Mid-summer’s Dream: The Fairy Garden

shed poincianaWith the boys gone for the summer, and Clay focused on the shed (passed final inspection, yea!) I had to find a way to occupy myself. So I immediately thought of the standard project for lonely moms: The Fairy Garden.

What?!? That’s not the first thing you think of creating when you have vast quantities of time on your hands? You need to reassess your priorities, my friend.

Fairy garden1I have a messy piece of ground in the backyard that is full of mango leaves, snakes, invasive vines and critter droppings. But it’s also glorious and shady and at least 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the yard. So why not brave the mangoes (I’m allergic), the snakes(shudder) and the spiky vines (ouch) and make a magic forest garden?

What could possibly go wrong?

FG up

Apparently, the fairies in residence were quite happy with the existing chaos, and threw everything at me to stop my determined progress. I once again confirmed that I am allergic to mango sap. For those in parts north, mangoes contain urushiol, the oily allergen that’s found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. That’s right, a mango tree is a giant wooden itch-maker. Urushiol is in the bark, the skin of the fruit, and in the leaf. So, for me, raking under a mango tree is foolish. Raking under 10 mango trees is lunacy.

Even taking every precaution(covering everything but my face; washing my clothes and skin immediately after working), I had not one, but two separate breakouts. One that covered my shin and wept for two weeks, and one that made my right eye swell up.FG seating

Undaunted, I shuffled around the forest like Quasimodo, pulling weeds and digging out cantankerous vines. At long last, it was cleared, and I triumphantly motored to the nearest landscaper to buy my dream path – blue flagstone.


But I soon learned buying Tennessee stone to use in a Florida garden is not fiscally or environmentally responsible. I just couldn’t justify it. After moping about for a few hours, I came up with another idea. Nylon rope  – a gift from a reckless Air Force uncle to even more reckless boys. We have yards and yards of it and use it for rope swings and climbing. We pinned it down with steel wire and voila, instant path. Not exactly eco-friendly, but it’s re-purposed and free. As it discolors, packs down and the plants grow up around it, I think it will look just fine.

poison All that’s left is to add the plants. I am slowly planting things here and there. I started with two coffee plants, and the first hole I dug, I thunked something hard. I thunked once more before I got down to see what it was. The fairies were still sending me some pretty dark messages, but at least this one was cool. It was a cobalt glass poison bottle. Cursory research shows from the turn of the century. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

FG close upSo far, I’ve planted coffee, dwarf cherry, Barbados cherry, dwarf pomegranate, Sumatra tobacco, aloe vera, citronella and rosemary. I still have lots of room left for more plants, and ample room for the fairies, of course.

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