How to build a fairy house
First: Explore area and find materials such as bark, twigs, nut shells and pine cone
Second: Build house with those materials on the ground
Third: Repeat process when wind or rain knock it down
You never know what mythical creatures are around.
Rumor has it that fairies visit gardens of all shapes and sizes in the middle of the night. Because of this rumor, fairy houses have become popular additions to many gardens throughout the years.
Sometimes they’re rather inconspicuous, a pile of seeds and brush arranged in a pattern. Other times they are more elaborate with door frames made of bark and roofs of moss. Either way, fairy houses are designed to encourage the imagination.
Betsy Williams, creator of the first garden fairy festival in the country, spoke about fairy houses during a gardening conference in Gainesville recently. Lynne Hanson of Gainesville attended Williams’ seminar to learn about building such an enchanted garden of her own.
As part of the workshop, participants made their own fairy houses, which are hidden in Gardens on Green.
“Whether you believe in fairies or not, the enchantment is delightful because it puts you in your imaginary world and you can create amazing things (there),” Hanson said. “(Williams) creates a real mystery in anticipation of finding a fairy. She weaves these stories to tell little children, and you’re just enchanted with her story lore about fairies.”
Hanson said once she started building her fairy house, she became relaxed.
“I’ve just been thinking how the whole process is therapeutic in that you are away, you’re away and enter into some quiet place,” Hanson said. “It is very centering kind of work.”
Fairy houses are a lesson in imagination, creativity and nature. Therefore, they should be built with all-natural components. Anything from bark to twigs to nut shells or pine cones can be used as building material.
“A rule of thumb is you do not take anything off of a living plant,” Hanson said. “You’re not going to pluck a flower or take a piece of beautiful bark off a tree, use what has fallen.”
Hall County Master Gardener and conference organizer Kathy Lovett said the first step in building a fairy house is to explore the area and find materials.
“The goal is simply for parents, grandparents, teachers to take children out into the natural world and find things that are on the ground to build the fairy houses using bark, seeds, nuts, sticks, driftwood, etc. and to use their imagination to put it together,” she said.
The second step is to get innovative with the materials.
“You decide how you want to put it together,” Lovett said, adding one of the benefits is there are no instructions. “Using the imagination is what it’s all about.”
However, she and Hanson warned the fairy house may not be a permanent fixture in the garden since all components are from nature. Plus, the materials shouldn’t be tied or glued together with elements not found in the forest.
“Usually you make it and you just don’t care when it rains and it just falls apart and you make another one,” said Janelle Whalen, the native plants volunteer for Gardens on Green.
A few fairy houses can be found at Gardens on Green, which is next to the Hall County Superintendent's office at 711 Green St. in Gainesville.
But not every gardener follows the rules. In recent years, fairy houses have been more commercial, Lovett said. Many gift and garden shops offer miniature furniture pieces for fairy houses.
“And of course that’s fun for children as well. And I don’t discredit that. It’s just that the focus of what we are doing and the focus of Betsy Williams and Tracy Kane and others is to connect with the natural world,” Lovett said.
The focus of the fairy garden is to get children involved in the hobby of gardening with a little magic and imagination.
“You could go as far as you wanted to create this magic, and that’s what it is,” she said. “I think we all need that in our lives to get us out of our hum drum-ness.”