Homemade gift idea: how I made a fairy garden terrarium
Earlier this year, I was shopping one day in Arcola with my baking friend and coworker, Erin Lippitz.
We saw a display of fairy garden furniture at a shop downtown and she expressed her delight at the tiny details.
The wheels in my head started turning, because I'd seen fairy garden terrariums online. I made my sister a terrarium a few years ago, and found it a great, low-maintenance way to keep plants. So, I decided to make Erin a fairy garden version for Christmas.
I found the covered dish - it looks like a large brandy snifter - at an estate sale. I added rocks from The I.D.E.A. Store, activated charcoal and potting soil. Rob and I made twig furniture with sticks and hot glue a few weeks ago. I was inspired by a particular website, which I unfortunately can't find now.
We made little mushrooms out of red Sculpey clay, and I added spots on them with white acrylic paint. I also found an adorable, tiny coffee cup at The I.D.E.A. Store. I glued it to one of the chair seats, but it fell off in the moist environment inside the terrarium. Still, it's really cute.
Then, I recruited my mother-in-law, Mary Dickinson, to help me choose some plants. She's a Master Gardener.
We went to Prairie Gardens in Champaign last night, and chose several "itty bitty" (their phrasing, not mine) house plants. They were not labeled with their names. The ones we chose were an angel vine, an air fern and a silver brake fern. Mary said ferns do well in low light, so they made a good choice.
We planted the houseplants in the terrarium, last night, and Mary made sure to loosen the roots of the houseplants before adding them.
She then arranged the furniture and mushrooms, and then added a few rocks, which started their lives as gravel in our driveway. A couple look big, like boulders, but several tiny ones make a little patio between the long bench and the small seat.
Mary sprinkled the whole thing with water and gave me care instructions to pass on to Erin. The air fern will need to be trimmed as it grows, or else it will get thorns. The terrarium is a self-watering environment, but if Erin notices the condensation drying up, she should add a little water.
Starting in about February, she can spritz it with a little half-solution liquid fertilizer. Using full-strength fertilizer would make the plants grow too big.
The resulting terrarium looks like the perfect setting for a few fairies. I was hoping for a secret-garden kind of look, and I think the plants we chose really helped achieve that.
I gave it to Erin today because I wanted to share it at least a week before Christmas. It really was an easy gift to make, and it might be the perfect thing for someone on your list.
Photos of the completed terrarium are by Vanda Bidwell of The News-Gazette.