Fairies, toads and gnomes have a place to call home.

For the last five or six years Toni Hartfield has been constructing a fairy garden village in the backyard of her Red Wing home. The time-consuming hobby began when she took a fairy home class with a friend. The original home is long gone with weathering taking its toll. Since then Hartfield has expanded her fairy garden home into a fairy garden village displaying her creativity along the way and encouraging others to get involved.

“Everybody can do it,” Hartfield said. “Everyone is going to be an original.”

Toni Hartfield and her granddaughter - Isabella Hartfield - pose in front of their handmade fairy homes.  Photo courtesy of Toni Hartfield
Toni Hartfield and her granddaughter - Isabella Hartfield - pose in front of their handmade fairy homes. Photo courtesy of Toni Hartfield

Creating a home for fairies

Many pieces in Hartfield’s village are upcycled. One home is simply a pot turned upside down. Another is made from a stump of a neighbour’s fallen tree. She finds material for her village at discount stores, thrift stores and garage sales. She even buys items just to rip off accessories to use in her village.

”You’re just looking for little parts of stuff,” Hartfield said.

She incorporates nature by finding material while hiking. She uses mushrooms and rocks as roofing and pine cones as pine trees. Hartfield looks at these objects through a creative lense and can see their potential.

“Be creative, open your mind, it can be anything,” Hartfield said.

Toni Hartfield uses items found in nature such as bark and mushrooms to make her fairy homes look more organic. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia
Toni Hartfield uses items found in nature such as bark and mushrooms to make her fairy homes look more organic. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia

On average it can take Hartfield a couple of months to complete a detailed fairy home. This time frame includes wiring, cutting and cementing the homes as well as finding the material to include. She said her favorite part of the process is when it all comes together.

Animals visiting the garden

Flowers, herbs, rhubarb, squash and other edible plants surround the fairy village. Although some of these plants are for the enjoyment of Hartfield and her family, others are there to ward off animals. Rabbits, birds, squirrels and a fox have paid a visit to Hartfield’s fairy village.

Some wildlife is welcome to roam the village streets. Hartfield shares the story of one American toad that claimed one of her fairy homes as its own. It had hopped through the door of one home and burrowed under it.

Other animals are not as welcome. Hartfield has strategically planted chives near her village to deter animals from ripping up the turf and cracking the mini cement sidewalks. Hartfield says animals such as deer and rabbits dislike the smell of chives. A trellis for the vining plants also prevents animals from entering and damaging her village.

“So you see the deer can't really get in there,” Hartfield said. “There’s obstacles.”

An American toad claimed the mushroom home as its own in this Red Wing fairy garden. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia
An American toad claimed the mushroom home as its own in this Red Wing fairy garden. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia

Tips to make your own fairy garden

Hartfield says it is easy to make a fairy garden affordable by finding reasonably priced fairy garden objects at thrift stores and garage sales.

“You just get creative,” Hartfield said. “Look around and a lot of this stuff can just be painted.”

She suggests checking out a store’s clearance and sold “as is” sections for building material. Incorporating elements of nature, such as adding a piece of bark or a mushroom gives the fairy home an organic feel. Hartfield suggests laying down burlap around the fairy home and gluing moss onto it. This makes the area more aesthetically pleasing and the burlap prohibits weeds from popping up. Bamboo shoots can be pierced through the burlap to hold the mat down.

If there is a desire to add real flowers to the garden she suggests going to a gardening store to get plant advice. The staff at Gertens was helpful in determining the best plants that would work in her location, as well as the plants that deter pests.

This bear-themed fairy home was inspired by Toni Hartfield's trips up north. The door is made out of a picture frame. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia
This bear-themed fairy home was inspired by Toni Hartfield's trips up north. The door is made out of a picture frame. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia

Hartfield covers her village during the winter to protect it from the harsh weather. Any detachable items can be stored away until spring. She recommends spraying craft spray or applying marine varnish to the homes each year to protect them from weathering.

Although this hobby has consumed many hours, Hartfield says she is ready to focus on other things. She does not have any plans to expand her village but would rather spend time doing other hobbies.

Her newest passion is creating cement stepping stones for her garden. Many of the stepping stones feature fairy theme and cute sayings.

“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun,” Hartfield said.