Part of the fun of gardening is the freedom to try new things and be creative while playing in the dirt. One way some gardeners are showing their creativity these days is by building a fairy garden, a miniature world that just might be inhabited by the Wee Folk. These miniature gardens can be created in repurposed odds and ends, such as an old bathtub or feed trough, or they can be built in a small pocket garden separated from your main flower and vegetable gardens. Wherever you create your fairy garden, here are a few herbs that might just fit in nicely.
When thinking tiny, the first herb that comes to mind is wooly thyme (Thymus lanuginosus), a prostrate herb that grows only an inch high. The stems are densely covered with fuzzy green leaves, creating a fine mat over the soil. If planted near the edge of a container it will form a pretty cascade over the side. Another low growing herb is pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), a mint that generally reaches only 3-4 inches high. The small glossy penny-sized leaves are larger than wooly thyme and have a minty medicinal scent. Keep pennyroyal regularly trimmed to maintain the low profile. Like most members of the mint family it needs regular water and protection from the sun to flourish.
A nice addition to a fairy garden would be miniature trees made from herbs clipped topiary-fashion to form a trunk with branches. A young rosemary plant can be easily shaped for this purpose but will need to be replaced once it grows beyond the bounds of the fairy garden. You might prefer instead to use some of the small-leaved scented geraniums such as lemon scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum) for this purpose. The tight curly leaves grow densely enough on the branches to serve as a miniature tree.
If you’d like to learn more about creating fairy gardens, here are three recently published books on the subject: