ISU Extension Shares Unique Gardens to Consider

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach of Dallas County provides research-based information on various topics—including horticulture. The Master Gardener program allows for citizens to become formally trained, participate in community projects and become experts in all things lawn and garden. The following are their tips on planting fairy and edible gardens.
Fairy gardens are a way to bring horticulture mixed with a whimsical theme to your yard. When hearing the term “fairy garden,” some may have visions of glittering dust and plants that sneeze and come to life with personality— but really, it’s up to the gardener to create the magic. Most commonly, fairy gardens are designed in large pots or fun containers such as rain barrels, deep birth baths and wheel barrows. They can also be placed around tree stumps or by front door stoops to add a surprising landscape element for visitors. Use small trinkets, Christmas clearance, old kids’ toys, craft store supplies and thrift shop finds to set the scene for your fairy town. Fill in around your “props” with dwarf plants and succulents. Some good suggestions are golden moss, dwarf white cedar, fiber optic grass, creeping speedwell, oxalis ‘Charmed Wine’ and miniature mat daisies.
If a practical garden is more ideal, add color with edible plants. Vegetables aren’t the only option for homegrown food. Flowers such as lilacs, daylilies and roses can be added to your dinner plate. These particular blooms have a sweet taste that can be a nice complement to salads, jams and even in yogurt. Another useful option is chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Lavender flowers can be found on this perennial during mid-summer. It’s recommended to harvest these blooms just as they are beginning to open, and regular pruning will encourage a steady flow of repeat blooms. These flowers have a mild onion flavor and are a tasty addition to casseroles, eggs, baked potatoes and cream cheese.  To see what other plants can be used to add additional flavor or beauty to a dish, download “Edible Flowers” (RG 302), a free Extension publication at
For additional information or questions, contact the ISU Extension Hortline at (515) 294-3108 or to speak to horticulture specialists about your gardening needs and questions.

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