By Jackie Latham and Alex Peters
A little town of wonder has appeared in the Gaffield Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Hidden in the Sense-Sational Garden in what used to be a raised bed of empty dirt is a newly constructed fairy village put in just last week by the horticulture team of Judy Dluzen and her two summer interns Jackie Latham and Alex Peters.

A view of the center of the
village with tree stump house,
secret door, twig ladder,
and clothesline.
The fairy village makes ingenious use of commonplace items, recycled materials, and found objects to create a miniature magical living space for our resident fairy population. Jackie’s background in crafting miniature houses as a child proved to be helpful for creating innovative pieces such as a little clothesline complete with a small sweater and shorts. Other items include a bridge made of a broken pot, fences out of twigs, houses out of gourds, and paths made of pebbles and rocks. Take a closer look and you may even see a fairy doghouse, little campfire site, and a secret door.

An overview of the Fairy Garden. Remember: no humans allowed!

One of the many gourd houses,
complete with a dog house (beware!)
and various plants.

Horticulturist Judy Dluzen was responsible for the overall design and layout of the village. Alex placed forest groves complete with succulent trees and sumac fruits as well as a fairy-sized vegetable garden with picket fence. Horticulture interns Sarah Bertman and Joe Mazur helped with planting and creating the miniature items. Creeping thyme was planted along the outer edge of the raised bed to deter wandering hands and create a nice enclosing border. A surrounding fence made of bent saplings is currently under construction. The village will doubtlessly undergo a few changes in the weeks to come, but its flexibility makes it an exciting ongoing project.
The Gaffield Children’s Garden provides spaces for exploration and education aimed at young children. We hope the new fairy garden inspires children to look closely in their own backyards for hidden spaces and items as well as provoke a sense of imagination and wonder. Kids can practice plant identification looking for similar plants at home and maybe building a fairy garden of their own. Head on over to the Gaffield Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens to see the newly added fairy village.
Jackie Latham is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment. She is currently pursuing a future in environmental education, and will continue her work experience in the Redwood Forests in the Bay Area of California in the fall. Jackie is from Brighton, Michigan.
Alex Peters, from Gurnee, IL, is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan in Plant Biology. She is attending the School of Natural Resources in the fall as a first year masters student in landscape architecture and conservation ecology. Both Jackie and Alex work under Horticulturist Judy Dluzen.

Jackie Latham

Alex Peters