By Erin Tessier
We have two additional miniature gardens here at CMP as of late. One is a bird fountain fairy garden in the Glenn, and the other is a dinosaur succulent garden in the 4-year-old playground. Fairy gardens have gained popularity in recent years and are a definite hit with young children. Our kids have had so much fun watching the fairy garden and waiting for a fairy to turn its head, or blink. And of course, many have them have sworn that they’ve seen them move 😉. We’ve told them that after planting the bird bath, the fairies moved in unexpectedly. Fairies are good luck so we want them to stay. Fairies don’t like being seen by humans so will freeze, but if we touch them they will likely move away =). Some of the kids even left a little snack for them and they loved it.
For those who aren’t as interested in fairies, or want a more hands-on experience, another option would be a dinosaur succulent garden. Of course, it doesn’t have to be dinosaurs, it could be safari animals, or farm animals, etc. The kids are able to play with this garden as long as they are mindful of the living plants. To be completely honest, some of the plants have not fared so well =/. In the future, we might follow a suggestion one of our teachers had, and introduce the garden without the dinosaurs first, so the focus can be on plant care. Then we would later add the toys once respect for the plants was established and a part of the kids’ routine.
This is a fun activity to do at home with your child(ren), and can even be done indoors if you don’t have a yard space. Once you know the location of your fairy/dinosaur garden, plant selection is key. Is it a sunny or shady location, and does the area/pot have good drainage? Take a picture of the site and bring it with you to the plant nursery and know the amount of space you have. Plant nursery staff are happy to help with selection. If this garden will be utilized by children it is important to ask if the plant is poisonous. Also, you’ll want to know if it’s fast growing, perennial or annual, or self-propagating.
This helpful website lists some popular plants for fairy gardens and also has tips and tricks, pictures, and items for sale. Of course, Amazon sells everything nowadays, and we have some great local spots to buy fairy garden supplies and plants including Walter Andersons in Poway, and Michaels. These type of gardens are a great way to incorporate play along with plant care and will hopefully inspire a budding (pun intended) new generation of gardeners. Happy gardening!