always thought I had a black thumb in the garden. My mom belonged to a garden club and took pity on me revamping my flowerbeds every Mother’s Day {yes, the irony!} and then whatever happened-happened until next Mother’s Day. Maybe a little weeding here or there but probably not. She did not garden at all until we kids were long out of the house.

About 6 years ago we moved to our current house. Mom’s lung cancer had taken its toll and she was no longer able to help me.

Our new house had a sort of plants, shrubs and trees gone wild thing happening, I felt right at home. I didn’t even recognize what was wrong but it was unappealing.

We had several poorly chosen trees removed and a fourth tree pruned to address what our arborist told me were spider mites and black spots of some sort.

When I say poorly chosen I mean trees that in maturity either damaged the house, damaged part of our driveway, or dropped crabapples on our neighbor’s driveway, yuck.

Removing trees encouraged me because I replaced a poorly chosen tree with a spruce I decorate for Christmas, and I LOVE it! A small fire was lit.

I am someone who wants to complete a task in one sitting. I ripped up huge patches of terrible landscaping, had horribly overgrown bushes removed, bought all kinds of plants, then went to work.

I wanted planters with spilling vines, rock beds that meandered through my front flowerbed like the creeks I played in as a child, and only a few colorful annuals.

My husband took me to a fountain store where I found a sleek gorgeous modern fountain. I found planters that matched the shape and perfectly accented their shared walkway.

The whole project was FABULOUS! In my mind. But it was too much. I worked from morning until dark going to bed in pain every night and swearing never again. After a couple weeks “burned out” doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

I didn’t finish. I got it partially completed, and that part was gorgeous, but the part that actually looked bad was the other half of the front of the house. Where overgrown trees, incorrectly planted shrubs {sunloving in shade etc} and weeds mainly defined the space. This brings me to my fairy garden. Or rather fairy village tucked within what will eventually become a fully developed garden. I’m going for low maintenance and need to consider the torrential downpours we seem to attract in southern Ohio.

I had begun collecting fairy accoutrement to put a fairy garden in the mossy full shade area where nothing grew except deer food — hostas. Deer decimate hostas (and lots of other things) in my area. But then I decided to open a bakery so I baked and baked and ignored my dying and non-thriving flowerbeds. For a whole year.

Then something magical happened. I stumbled upon Garden Answer, a Youtube gardening channel.

Laura is mesmerizing. And inspiring. I won’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched some of her videos.

My husband asked me what the jar on the counter was and when I told him I was testing our soil to see if I needed to amend the clay soil with gypsum to help what would be my new hydrangeas take properly I knew.

I don’t hate gardening. I didn’t know what I was doing and, contrary to how I am wired, I took on projects that were too huge all at once and got overwhelmed and shut down.

I watched Laura plant just one single plant, shrub or corner at a time. Huge projects she broke into chunks, sometimes enlisting her husband Aaron, being honest about herself (the projects bring her joy no matter the scale) and her audience (hoping to simply inspire.)

I realized that what I lacked was knowledge. About myself and gardening. Armed with information and a husband who offered to hire a landscaper to do all the heavy lifting I went to the garden stores on a new mission.

Why did my previous hydrangeas fail? Not enough sun, I didn’t even know to prune or fertilize and I didn’t water correctly. What worked for my Great Aunt Olga’s 50-year old well established hydrangea bushes {zero care and they were fabulous!!!} did not apply.

Plant and forget is plant and fail with new plants, they need some attention to become established and they need to be planted where they will do well considering space, light, water, etc.

When I finish, I’ll share more. But for now I have almost finished one area and I love it! I took my time, broke it down, prepped the soil, I even learned some great tricks by hiring landscapers. They pruned a couple huge trees to provide more dappled light to help my grass grow better so I pruned trees in my mossy bed to create more dappled light for prettier semi-shade loving plants that need more light.

And so it is with this bakery. There is still so much I do not know. I used to get overwhelmed but now I’m content. Slow and steady wins the race. Time is a gift that can help me create a thing of beauty that will hopefully outlast me, that’s my goal.

Nearly completing this garden has been a gift to me from God. Gently showing me what it feels like to take on a task that seems hugely out of my wheelhouse and largely overwhelming, see it to end, and be thrilled with the finish. Or mostly finishing. I have more ideas and some final clean-up, but for now, I’m happy. And on vacation so it’ll have to wait!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Be blessed!

Michelle

PS. All my pieces were bought over time at a local garden store or from Amazon. They are all glued down with E6000 glue, and so permanent. I can bring several sets in for the winter and cover the pots. I plan to polyurethane them to protect the paint. The plants in the 2 pots with fairy pieces are from Hobby Lobby. I can just hose them down. During huge storms I plan to cover the main centerpiece with a tacked down lawn and leaf garbage bag. I accidentally discovered deer are afraid of owl and frog statues and steer clear of my hostas so those are functional as well as whimsical.

The bird houses with the owl beneath were my solution to disguising a tree stump. Everything is up on rocks or in pots so our hard rains don’t splash mulch up the sides creating a mess to clean. I’m adding more rock to some of the bases. I cut the arc for my flowerbeds myself because I’m a perfectionist where I care to be.

Exhibit A:

❤️

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