As a child in southern California, I had no landscape that called out for the creation of a fairy house. Even as a person who has worked at the Arboretum for eighteen years, I only made my first fairy house on Sunday at noon to draw interest to a Family Hike scheduled for the afternoon. It’s amazing what can come together with sticks, leaves, cones, seeds, and a humble rock or two! So I was excited to see who would show up for the Family Hike, and what they would create!

Families collect materials for their fairy house constructions.
This fairy house has a fireplace!

Dry browns dominate the Arboretum palette in November, punctuated by bundles of evergreen needles or red fruits scattered about. But the ten families that showed up were filled with eager collectors who soon had piles of leaves (thank you, umbrella magnolia!), hundreds of cones, beautiful scarlet berries, a clod of compacted snow, and wispy strands of dawn redwood male pollen sacs. We entered the little redwood stand beside Willow Path, and the exuberance for construction began in earnest. Children and parents collaborated on their fairy houses, and every aspect of construction had meaning. A fireplace appeared, fashioned from fragments of a hornet’s nest and the fleshy warm colors of barberry fruits. A pathway emerged to connect a father’s house to his child’s house. A little fairy hotel was nestled into the low-growing bamboo, and the final joy came when girls called out for me to see the fairy:  a worm curled up in an acorn cap!

Our next Family Hike takes place on Sunday, December 16. Join us!