Fairy Gardens: A whimsical hot trend for 2016

(Photos courtesy of Ken Davis/Watters Garden Center)

(Photos courtesy of Ken Davis/Watters Garden Center)

Dwarfs, talking animals and fairy princesses don't reside just in movies. Increasingly, gardeners are creating their own movie set right in the garden.

Miniature gardens, or fairy gardens, are all the rage this year. Miniature gardens are built to scale, like model railroads, whereas fairy gardens can incorporate anything that's small, explained Lora Goulding, a fairy garden expert at Watters Garden Center in Prescott.

The result can look like a scene out of "The Hobbit," or any make-believe land where the landscapes include tiny homes with perfectly sized benches, bridges, birdbaths with a little mailbox to match.

This is the second season Watters has sold miniature fairy gardens, plants and accessories. And on Saturday, Jan. 23, Watters will host a workshop on how to build these mini-gardens.

"It's a little miniature garden," Goulding explained. "You can accessorize it with furniture, tiny birdbaths, gazing balls and playful animals."

Popular plants, depending if the garden is kept inside or out, include Irish moss, creeping thyme, mini-evergreens and succulents.

But here is the important thing: "You do have to prune and clip" the plants, Goulding said. Because if it's not small, it doesn't belong in a fairy garden. This is the perfect place for herbs and succulent gardens to thrive. These plants actually look better the more you cut them back.

While creating a fairy garden is popular with adults, garden experts say it's also a great way to reconnect children with plants and nature.

"The kids love it," said Lisa Lain, store owner of Watters Garden Center. "Watters' newest garden pieces offer girl and boy fairies, along with about two-inch tall garden animals having fun on playground equipment. All can sit next to mushroom houses or on logs, a nice option if fairies aren't your thing."

With most pieces between $5 and $10, they are easy for anyone to collect.

How much someone spends depends on how much they want to do, Goulding said. She estimated gardeners will spend a minimum of $20 - $50 and up if they buy everything from scratch.

The centerpiece will be the largest investment, then the container, she said.

Lain said she's also seeing more parents or grandparents bring children with them while inquiring about the mini-gardens. And it's not just fairies and tiny animals. She's helped locals create gardens featuring Hot Wheels and dinosaurs.

"The boys really get into this type of gardening when they can add accessories with their own miniatures. It's a really fun way to introduce gardening to kids," Lain said.

To get started, Watters garden experts suggest a container around 6 inches deep and anywhere from 9 to 14 inches wide.

But they also stress these "little" gardens can be as large and complex as a person's imagination. Or, if you're trying to keep it simple, a fairy garden can be done in a terrarium and kept inside a dorm room or atop an office desk.

The only limitation is the gardener's imagination.

"You can use whatever makes you smile," Goulding said. "That's what gardening is all about."

The Jan. 23 miniature garden class, "Fun Houseplants and Miniature Fairy Gardens," is one of a series of free garden classes held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 a.m. Saturdays.

There will be prizes for the top three fairy gardens built in class, said Ken Davis, Watters marketing assistant.

Watters Garden Center is located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott. Find it online at WattersGardenCenter.com and by phone at 928-445-4159.

For a Pinterest board featuring fairy garden ideas, visit https://www.pinterest.com/kenlain/miniature-fairy-gardens/.

- Daily Courier reporter Arlene Hittle contributed to this story.