Kid-Friendly Fairy Gardens

They come waving wands and wearing wings with tiaras on their heads. Some even have magnifying glasses clutched in their hands. It's October at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and the place is buzzing with kids on a mission.

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  • 1 of 13

    Rapunzel's Towers

    Gathering gnarly grape wood, lotus pods, and birch bark for this miniature creation at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, Rapunzel's towers took creator David D. J. Rau much searching. But putting together the whimsical kingdom was accomplished in a long weekend -- except for braiding Rapunzel's golden hair. "That took forever," David says.

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    Lord of the Rings Hobbit House

    A magnifying glass helps young visitors search for Gandalf’s pipe hidden in The Lord of the Rings hobbit house created from painted polymer clay by the Metal Clay Artisan Guild of Connecticut.

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    Jack and the Beanstalk Castle

    At 10 Cloud Lane, the intricate giant’s castle from Jack and the Beanstalk hovers in a dogwood tree. Although artists Carol Hall-Jordan and Kathryn Stocking-Koza suspended the castle in cotton clouds, it’s actually kid height. 

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    The Wizard King's Castle

    Artist William Vollers salvaged farm posts and barn wood to create the princess’s castle in The Wizard King. If you look carefully at the castle, you will see where seashells become door handles and dowel rods serve as stairsteps.

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    The Frog Prince's Kingdom

    Fittingly, the Frog Prince’s kingdom dwells down by the creek, which is where mother-and-son design team Lori and Edward Lenz set these clay columns topped by living moss. Pebbles frame the windows and pave the road for the princess, who broke the curse and turned the frog back into royalty with a kiss. The creators also tackled the intricate tunnels built into both sides of the stream bank of the Frog Prince’s home.

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    Tiger Lily's Village

    Originally, artists Madeline Kwasniewski and T. Arthur Donnally used leather for the wigwams in Tiger Lily’s Village but turned to treated, weatherproof paper instead when leather wasn’t sufficiently pliable. To keep Tiger Lily fed, an acorn cap is suspended on a twig tripod over the fire pit.

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    Village of the Twelve Dancing Princesses

    Students of the Deep River Elementary School banded together to craft the intricate village of the Twelve Dancing Princesses around an ancient European beech tree. Each student decorated a faerie house.

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    King Arthur's Castle

    A sea urchin serves as the roof on a birchbark turret in King Arthur’s castle -- painted by father-and-daughter team John and Jean Sullivan -- to match the sycamore tree where it dwells.

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    Harry Potter's Hideaway

    If somebody shrank Hogwarts and built it in a twisted willow, Harry Potter would live like this, behind an aqueduct of clay and pebbles in this creation by Kristen Thornton. The artist shrank the heraldic dining hall at Hogwarts, but nonetheless, the table in this Harry Potter-theme kingdom is set for a feast.

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    Queen Titania's Salon

    Artists Tammi Flynn, Cheryl Poirier, and Lisa Reneson chose the theme A Midsummer Night’s Dream to show how the Faerie Queen Titania sets up her beauty salon in a pea surrounded by blossoms.

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    Cinderella's Home

    Not surprisingly, Cinderella set up housekeeping where her dried gourd is roofed with pinecone "shingles."

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    Making Your Own Fairy Garden

    When thinking about creating your own fairy garden in your backyard, unleash your imagination, because what looks like a table is really lichen. What seems like a stool is a mushroom. A swing is made of seedpods, and a roof is fashioned from seashells. If you notice a buzz whizzing by in Old Lyme during October, it might be a pollinator. But then again, it could be a winged faerie headed home.

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