Fairy Gardening

By Mike Anderson / Contributing Editor

A little gardening can
be big business

Creative retailers are always looking for the next big thing as well as new niche markets. Fairy Gardening, or the more generic miniature gardening, is one of those markets where some stores have enjoyed success, and some have passed on it altogether.

Art of Imagination
If your customers love mystical landscapes populated with fairies then they likely would love Fairy Gardening.  With customers becoming hobbyists of this form of gardening, they transport themselves into another world, and experience the enviable feeling of having their dreams come true. Your store could be their dream fulfillment center.

A Fairy Garden, by definition, is miniature gardening with a whimsical touch of Fairy-scale houses, fairy figurines, and tiny accessories. Fairy gardens have become popular because they harmonize with many generational hobbies like terrariums and rock gardens. 

“The popularity has grown immensely over the years,” says Patti Kuhlman, Owner of Wholesale Fairy Gardens. “We have documented that fairy garden supplies have been selling faster than many of our customers can re-stock them.”

Name That Mini-Garden
To distinguish between the many different types of gardens is simple. If you take the fairy out of the Fairy Garden, it becomes a Miniature Garden; add a Buddha, and it becomes a Meditation Garden or Zen Garden. Place your miniature garden in a container and it becomes a Container Garden. Throw in a tiny trestle and a HO gauge Lionel and you have a Train Garden. Add a tiny gnome or gargoyle…well…you get the picture. Each different style is created from your own inspiration.

Mini Mary, How Does Your
Garden Grow?
Like birding, miniature gardening is a growing hobby. While wild-bird store sales associates know which nest boxes attract which birds, retailers adding miniature gardening as a category will need to know the basics about popular miniature plants (the ones that attract the fairies…seriously?). The store might also need to carry whimsical cottages, gnome doors, bridges, rustic fences, and even a miniature animal or two to be purchased and utilized in the miniature garden.

“Some retailers are unsure about Fairy Gardening,” adds Kuhlman. “We offer retailers a ‘Starter Pack’ that gives stores an opportunity to test the market without investing a lot of money. If you want to jumpstart your sales, fairy garden workshops are a huge success and a great profit opportunity.”

Fad or Trend
“Dealers who carry wild bird plus garden definitely are selling this category…” says Sally McClary, Category Coordinator with Bradley Caldwell Distributors. “Fairy/miniature gardening does well, but I don’t know that I see it as a strong category for a store that only sells wild bird products.  It has grown the past two seasons and seems to have some life to it… it definitely will be here for a while.”

“A lot of our members offer both Fairy Gardening and Miniature Gardening,” says Gerry Docksteader, VP Operations, Master Nursery Garden Centers. “I see Fairy Gardening as a growth market covering a three to five year trend.”

“We do offer Fairy Gardening products to our dealers,” says Jayne McGee, Wild Bird Product Coordinator for United Hardware Distribution. “I think the garden centers do better with them as they also offer the greenery to go with the product. I think it could be starting to trend down. It has been around for a few years.”

“Our customers that are buying are mostly high-end garden stores,” says Jeff Gotter, Lawn and Garden Merchandiser, Prince Corporation. “I don’t know if the end user would associate this line with bird stores, high-end or not. Dealers that devote the time to the line do well with it.”

“It certainly seems as though the miniature gardening things are becoming more available based on both what I saw at AmericasMart Atlanta and what I see at local ‘big box’ hobby stores,” adds Audrey Harrelson, Owner, Wild Birds Unlimited, Peachtree City, Georgia.

“I tried one product in the fairy garden niche last year with no success,” says Holly Seaver, Manager, Songbird Station, Columbia, Missouri. “I don’t feel we gave it enough exposure or enthusiasm to have an honest appraisal of how it would go. We are expanding our garden- outdoor living area, so I may bring in miniature garden products and display/promote more.  So many people want a garden or outdoor area, but have such limited space that I see it up-trending. It’s a way to ‘get out and play in the dirt’, albeit in a small way.”

Judy Gasvoda-Ward, Owner, Wild Bird Shoppe, West Lafayette, Indiana agrees. “Yes I would recommend fairy gardening, because it’s easy to get started, it doesn’t take up much room, and it’s fun!”