Garden Mysteries

My backyard garden is five years old this summer, and it is a constantly shifting and evolving work in progress. I love my garden. I love how connected it makes me feel, to the earth, to beauty and to myself. I pull weeds and snip herbs and gather life lessons from my personal paradise.

And…my garden seems to delight in surprising me.

Garden Mysteries

The first two years after its creation, my garden matured, the perennials filling in as they grew. I got to know my garden and it got to know me. The first surprise the garden offered to me, the third summer, was a perfect heart shape, formed from the expanding patch of brown eyed Susans. I was touched. I felt like I had poured love into the garden and it was loving me back, in a very unique and visible way.

Garden Mysteries

That same year, two Julys ago, I switched to a plant based diet. Vegetables became an increasingly important part of my health and wellbeing…and yet, I only grew flowers, grasses and herbs in my garden. Interestingly, herbs initially drew my interest because I loved the way they smelled, in the garden and dried, added to homemade potpourri. The Divine knew though, that herbs would be crucial to my health. By the time I figured that out, I had a mature herb garden at my disposal.

I didn’t intend to have a veggie patch. So my garden gave me a hint I couldn’t miss. A volunteer tomato plant sprung up in the middle of my southern flower border. I had no idea where it came from and assumed a bird flying overhead deposited a seed. Not only did I get the hint, I was inspired. I added a raised vegetable garden last summer.

Garden Mysteries

Fruits are important too. So last summer, while I tended my herbs, my flowers and my veggies, the garden surprised me again. A volunteer watermelon plant appeared in a corner, near the back porch. I could deduce that I must have spit watermelon seeds onto the ground the year before, while sitting on the back porch. That plant produced several wonderful watermelons for me to enjoy.

Garden Mysteries

Fast forward to this summer, year five for the garden. I have the herbs, the grasses, the flowers and the veggies. Another watermelon vine is growing near the back steps, and stretches 8 feet into the yard. I have not one, but two volunteer tomato plants growing among the flowers in the southern border. They aren’t in the same place as previous volunteer tomato plants. Even though I have five tomato plants growing in the veggie garden, which is no where near the flower garden, I allow these surprise plants to remain. They are gifts, after all.

Garden Mysteries

A week ago, I noticed a new plant growing in the flower bed, not far from one of the volunteer tomatoes. It looked vaguely familiar so I left it alone and didn’t classify it as a weed. I’ve watched it become a vine, and tonight, as I watered, I noticed tiny yellow flowers had appeared. I identified it. The mystery plant is a cantaloupe.

I’ve never grown cantaloupe in the back yard, although I had a plant last summer in the veggie garden, which is located in the side yard. The vine took up so much room that I didn’t plant any this summer. And yet…here lies a cantaloupe vine, snaking through the brown eyed Susans, field phlox and cone flowers. I don’t know how it took root here, however, I accept it as another special gift from my garden.

As I squatted down next to the vine, touching the leaves and pondering these mysteries, I recalled a radio show I listened to recently. During the show, called Growing Your Own Food, Anthony William shared that when we grow our own fruits and vegetables they adapt to our bodies. As we tend to our gardens, touching and talking to the plants, they know what our bodies need, to heal and to live in optimal health.

Isn’t that amazing? Our food adapts to meet our unique health needs. This information resonated deeply with me. Experiencing my garden the way that I do, I believe what Anthony shared. How could I not, when my garden surprises me so wonderfully with exactly what I need?

Thinking back over the past few years, I can see how my garden has progressively led me toward greater health and wellbeing, staying ahead of my growing awareness. Plants are adapting to meet my needs…and my whole garden is adapting to me as well, showing me what’s possible, surprising me with plants that I did not tuck into the ground and inspiring me to expand what I grow.

How marvelous and mysterious and grand my garden is. My own personal space is much more personalized than I realized. I am grateful for the gifts and the surprises, and I am open to receiving more from this living, adaptable, gracious benefactor. I can’t wait to see what the garden offers to me next.

Garden Mysteries

Creating a Fairy Garden

This is the fifth season for my backyard garden. Because the in-the-ground plants are all perennials, the garden returns, year after year. This means that although I weed and water and divide plants, as needed, and plant annuals in containers, the garden takes care of itself. It shifts each year, as plants fill in an area or pop up across the yard, however the garden no longer requires my creative input like it once did.

