Magic is circulating in this cozy, intimate neighborhood. Turning off of Magnolia, a wide street parallel to Tower Grove Park, one is struck by the closeness of the houses, the narrow confines of the street, and the amiable neighbors. It is no surprise that the majority of the houses on Magnolia Terrace are adorned with small houses in their front yards, called fairy gardens.
Molly Koebbe, a preschool teacher at Forest Park Montessori and a mother of two sons embraces the cleverness and ingenuity of these tiny living spaces built for fairies.
“Fairy gardens,” Koebbe said, “were a good way to get [my kids] out and inspire them, and show them a little bit of wonder.”
Koebbe’s first gardens started from scratch, as a bonding activity with her children in the park.
“We would pick up different natural resources, like sticks or leaves. We would tie and weave everything together to make little paths and leave them out there. Then the next day, we would come back and they would be destroyed, and I would tell the boys that the fairies had had a really good time in that house last night, and that’s why it fell down,” she said.
As Fairy Gardens gained popularity in the community, Koebbe started constructing permanent ones in her front yard, rather than temporary gardens in her backyard or in the park. This new level of creativity has attracted people of all ages;even those without children participate in the communal activity.
“It got our community out and walking through the neighborhood, which is what we need more of in the city. It creates a safer feeling,” Koebbe said.
Koebbe is inspired by the unique and elaborate designs her neighborhood has created from natural supplies.
“It’s just so cute to see the cleverness and creativity of everybody,” Koebbe said.
Fairy gardens have brought the Magnolia Terrace community together as a whole. Koebbe often sees people she has never seen before that are now willing to strike up a conversation just because of a common idea. Not only has it brought the adults together as a community, but the fairy gardens create an element of wonder in a child’s life.
She will often encourage kids passing by to play with the garden, to “give the fairies a surprise for when they get home”.
The fairy gardens are small, often no taller than the height of the grass with an area of about the size of a tree trunk. This can make them harder to spot for adults who are not paying attention, but fascinating for young children who can see the magic in everyday life. However, Koebbe is beginning to realize the true value of these small, detailed societies.
“If I’m on a walk by myself, and I’m brooding about something in my head, I see a fairy garden and it kind of takes me out of that mindset. It helps remind me of the lightness in life, the playfulness of life, which is really important,” Koebbe said.
These organic, elaborately designed fairy gardens offer an insight into a world of fancy, one that children and adults alike may enjoy and revel in.
“Once you see them, you can’t unsee them,” Koebbe said.