On eof the strangest experiences I have had as a garden designer was fom rone of my clients who approached me at a garden show. ' Can you design with fairies in mind?' she asked. I asked her to repeat the question and she did. I noted the gleam in her eye and said of course I could design a garden for fairies -after all, what self respecting garden designer ignores the little people who paint and pollinate the flowers so well? I never expected to hear from her again but later that evening she called me at home and repeated her reuqest that I go and see her garden and re-design it with fairies in mind.
Now, I had a choice here - either go with it - after all, the customer is king and work is work after all- or put her down as loopy and hang up. I decided to go with it and give some thought as to what she really meant. She was not, by all appearances, a client given to flights of fancy and I definitely did not think she truly believed in fairies so I questioned her further. She explained that she wanted a garden where you could imagine fairies for her grand daughters who were 6 and 4. She also said, and I was not sure if she was joking, that she had an open mind about whether fairies existed and if they did, she would like a garden they would feel at home in. As we wondered around her small but gorgeous site I began to uderstand what she meant. If within this lovely garden there was the idea that a secret world existed, how woul dthat spark the imagination of small girls (and adults)?
Then I understood and the ideas for the garden began to take shape. First I created a grotto - a full sized one with secluded areas to sit and wonder at nature, surrounded by lush plantings and a hidden-away bench and also a tiny one where fairies could come if they wished alongside the one built for humans.
I then designed a dancing area - a circle with seats, a chamomile lawn covered centre where human or fairy feet could tread lightly and release the scents of the plants. The inner circle was tiny enough to provide the perfect place for a fairy ring should the little people decide to use it as their gathering place and I placed a single round stepping stone there to invite them to use it as a dance floor.
I also included many brightly cooured flowers as these would keep the fairies busy painting them as they emerged from their buds all summer long. I designed it so that as one bloom faded another was ready for painting and could be seen emerging from their buds.
I included a very important area - one with nectar rich plants where the fairies could drink and feed from.This also had the benefit of attracting insects such as butterflies, moths and larger animals like birds. These not only enhanced the garden but could, my client said, be used by the fairies for long distance transport.
I also included a water fall and at its base was a tiny tiny pond where, just perhaps fairies could bathe and cool their feet.
When finished, the garden was a delight and I had the joy of watching my client take her two granddoughters around, showing them the secret hidden grotto, dancing ring and nectar garden.
Still to this day I don't know if my client was serious about the fairies or whether she was enjoying herself immensely with her imagination playing a large part in the garden but whichever it was, the garden looked stunning and held interest all year round. The accessories planned for the fairies really made sense in terms of nature and intrigue.
It shows that if you design with fairies in mind, you cannot go far wrong.