Ask Rochelle Felsburg what inspired her to create the miniature fairy garden next to her house in Spotsylvania County, and she’ll reference two things.
First, a gardening grandfather who grew amazing tomatoes and raised beautiful flowers in her home state of Michigan.
And second, visits to Ireland, where she learned some residents are so certain fairies exist that they take special measures to keep the little rascals from coming inside their homes to make mischief.
“It was interesting to learn that the Irish have been creating fairy gardens for generations,” she said. “I was really taken by the idea of creating a miniature garden designed around the idea of fairies.”
Felsburg, the music director at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, said she started small.
And she purchased the go-to book on the subject: “Miniature Gardens” by Anne Ashberry.
“For me, it’s a combination of two tracts: creating a little world in miniatures, and then filling that world with fairies and a village they live in,” she said. “I have so enjoyed creating that sort of world down to scale.”
Lest anyone think she is expecting a “real” fairy to show up in the miniature town one day, think again.
“I just enjoy creating it all, and as a Christian, being out there is my prayer time, when I talk to God and work with my hands in the earth,” she said. “It’s a great stress reliever and was a nice thing to have during COVID for recreation, reflection and a reason to get up off of the couch.”
Felsburg advised others to start a fairy garden the way she did, using a wooden box that can be moved indoors in cold weather.
“For anyone interested in trying this, it’s important to understand that your miniature garden can be anything you want,” she said. “It’s really just a way to have fun and be creative.”
As for what to grow, Felsburg said it helps to pick plants that don’t grow like crazy and require frequent tending. She adds herbs like rosemary and thyme for their pleasant smells.
She eventually moved from a box to an outdoor space when she had some bushes removed from alongside her house. That provided a nice, shaded spot for the miniature fairy garden.
“Once I started a few years ago, it’s grown gradually, first with the addition of a village, paths and walkways, and a central town square,” she said. “I like to have little things hiding all over—fairies and animals—so you have to work a little bit to see it all as they peek out at you.”
The slow addition of plants and figurines is the part of the hobby that she enjoys most.
“We’ll go on a trip and I’ll find something small in a gift shop, like a shell I picked up in Colonial Beach, that I’ll bring back and use to create a scene in the village,” she said. “When I look at them there, they remind me of the trip and the fun we had on it.”
Felsburg is always searching for the perfect item. She once bought a piece of driftwood from Mount Vernon, hollowed out a part of it, and used it to display some fairies.
Take some time walking along the miniature fairy village and you’ll see little houses, ceramic mushrooms, painted flowers, a tiny butterfly, a small deer, rocks inscribed with messages such as “Love Lives Here,” a teapot fairy home, painted plates, a tiny wheelbarrow, a little pool, a hanging basket that’s home to a little fairy, a Christmas tree of shells obtained at Martha’s Vineyard and countless fairy homes and figurines.
There’s even a little outhouse, because even fairies … you know.
Felsburg said she uses a mixture of plants, some taller and some low to the ground, so there are different levels to display figures.
“I also need paths and places for me to access it all, so I’ve mixed in rocks of different size to fill space and at times have used pieces of moss, which require little upkeep,” she said.
Felsburg makes small changes for holidays, adding little ghosts and pumpkins at Halloween, eggs at Easter and snowmen at Christmas.
“That was really why I put in the church I had as part of a Dickens village, so the fairies would have somewhere to go on Christmas Eve,” she said.
Children in her subdivision have warmed to the display, and they especially enjoy the messages she writes on rocks in the garden.
“Before long, they were bringing me rocks that I paid a dollar for,” she said with a smile. “They like to come over and look at it, especially during Christmas.”
Felsburg said friends and family often buy her garden items for birthdays and Christmas, and she never stops thinking about what to add or move.
“I recently realized that I could print out things, like a flower that fit in quite nicely,” she said. “I laminated it so it wouldn’t wilt in the rain. It’s just another way to enjoy the creative part of all this.”