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Fairy houses add touch of whimsy to gardens
Area Master Gardeners build small homes out of natural materials
A fairy garden is one of the many features of Becky Mensinger’s garden at her Gainesville home, which was one of the locations on a tour hosted by the Master Gardeners earlier this month. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Beyond the flowers that bloom at Gardens on Green in Gainesville, the landscaped terrain holds a bit of magic inside five small houses where fairies come out to play when nobody’s looking.

“The goal of Master Gardeners who built (the fairy houses) was to share the fun of using natural materials and to encourage children to get outdoors and explore and be creative,” Master Gardener Kathy Lovett said.

However, the small fairy houses aren’t just for the young but the young at heart, too.

Master Gardener and fairy house designer Joann Keller said she got to be a kid again when she made a fairy home out of an upside down flower pot and anything “shiny.”

“There were no guidelines,” she said. “Wherever your imagination went.”

Between Master Gardener Janelle Whalen and books such as, “Are There Fairies at the Bottom of Your Garden?” by Betsy Williams, Lovett decided fairy houses would be a great addition to the Gardens on Green.

The idea seemed to resonate with children when Master Gardeners met with third- and fourth-graders at Riverbend Elementary a few years ago. The garden enthusiasts introduced the ideas of fairies living at the school and only coming out early at night. 

“Why do you think they come out early at night?’” Lovett recalled asking the children. “One child said, ‘Because they like to party at night.’”

From that tale, students selected from a variety of materials such as moss, rocks, sticks, driftwood, seashells and anything natural to build a small house for an unseen fairy.

“Some were very common and others were not,” Lovett said.

Thinking the fairy houses would be more fun for the girls, Lovett was surprised to see the boys enjoyed making fairy houses just as much.

The Master Gardeners decided to carry the same concept into Gardens on Green. Those fairy houses, however, were made by adults but constructed with children in mind.

“We knew that there would be few children on the (Hall County Master Gardeners annual) Garden Walk,” Lovett said. “We wanted the fairy houses to inspire adults and children and to create more interest in being outdoors.”

For the few children who attended, the little homes didn’t go unnoticed.

Keller recalled one little girl during a garden walk who saw the houses early in the morning and brought her family back to view them later.

“They really engaged the children,” the grandmother of four said.“It captures their imagination.”

Walking through the woods and finding anything that caught her eye to create her fairy home, Keller hopes her four grandchildren will make fairy house during their summer break.

“It makes a perfect summer project,” Keller said.

Keller’s garden has no fairy houses yet, but she hopes to change that.

“I hope the children will enjoy and appreciate the natural world,” Keller said.

Before making a fairy home, Keller suggests looking on websites. Lovett suggests finding inspiration from children’s books.

Fairy homes add a touch of whimsy to any garden, Keller said.

“The more you look, the more you see,” she said.