Get down and dirty in the garden
Liza Gardner Walsh is a children’s librarian in Rockport, Maine. She has been a high school English teacher, writing tutor, museum educator and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. Through it all, she has made tiny houses for mice, fairies, trolls, snails and other little creatures. She lives in Camden with her family. Check out her book Fairy House Handbook, published by Downeast.
Copies of my new book Fairy House Handbook are in the warehouse waiting to be passed along to the various stores and venues who have expressed interest and I feel like, if I had wings, they would be flitting back and forth getting me ready for take off. When I think about writing this book, my favorite part, hands down, was building fairy houses for kids and with kids. What never ceases to amaze me is their instinct for this activity. They see things in nature to use and create with that I could never imagine.
A few weeks ago, I took my after-school group from the library outside to a garden that we hope to turn into a fairy garden. I asked them what they thought a fairy garden would need. They immediately jumped in with the most creative responses. First, they started with some basics: paths, flowers and a pond. Then they decided a mud bath would be better than a swimming pool. A bridge, certainly, to allow the fairies to walk over the mud bath. A greenhouse and a composter were suggested because fairies definitely compost. One of my favorite suggestions was to build a stable for beetles so that the fairies could ride on them. We talked about how we could construct a stable and what we would need for this project. Mud kept coming up as an important part in a fairy garden design and then my neighbor gave me a quote that I wish I had put in the book, "nature's glue is mud."
Last weekend, my daughters made a beautiful bed out of dandelions and hosta leaves. My older daughter sewed hosta leaves together (using an iris frond) to make a quilt, and then topped it with one dandelion. The frame was made from some leftover bamboo we had in the garage and the result was simply stunning.
A little while later, my younger daughter, made a cup of fairy milk tea by squeezing out the milky-looking sap from an early spring flower in our garden. We set it on this rock so the fairies could come and have a drink. It was a particularly hot day!
This is what makes this book come alive. It is the sheer delight children take in creating tiny worlds for fairies by using only their imaginations and the props they find in nature. This is the magic of fairy houses for me, even though the chance to make a fairy happy is right up there!