While new house starts may have struggled over the past few years, homes of a different kind of build are thriving.
The residents of these much smaller dwellings are quite petite and require a bit of shimmery dust to embellish their homes. To have a peek at these homes, a trip to Natureworks, an organic gardening and landscaping business, in Northford is a must.
Diane St. John, an organic master gardener from Durham, is one of Naturework's head fairies. While she designs and fills beautiful full-size gardens year-round, she has the greatest enthusiasm for the tiny spaces perfectly crafted by kids of all ages.
As she moves miniature garden furniture about in one of her recent creations, she explains that this type of gardening is a truly effective way to associate children with nature, saying, "kids just get it instinctively. By creating these homes, children learn how to connect their personal vision to the natural world."
The whimsical nature of the gardens create endless possibilities for creativity. They can be decorated with each season and the holidays in mind. But first, there are some important things to consider to keep the fairies happy. Like any good home, it requires "good bones."
St. John highly recommends using recycled containers such as old tables, broken pots or crates to start with. Any planters should have small holes in the bottom for decent drainage or use chicken wire to help support the home's weight. Pebbles and aquarium carbon help with soil drainage.
Next, it's important to decide if your fairies will live in a tropical, a New England-style or desert-type of environment. Mixing environments can lead to over- or under-watering and stress the plants.
Once this is done, the fun truly begins as one chooses from a myriad of miniature house plants, mini evergreens, low-growing grasses and moss. St. John adds that succulents are also great plants because they tend to stay low to the ground. Lavender scented thyme is another great choice.
As the fairies move into their new home, some pixie dust and a good spell is a must. The kids "love adding rocks and natural things like tree bark. They also love to use milk weed for making beds and boats to add to their fairy homes".
St. John worked closely with Natureworks' other head fairy, Kassandra Moss of Durham, to create a fall program at Natureworks aimed at introducing kids of all ages to building fairy homes. St. John remembers, "Each kid went home with their own fun creations, but the best part by far were the natural things they found in their own yards that helped contribute to a larger fairy house that would remain here at Natureworks."
There is no need to put off your fairy home till spring, Natureworks stocks almost everything (except your imagination) needed to get this project started by the holidays. Natureworks is located off Route 17, on Route 22 in Northford. The store closes Dec. 23 and reopens on the first day of spring.