The desire to create a miniature world makes perfect sense to me. This is why we have dollhouses, train sets, collections of tiny objects, and boutique dictatorships. Daily life spins out of control on a regular basis—most of us are just trying to keep up, or at least make it seem as though we’re keeping up. Retreats are necessary. If it’s possible to carve out even a tiny bit of order from the chaos, why not?
So I don’t have a problem with tiny garden worlds, in theory. But here’s where it gets annoying. Fairy gardens are—in the world of marketing— a trend. If you google the term, you’ll get sucked into a vortex where words like “wee,” “whimsy” and “quaint” describe everything, and resin is the media of choice. Plants are secondary at best. And it often seems to require a professed belief in fairies, or at least a willingness to use terminology that suggests such a belief. Which is strange and kind of sickening, but it doesn’t bother me as much as all the tiny stuff. Garden centers devote an increasing amount of real estate to tiny patio furniture, trellises, garden tools, and little castles or huts for the fairies to live in. All mass-produced wherever, of course. In this world, gardening isn’t about growing stuff—it’s just about stuff.
My friend Arlan, whose miniature garden is shown above, uses the term “moss garden” to describe this space. It’s located along a narrow walkway at the side of his house—it would be difficult to grow any type of traditional border here. All the structures are handmade, and are meant to suggest a country village. If I had his skillset, this is the type of miniature garden I would have.