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fairy gardening julie bawden-davis beverly turner

Fairy Gardening: The Book

I have never been into fairy gardens and gnomes. So it was with hesitation that I cracked open the book Fairy Gardening by Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner (Skyhorse Publishing 2013). After a few pages I began to realize this book is not just about placing fairies around a tiny garden; it is about thinking inwardly, reflecting on what you love in a garden, thinking about movement and action and telling a story with a past, present and future, all depicted with plants and stationary objects in a miniature garden.

This book could have been titled Miniature Gardens or How to Think Creatively or The Art of Thinking or How to Focus Your Brain or even How to Complete a Creative Project. It could be an outside-the-box textbook for any age from 4 to 84.

This is thanks to Bawden-Davis, a well-versed writer, gardener and University of California Master Gardener, and to Turner, actress and theatrical set designer who has been transposing her talents for stories and props to a smaller stage for decades. She apparently employs acting techniques such as interpreting emotion into body language and placement of tiny motionless figures. Coupled with showing you how to enhance your skills such as observation and understanding components of relationships, and stepping you through a concept of using color to best advantage, creating perspective in a small space, fast tips you never would have guessed and, above all, how to drum up imagination, the authors have created quite an interesting and amazing read.

At first I was dismayed that there are no captions on the photographs by Xuong Do, which I tend to look at before I read the text. But not to worry; the text explains the photos. There is also an extensive plant list and resources appendix.

Bawden-Davis, a veteran freelance writer of gardening, personal finance and small business, has been interviewing Turner, “the fairy godmother of fairy gardening” and garden designer at a California nursery, for years before they decided to collaborate on the book.

“This is the primer of fairy gardening,” says Bawden-Davis. “It tells how to create a garden that tells a story that you can get lost in. You become a kid again. Everything else just falls away… You’re creating your own little corner of the world that is your great escape. It’s not only fun but makes a nice addition to your landscape.”

Whether or not you like garden fairies and gnomes, this is a great book that makes you use imagination and think about simple design, color and accessorizing a miniature garden.

Beverly Turner:
Julie Bawden-Davis: and

** All photos courtesy Skyhorse and Sky Pony Press

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published May 08, 2013

Photos to enlarge

Fairy Gardening, the book

Develop a theme: rustic retreat

Design with a Captivating Focal Point

Accessorize the garden

Center of attention

Create action: First the baby duck with bent neck, then the watering can to drink from, then the mother duck watching with care

Tell a story.

The perfect home

Have a seat

Sample plant palette

Resued double kitchen sink turned miniature garden with alyssum soap suds

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