A Garden of Wonders
By Amber Erickson Gabbey
June’s Mapleton Hill garden is already in a magical setting, with majestic silver maples and historic mansions surrounding the lush landscape. But June wanted to breathe life into the magic by making a garden where fairies would feel right at home. She also wanted an outdoor space where the young and young-at-heart could dream, explore and imagine. “The whole thing, for me, is for the kids,” June says of the inspiration behind her garden.
As a ceramic artist and owner of Junie Moons Handmade Creations, June crafted numerous fairy houses and surrounded them with elements she thought fairies might enjoy, like dragons, mushrooms, snails and other things. Then she placed them in and around colorful plants for places to hide and seek. “The whole idea was this space of charms and wonder,” June says of her fanciful yard. “If I put tiny houses and other things there, then the fairies would come.”
But fairies aren’t the only ones who came to June’s yard. If you look closely, you’ll see a pig snoozing in the shade of a rosebush, a family of geese, and angels and cherubs hiding among the plants. And since fairies need to eat, a patch of wild strawberries came to the garden as well. “They’re all wild,” June says of the strawberries. “I didn’t plant them. Because fairies live here, things just appear. The whole garden is really magical.”
When her contractor landscaped the yard, June had a few requests. She wanted purple clematis vines on the back trellis, she preferred blooming plants with darker colors—purples, blues, dark reds, magentas, dark pinks—and she wanted blooms from spring to fall. While the front and side yards were more traditionally landscaped, the backyard was to contain her fairy garden.
Her intention for her fairy garden was to create a space for magic and imagination, she says. “Kids, especially little girls, they SO believe in it,” June says. And she wanted to enhance their wonder by adding places for fairies to gather, along with whimsical creatures, décor and plants.
Beyond the fairy garden’s perimeter, June’s “tchotchkes” invoke more playfulness. These hidden statues and trinkets were inspired by a childhood memory of her aunt. “When I was young, we would go to my aunt Ruth’s house. She had these animal statues and they were chipped and looked awful,” June recalls. “But as a kid, I couldn’t wait to go over there and run into the yard and look at them. I just loved it! And it didn’t make any difference if one ear was missing or a nose was gone.
“Because I liked it so much, I thought, ‘OK, kids love that kind of stuff, so I’m going to put them all over my yard. Then when my (future) grandchildren come over, it’ll be like an Easter-egg hunt.’”
While not everyone would like a fairy garden, June’s makes sense in today’s digital landscape, she says. “Let’s spark children’s imaginations and get them creating on their own,” she says. “Grab their interest with something that’s outside their computers and their phones.”
Indeed, walking through June’s garden is like going on a treasure hunt. You’ll find fish swimming through the grass, fairies sleeping under moss, and a couple of fierce dragons that keep the fairies safe. So open your eyes wide or you’ll miss the treasures in the foliage. And if you pay extra-close attention, you just might see a fairy buzz by.
The fairy garden is the centerpiece of June’s yard, but a bronze of children playing on a swing grabs the attention of both children and adults.
2A Parade of Geese
A family of geese gracefully meander across June’s front yard.
3A Nymph on a Water Lily
A water nymph frolics amid the grasses while seated on a water lily.
If you’re a pig, there’s no better place to snooze than beneath a rosebush in the hot sunshine.
Purple clematis covers the fence and trellis, and whimsical garden posts inspire plants to grow and toads to croak.
6A Bit of Whimsy
An old-fashioned bicycle is the perfect perch for pots of pansies on the front porch.
7Cherubs in the Rosebushes
Keep your eyes peeled, or you’ll miss the angelic faces in the foliage. These cherubs occupy a boulder beneath some rosebushes.
A weathered shovel-turned-welcome-sign sits beside purple balloon flowers to greet visitors at the front porch.
9A Cozy Spot
The cozy, covered sitting area overlooks the fenced-in fairy garden in the center of the backyard.
10A Pair of Swans
A pair of swans grace the front corner of the property.
A large fairy keeps watch over a village of fairy houses and mushrooms, many of which June crafted from clay in her studio.