I was lucky enough to speak with the lovely and garden savvy, Shawna Coronado on a few occasions. She oozes green, and has the most wonderful and upbeat personality. You can't help, but love her! She has shared How to Plant a Sustainable Front Lawn Veggie Garden, How to Build a Vertical Living Wall Garden and How to Grow a Vegetable Garden in Low Light on my blog. I am very excited to have her share her knowledge on how she grew a vegetable garden in low light, and donated some of her produce to her local food pantry when harvested. Very cool, Shawna!
Years ago I built a shade fairy garden along my back fence. It served as a lovely spot for tea and crumpets with my little girl and introduced the idea of fantasy and whimsy into the garden. That little girl has grown up significantly and the garden has needed a change, so I challenged my garden helper, Josette Cook, to come up with an amazing new sustainable fairy garden plan (see below). She created a marvelous idea which combined the existing logs and plants with a backdrop of a reused pallet wall garden. Late this summer we built the fairy pallet garden together and added a very special “reduce, reuse, and recycle” touch to my back yard shade garden.
HOW TO BUILD A FAIRY PALLET GARDEN FOR THE SHADE:
- First, build the front section of the garden, being sure to leave enough space at the back so you can lean the pallets against the fence. Begin with a pile of soil shaped into a cone. I used old soil from previous years containers, building a conical fairy mountain by placing old stumps and logs around the cone shaped pile of soil.
- Add fresh soil on top of and around the stumps and plant the fairy mountain and surrounding area with shade perennials that will work in your garden zone (see plan above for further ideas). I used hosta and fern for the back and sides of the garden and a groundcover – golden creeping jenny – for the front section of the garden.
- Find an old used pallet from a friend or on a website like Freecycle.org especially if you are on a tight budget! Decide which side of the pallet you would like to face front. We chose a side that had more space to hold the plants because several boards were missing.
- Staple black landscape fabric firmly over the back side of the pallet so soil will not escape out the back.
- Using the black landscape fabric and staples, build pockets that are around four to six inches deep to hold soil and plants. Again – judge creatively where the plants should go on the pallets – it is different for every pallet as each pallet is shaped differently. Try to staple landscape fabric in a way that will prevent soil from leaking out the sides and front.
- Use old bricks or landscaping stone to build a foundation for the pallets so they are lifted above the plants at the back of the fairy garden.
- Place pallets on top of bricks. We secured the mid section of the pallets to the fence behind it by using zip ties.
- Fill the pallet pockets with soil, then begin placing plants tightly into the pallet pockets. If you cannot determine if the pallet wood has been chemically treated, then I would be cautious about planting edible material against it as any leaching could be unsafe for your family to eat. We chose to purchase end-of-the-season annuals from a local nursery for our display: Coleus ‘Kong’, Begonia ‘Gryphon’, Sweet Potato Vine ‘Blackie', Impatiens, and Spider Plant.
- Water pallet planters well.
- Finish design by decorating the garden with little houses and fairy accessories – we found ours for no cost through Freecycle.org and friends.
Maintenance for the amazing fairy pallet garden is simply regular watering throughout the season with a clean out and replant in the spring.
Want fairies in your garden? Consider doing the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” thing. Building a fairy garden from pallets and other reusable and sustainable items. A few pallets, a few logs, a few perennials, and a whole lot of love will help make a beautiful whimsy-filled home for your garden fairy kingdom.
Shawna is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Gardening Nude, which is a guide for living a green lifestyle. She is the CEO of MAD 4 World Enterprises and Partner of 78 Pesos, which is a video production company that specializes in sustainable online content. Shawna is an on-camera spokesperson, newspaper columnist, internationally recognized keynote speaker, environmental and health correspondent. She is an experienced spokesperson with green lifestyle living, organic gardening, culinary, and eco content creation who campaigns for social good. You can learn more about her at http://www.shawnacoronado.com or follow her on twitter @ShawnaCoronado