A touch of whimsy: Fairy gardens latest trend in backyard gardening

Off the beaten path at a farm in Scenery Hill lies a magical fairy trail that is part of 33 acres lovingly tended to by owners John and Betty Robison.

The property, located on Daniels Run Road in Washington County, is home to Robison Acres where visitors can take a tour and purchase pesticide free plants and vegetables along with handmade wood items like birdhouses and trellises designed by John Robison.

“There’s lots to learn and lots to see,” said Betty Robison, a volunteer Master Gardener at Penn State Extension in Washington County.

Robison Acres opens for the season April 29 and will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the third week of June.

According to Betty Robison, the property was designated in 2011 as a Wild Plant Sanctuary by the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources for it’s native and endangered plants.

Since then, the Robisons have cultivated a labor of love out of their favorite past time they share with people of all ages.

Sherry Kopko, a Master Gardener at Penn State Extension in Westmoreland County, said fairy gardens are among the latest trends in backyard and flower gardening featuring miniature items and plants tucked away in small spaces.

“You’re really only limited by your own imagination,” said Kopko. “People that might not physically be able to garden, or perhaps consider themselves to have a black thumb, can actually create magnificent gardens since it doesn’t require laborious back-breaking work.”

In her 19 years as a master gardener, Robison said she would always look at ways to engage children in DIY Safety outside gardening with something other than plants.

By using “life-like” figurines to connect with children’s imaginations, Robison created a fairy utopia along a 500-foot trail creative outdoor designs adding to it each year items she collects and receives as presents.

To make it more interactive, children receive a message handwritten by her niece to learn more about fairies so they can imitate things they do like humming while walking on the trail.

“Some kids come dressed in tutus, and it’s great to let them have that fantasy and explore,” said Robison.

Among her favorite items are a fairy circus garden equipment complete with a ferris wheel, wire act and trapeze, a fairy school and a fairy boot that Robison staged to represent the Mother Goose nursery rhyme, “There was an Old Woman that lived in a Shoe.”

In the near future, the fairy trail will feature mini replicas of a house made out of dirt and moss, a skyscraper, a campground with trailers purchased by Robison’s sister and a mailbox so kids can send letters to their favorite fairies.

Robison said a friend even made a set of fairy wings out of tin gardening roofing adorned with glitter so kids can energy directory stand in front of them and have their picture taken.

As they continue their journey to connect with nature, Robison Acres will be buzzing with more excitement this year as John takes on the role of beekeeper building hives in the fields to make honey.

Betty said the couple is giving away a pot of clover with each purchase to remind customers that bees are an important staple of spring.

“You name it we run the gamut,” said Betty.



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