Whimsical Creativity

Author Liza Gardner Walsh of Camden has developed a career around the fanciful, whimsical and mysterious. Her books and activity kits tackle everything from treasure hunting to ghost stories, cats to fairies.

In her newest book, the recently released “Fairy House Cooking: Scrumptious Recipes and Fairy Party Fun,” published by Down East, she teaches kids and their grownups how to get in the kitchen for some fairy-themed cooking. But Walsh’s interest in fairies goes back years.

“When my daughters were younger, they were just captivated by them. I’ve always been interested in magical things. But my kids, when we moved here, my older daughter Phoebe was 5 and she started building fairy houses with a vengeance,” Walsh said.

Walsh noticed how her daughter could spend hours and hours outside working on elaborate fairy houses, and got inspired.

“The creativity and the ability to be outside and be engaged and have it be completely open ended and self-directed [interested me as a former educator],” Walsh said.

She’s since written several books about fairy house building, fairy garden building and more, aimed at getting kids outside and interacting with their world.

She recently offered a few tips for would-be fairy house and fairy garden architects.

“A fairy garden is a garden that is designed with the intention of attracting fairies,” Walsh said. She recommends “thinking about what you’re planting in terms of the fairies.”

For instance, she said, fairies apparently like “bell-shaped flowers.” But before you get to planning and planting, you have to find the right location.

“The first thing is to find a good spot — somewhere in your yard that’s kind of protected,” Walsh said. “[Find] a place you’re drawn to.”

Then, you’ll need to gather your materials — plants for a garden or building materials for a house.

“For fairy houses, I always encourage natural materials,” Walsh said. Natural materials can be gathered from around your yard — acorns, fallen tree bark, leaves, twigs and more will work. Once a fairy house is built though, that’s just the beginning. Keep a trained eye for visits from fairy friends and make sure you “update houses and gardens through the year.”

Fairy houses and gardens will change through the seasons — both with the changes you make the natural ones that occur. “Be patient and allow it to unfold,” Walsh said. “The fairies are just happy that you’re thinking about them and that you’re taking care of the world around you.”

And when you’re “creating little spaces within your garden to welcome the fairies,” Walsh said to remember something very important: Have fun.

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