A Garden of One's Own

The garden is: a process . a common place . a metaphor . home . a fertile region . a portal . a unified pattern . a palace . elemental . a sanctuary . a book . life space . shade and light . a symbol . paradise . a refuge . the sound of water . green . a sacred grove . personal space . nature . concentric . a center . the immediate environment . a contemplation space . a context . organic . a "poor man's farm" . a framing device . experiential . a language about growth . a participation space . universal . a field of attention . poetic space . structure . here and now . the ground . transforming . the yard . the self . encyclopedic . an observatory . a world . permanency . a meditation space." (An artist's statement by San Antonion Ray Cox)

When we make a space for gardening we use our hands and hearts. We are optimistic and creative. Our minds go over our selections and decide what plants, what colors, what moods we want. Memories of other times and other gardens float through as we dig.

When I was six years old I had secret places throughout my mother's flowerbeds. A pink plastic toy Chevrolet drove through my cactus garden on mudpie roads that I made. My collection of petrified wood was scattered throughout. Under the rose bushes I drew pictures, in the dirt with a stick, of pretty ladies and left flower petals for my imaginary friends, the fairies. I loved checking for dewdrops on the insect webs that grew parallel to and just above the grass. I was sure they were fairy tents and that if only I had awakened earlier I would have been able to see them at play. A favorite poem in my blue My Bookhouse books was written by Eugene Field:



Oh, listen, little Dear-My-Soul

To the fairy voices calling,

For the moon is high


in the misty sky

And the honey dew is falling;

To the midnight feast


in the clover bloom

The bluebells are a-ringing,

And it's Come away


to the land of fay,

That the katydid is singing.

The illustration was a black and white drawing of a fairy queen sleeping in the middle of an opened rose. She was surrounded by winged creatures with antennae floating in the night sky who were knitting spider webs; and below them were pixies with pointed ears jousting with beetles. What an innocent time childhood. No one ever told me that fairies were real. I just liked pretending that they were. And I was sure that they lived in the flowerbeds where I helped weed and plant.

As an adult, many of my happiest and most enjoyable times are still spent outdoors. I truly encourage everyone to join me and make time to play again. A place to pretend and remember. . .a place to remove ourselves from mundane responsibilities and produce our own fantasies; just for fun let's imagine a fairy garden.

Do you have any beautiful rocks or beach glass, petrified shark teeth, mineral specimens or old marbles? Use these to outline your space. A circle or oval looks nice. If you have an oak tree with a hollow in it, include it. An old European saying is "fairy folks live in old oaks." Apartment dwellers can use a large, sturdy flowerpot for the same effect. You can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose. Making a small arch out of bent twigs or vine as an entrance is fun. You can wrap colorful ribbon around it for beauty and support. Glue guns are a great convenience.

Whether you build a tiny house from "found objects" is up to you. I like the idea of an old teacup propped up by a twig or acorns. Feathers add much beauty and it's fun looking for them, too.

My friend Mary has turned a part of her greenhouse into a fairy area. Hers are made in beautiful glazed ceramic pots. She has planted them with miniature roses and thyme. A delicate fairy figurine sits in one and in front of her is a small rise made of tiny crystals. Each individual garden is a little different from the other. They are all gathered together in an area where they live next to blooming orchids, fanciful birdhouse castles, bonsai fruit trees, and the most beautiful iridescent blue gazing balls. To make it even more perfect, this raised area faces a beautiful lily pond where the sound of running water invites you to take as much time as you like to reflect and dream.

Your garden will be just as wonderful if you follow your own intuition. Will it be lively with color, calming with green, romantically fragrant, whimsically offbeat? It's your place and your choice. Some say fairies are attracted to specific plants such as thyme, hypericum, roses, violets, moss, bluebells, rosemary, foxglove, and others. I think they are attracted to your intention to give them a lovely and welcome home planted with the flowers that appeal to you. Enjoy the beauty of your imagination and your ability to create a world where it is safe to pretend. Children do this in innocence and so may we.




Marjie Scharff loves growing plants of all sorts, from tropical papayas to the living sculpture of cactus. She is a member of the San Antonio Botanical Society and is a Bexar County Master Gardener. She studied journalism at Texas Tech University where she edited the yearbook. She values nature, poetry, quilting and living a peaceful life.

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