Therefore, my creativity turned this year to creating a different type of garden, one I’ve been thinking about for years. This afternoon I at last turned my vintage metal wheelbarrow into a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

The old wheelbarrow has been in my garden for a couple of years. I’ve used it previously as a large container, holding neon colored portulaca. Last fall, as I cleaned up the garden and prepped it for winter, I eyed that wheelbarrow and knew it was destined to become a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I received my first miniature for the fairy garden as a Christmas gift. I purchased several other items in early spring at Michael’s Craft Store when cold weather kept my garden slumbering. I picked up a Dwarf Alberta Spruce recently during one of Sutherland’s half price sales, and the rest of the miniature plants this afternoon.

Today, I finally got to bring everything together…and have fun creating! And as with everything else in my life, the fairy garden is full of symbolism for me.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Because it was the largest piece, I planted the Dwarf Alberta Spruce first. The beautiful craggy rock next to it was in my herb garden, and originally came from Leta Moore’s garden in Arkansas. It caught my eye a few days ago as I watered. It’s interesting shape appealed to me so into the wheelbarrow it went.

Creating a Fairy Garden

After figuring out where the miniatures would go, I removed them and planted an assortment of sedum called the “carpet collection”. These plants will fill in, horizontally, but remain close to the soil. I used 12 of these plants in the wheelbarrow, plus I transplanted a hen and chicks plant set from another location in my garden. All of the plants thrive in full sun.

Next to the larger rock I planted a Danica Arborvitae, another miniaturized plant that is perfect for a fairy garden. The photo above shows the area behind the tree and rock.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I used a small terra cotta saucer as a shallow pond. The saucer is stamped with the words Made in Italy. I have never noticed that until today. How perfect! The saucer represents my love of traveling. And exactly one year ago today, I was in fact, in Italy, exploring the Tuscany region with my daughter and grandson.

I wondered aloud about placing small stones in the saucer, just as Greg came outside to inspect my work. He said he had a jar of polished stones. He let me use them and they look great in the saucer. I added a couple of small rocks to the wheelbarrow, to create balance. And then it was time for the fun pieces…the miniatures.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Daughter Elissa gave me the dwarf in a canoe for Christmas. It represents two things to me. The river and the canoe were my symbols for 2016, symbolizing the Flow of Life. The dwarf is a nod to The Hobbit story and ties in with other items in my fairy garden. I added water to the saucer and placed the canoe with its adventurous passenger in the “pond”.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I selected each miniature because of the story it tells. The castle tower connects me to my beloved Scotland, and also to the Lord of the Rings, and JRR Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth. When Greg brought me the jar of polished rocks, I found a tiny ceramic butterfly mixed in with the stones. With Greg’s permission, I hot-glued the butterfly to the tower. The butterfly was a symbol for me, in 2011, representing Transformation. It is also a nod to a scene from Lord of the Rings, when a moth visits Gandalf as he is held captive atop a tower. Moth…butterfly…close enough for me!

Creating a Fairy Garden

And speaking of Gandalf…my fairy garden has a little wizard, complete with a hat and a cloak and a long beard. I used three flat rocks to create a path for my wizard to stand on. The owl perched on his staff reminds me of another series of stories that I love…in the world of Harry Potter. And look at that little house behind the wizard! The words Once Upon a Time connect to my theme this year, of Story. The wizard also fits perfectly atop the tower, if I want to play and move him around.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I am extremely pleased with my fairy garden. It looks and feels complete to me. And yet, if I find something else that draws me and connects to me, I have room to add more items.

I enjoyed this form of creative play this afternoon. And I love that each piece tells a part of my story, representing things that I identify with and appreciate.

Fairy gardens are a trend that began in the US with fairy doors. There are now many miniature items that can be purchased to create customized gardens. Here are three easy steps to create a fairy garden of your own:

1. Decide on a container for the garden. Possibilities include a large clay flower pot, a metal bucket or container, a wooden half barrow or a corner of an existing garden.

2. Decide on a location and note how much sun the garden will receive. A shady spot will require shade loving plants, whereas a sunny location needs plants that tolerate full sun. Purchase miniature plants accordingly. Lowe’s Garden Center has a great selection of plants that are ideal for fairy gardens. Be sure to read the care instructions for the plants and water them frequently so the fairy garden lasts all summer.

3. Pick a theme and purchase miniatures to support that, or go with an eclectic mix. This is your time to play and create. Have fun with the process. Miniatures can be purchased online through Amazon or at craft and garden shops.

My fairy garden is located in the backyard, near my back door. I’ve popped outside several times this evening, just for the delight of catching sight of that miniature garden. I look forward to seeing how it thrives this summer!

Creating a Fairy Garden