The Not So Fairy Garden
A drought tolerant garden that will over winter well
When I first set out to put together this project, I wanted it to be a full on fairy garden with a miniature house, swings, walkways, the works. But as most of my projects go, the end result was very different from my initial plans.
My first task was to find the base for my garden, as I wanted it to be waist high. Who wants to bend over to look at or maintain a miniature garden? Not me! I am currently obsessed with old metal sewing machine bases, and thought that would be a good stand for the garden. I found the base with no problem, but I had the idea of using a large oval galvanized tub on top of the sewing machine base, to hold the garden. It was a lot harder to find an appropriate sized tub than I had anticipated. And since I am not the most patient person, I enlisted my husband to make a box that looked like an old crate.
The sewing machine base we had found already had a small wooden top on it, so we used that for the bottom of our box. He did remove the top, so that the crate/box could be easily removed at the end of the season. The sides of the box were made from an old pallet that had been used for a temporary deck on the greenhouse (the greenhouse has composite decking now). It was nicely aged hard wood, so it would have been a waste to just throw it away. He had some interesting salvaged corner brackets in his shop, so he used those for the corners. Some thick rope was added to make the handles on the sides and four drainage holes were drilled in the bottom of the box. I think the box turned out great, don't you think?
Once the box was completed, I started looking for plants at my local farmer's market. I wanted them to be drought tolerant and extremely cold hardy, for the most part, and then added a few annuals for more color. I'm sorry I don't have the names of some of the plants. When I got them home, I realized they didn't have tags in the pots, and I didn't think to write down the info that I had received at the market. I do know that I have an ice plant, a creeping sedum, some hens and chicks and two other alpine type plants that I don't know the name of. I added an annual Gazania and some Sweet Alyssum for color and scent.
The potting mix I put together is a mixture of compost, peat moss, sand, and screened top soil that is heavily enriched with perlite to make it lighter and well draining. A broken hypertufa pot was added to help take up room and to add some stone-like texture. A rock that had been split in half seemed like a good "patio" for my "Not So Fairy Garden". When it is wet, there are little divots that will hold water for a short time. Maybe the birds or butterflies will use it? I then added a couple of larger stones, some small decorative stones to act as a mulch and some glass rectangles for walkways. After that was done, I didn't really have much room for fairy stuff, so I just added a couple of brass butterflies I had in a drawer. In my travels, maybe I can find a little fairy statue that I can add to the mix.
When the growing season is over, I plan to take the box off it's stand and set it in the veggie garden where I can add some straw to the sides to help insulate it from the cold. Except for replacing the annuals each year, this garden should last for many years to come.