Last school holidays my daughter asked if we could make a corner of our garden into a special home for the fairies. Since then we have been building a special home for the fairies, adding bits of magic and daydreams as we go.
The fairies have been visiting regularly ever since.
It's a wonderful place for the girls to play and tend, and a great break for me as they head outside and give me some peace and quiet.
Just in the fairies didn't know, we used these foam blocks to identify the fairy house
I think the best advice I can offer is to not try and do everything at once. Start with one or two things, and gradually add extras over time. This keeps the kids interested in the project and also encourages them to come up with their own ideas.
You don't have to spend a lot of money making a fairy garden (though it's fun and easy to get carried away). Remember that everything has to be waterproof and that your garden might get a bit trampled by all that love, so allocate a section of the garden that can take some heavy traffic. Fairy parties can get quite out of hand, I hear.
Most of the things you need for a great fairy garden can be found at Bunnings, garden centres, $2 shops, swap meets and pet shops. You just need a bit of imagination.
So what do fairies need in their garden?
A disused hanging basket became the base for the fairy bedroom
Somewhere to play
Toadstools and mushrooms are an integral part of any respectable fairy garden. I bought these fabulous toadstools from a craft fair a few years ago, and while they are looking a little loved, they are still a perfect accessory for the fairy garden.
When I asked my six year what was the most important part of the fairy house, she said 'the ballroom'. This is simply a patch of dirt over which we have hung a sparkly silver plastic Christmas bauble. It's a fairy disco and all the cool fairies like to visit.
At night time this tree is covered in little white lights
Something to help them see
Fairies only visit at night time, which is convenient, but they do prefer being able to see where they're going. Hearing a fairy using bad words when they fall over in the dark is not something I recommend.
This is where solar lights come in. Warning, buying lights is addictive. We started with a couple of flower stakes in nearby pot plants and recently bought 200 coloured lights to wrap around the swing set and two strands of white lights to wrap around the fairy tree. They look fantastic and there is nothing better than seeing the kids running around in excitement as the sun sets and all the lights come on.
Solar lights such as these can cost as little as $2 each
You can buy an amazing array of lights online or in the shops. Garden centres are a good place to start, but even department stores stock plenty of solar lights these days, especially in the lead up to Christmas.
I haven't told my kids yet, but I recently bought some 'nets' full of lights: you simply throw them over a tree or bush, and saves you the hassle of painstakingly wrapping metres of wiring around tree branches.
The fairies in our neighbourhood are a chatty bunch and send letters all the time
Somewhere to leave messages
It wasn't long before my daughter started using the fairy garden to leave letters for the fairies. We had a metal mushroom, where the top lifted up (for tea-lights or incense) and she began to write letters and use it as a letter box. I hadn't planned this, but now I wouldn't have it any other way.
You could buy a letter box from a garden or hardware store, or make one at home. Sometimes you can buy DIY bird houses as a kid's craft kit, and these would make a fantastic letter box (or house for the fairies).
Just don't forget to make sure the 'fairies' remember to leave a reply.
Our garden gnomes guard the pebble path to the fairy house
Your fairies might like some garden gnomes, or some hand-made pet rocks. They might even like a stone Buddha. They might like some butterflies or dinosaurs.
'Friends' will probably just migrate into the fairy garden over time, it's up to you whether or not you encourage this.
Some of us just can't help ourselves, and everything needs to be a learning experience. I'm guilty of this, so part of our fairy garden includes pots with flowers that need regular watering. It's part of the deal that the girls must maintain the fairy garden, keep it tidy and try and not kill the plants. We also have some plastic plants that are proving a bit more hardy than my $1 pansies.
I found these strands of shell at a shop that specialised in Balinese imports for a few dollars
Fairies tend to bring their own magic but you can always add your own. Things like wind-chimes, mobiles, sun-catchers, crystals, Christmas decorations and other things to hang in the trees will make your fairy garden somewhere special for everyone to visit.
We use our $20 laminator machine all the time: my daughter has made signs for all the 'rooms' in the fairy house