A Garden Fit for Fairies

Evergreen family has detailed, extensive take on the summer fun of building a ‘fairy garden’

By Molly Priddy
Bunnie Miller's fairy garden in Evergreen, pictured on July 11, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

EVERGREEN — When Bunnie Miller sits outside in the summer, shaded by her gazebo and listening to her wind chimes, she thinks of family and fairies.

For her, the two are as intertwined as the roots of the large, old trees in her yard, and under one of these trees lies the reason why — instead of grass at the base of the tree, there’s a whole, teeny-tiny town built for fairy folk, as well as a gnome or two.

There’s a small house built to be a fairy home at the base of the tree, and around it, 12 feet by 6 feet of all kinds of places for fairies of all sorts to play. There’s a church, a campground, a fishing hole (complete with running water from a fish-tank pump), a playground, and even a specific area for tired fairies to lie down and take a nap.

Miller’s fairy garden is the main attraction at her home, a place for her many, many grandchildren to explore the rivers of blue and purple beads, the tiny tire swing, other swings made from leaves, and general festivities of fairyland.

“I think it’s great,” Miller said last week, looking at the garden. “It’s great because my little people, my grandchildren, love it.”

As long as there have been tales of fae folk, there have been people caught up in the idea of these little creatures and their lives. Fairy gardens and fairy houses are part of that tradition, ranging in size and shape and makeup, but all built to house the forests’ magical creatures.

At Miller’s house, the garden started last year as a Mother’s Day present. It was relatively small back then, Miller’s daughter Carla Hayek said.

“Now, every time someone goes somewhere, they bring back a fairy for grandma,” Hayek said.

The figurines are spread throughout the garden, bringing it to life. At night, tiny LED lights give the inhabitants a little twinkle in the darkness.

Most of the setup consists of pieces that folks either bought or found, including the little animals spread throughout. Those are actually buttons from a fabric store, Carla said.

“We had to get so creative,” she said. “We went all around town looking for little animals.”

Fairy houses can also be built using what you find outside your front door — there’s no wrong way to do it. Margosia Jadkowski, program director for Whitefish Legacy Partners, said WLP likes to teach kids how to build fairy houses because it gives them a sense of wonder about our environment while still engaging in play.

The group held a free fairy-house building event on the Whitefish Trail on June 28, and about 70 kids showed up, Jadkowski said.

“With our education program this year, we decided to make a shift to include more programs that were play and exploration focused,” Jadkowski said. “It’s such a special way for kids to interact with the natural world and the landscape around them in a more intimate and smaller-scale way.”

Jadkowski has her own memories of building fairy houses on Monhegan Island, Maine, where the little creations line the trails, bringing a little more magic to the forest.

“It’s not just for the kids who are actually building them,” she said. “It sort of creates an element of fun for people who are out using the trail as well.”

At the Evergreen fairy garden, the latest project is adding roads named for all the grandkids’ surnames. Then, Hayek is going to tackle a new fairy garden under a different tree, this time with a western theme (her husband, Lonnie, has already built the tiny saloon).

“It’s been a blast,” Hayek said, and added with a laugh: “It’s never going to be done.”

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