I am now completely obsessed with the idea of a fairy garden in our weedy eyesore of a flowerbed that sits outside our front door. Especially since Thea suggested in the comments that it might be fun to add in seasonal touches to match the holidays. Ever since she wrote that, I can’t stop thinking about a wee village with strings of teeny colorful Christmas lights, like my very own version of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
I’ve been turning over in my mind how we would approach the space — roughly a 9.5 x 11.5 ft (3 x 3.5 m) rectangle. The fairy houses, paths, “ponds,” and some of the plants are miniature, so I think we might need at least a bench and some other larger hardscaping as well to balance it out. After all, part of the fun of a fairy garden is to discover all the little nooks and cranies amid the bigger scene.
Enter the cement leaves project.
As part of their tween/teen programs, our library teamed up with a local Girl Scout troop to offer really great classes this summer. It’s such an excellent idea, benefitting the Scouts, the library and the community, that I hope they continue it in the future. My daughter E has loved every single second of them — especially the one teaching her how to make cement leaves.
Here’s how they did it (as related to me by E): you pick large-ish leaves from weeds, hostas, cabbages, sycamore trees, etc. and lay them down on a piece of cardboard covered with a plastic bag. Then you mix about 2 parts cement, 2 parts play sand, and 1 part water (with a tablespoon or so of cement fortifier) to a frosting-like consistency. Don some rubber gloves and gently spread the concrete mixture over the leaf with your hands. Then you let it dry for a few days, misting it with water so the cement doesn’t dry too quickly (causing it to crack and crumble). Then when it’s dry, you carefully flip it over and peel off the leaf.
According to E (and the Girl Scouts who taught her this project), you can use these leaves to decorate a garden, to make stepping stones, or to angle water away from a gutter spout. And if you mold the leaf around a pile of sand as you spread on the concrete, you can even make a little bird bath or fountain.
I found a wonderful step-by-step tutorial for making these leaf castings by Frances at her Fairegarden blog (note her proportions for mixing the concrete are slightly different than what E did). She shows how to make a “feet” underneath the leaf, so it sits on top of, rather than directly on, the ground. She also includes suggestions on how to emphasize the veining patterns and how to paint your leaves. If you are thinking of making your own castings, you should really check out her detailed directions.
My list of “absolutely-have-to-have projects” is already too long, but I’m tacking this one on as well. They would really be the perfect accents in a fairy garden, and apparently my subconscious has allowed that project to leapfrog the queue to the top of the list.
Of course, I’ll have to weed that area first. Sigh.
Anyone else want to play with some leaves and concrete?