A fairy wonderland at Wagnalls Memorial

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Nanny Hannah Anderson and two-year-old Micah McCullough enjoy visiting the whimsical fairy homes on the grounds of Wagnalls Memorial.

Look closely when visiting the gardens of Wagnalls Memorial Library in Lithopolis and you may get a peek of fairies visiting one another or see where the fairies reside after their day-to-day flower sojourns.

Just be cautious of the resident tyrannosaurus rex that has a penchant for gnomes living alongside the fairies in the Walker-Hecox-Hickle Gardens.

Inspired by Master Gardener creations added to the beds around the site, Wagnalls Memorial Library Director Tami Morehart said grant money was spent in 2021 to purchase fairy garden pieces, which teenage gardeners used to produce their own creations in the garden.

“In May 2022 we added the large fairy house under the pine trees for small children to play in,” said Morehart. “This and other pieces we are adding are part of a memorial to Ruth Jones who was a lover of the outdoors and reading. The fairies are located throughout the main garden area. As you walk along the pathways, you will find them tucked in amongst the flowers. Watch out for the T-Rex, he tends to carry off gnomes from their homes.”

Master Gardener Nell LaRock is the library’s resident fairy garden expert and wrote, “The Animal Library and Blue (a fairy comes to the Wagnalls Gardens).” She said a fairy garden is a little spot which has a fairy or is suspected of fairy activity.

“If you think nobody takes fairies seriously, check out the lawsuits in the British courts about fairies,” said LaRock, who noted one lawsuit involving a famous author—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Cattingly Fairies. “Sir Arthur believed two little girls who saw fairies. In Iceland, a major highway has a divide in it to allow a fairy mound and bush to stay in place.”

Morehart wanted to make the garden a space where families could enjoy walking through, see the plants, and learn their names, as well as have fun finding the fairies. Each year, more fairies and gnomes are added throughout, which she said is a complement to the little fairy villages.

“We started out around the birdhouse three years ago,” said LaRock, “and it has started moving its way around the garden. Now, more and more gardeners in our group come in with their own pieces. The most important impact of the garden has been the personal connections we’ve made with the community. One of my favorite sights was one of Wagnalls’ maintenance staff walking a state inspector around. Both men were laughing and pointing at the fairy installations.”

OSU Fairfield Master Gardeners maintain the gardens and each volunteer—who is responsible for their own area—is under the leadership of Pam Jarvis. Plants and features are added as the seasons change and while the garden is permanent, the fairies are only out from May through September. Programs are held in the gardens as well.

“We have an Art Festival in June, and our Summer Reading Program during June/July. We hope to do some outdoor concerts in the future,” said Morehart. “In the fall, we have story walks through the gardens. We also are part of the Lithopolis Honeyfest. We talk about pollinators in the gardens and how they are so important. We hope to do a Halloween theme this year.”

Morehart said patrons come in everyday telling staff how beautiful the gardens are and enjoy returning weekly to see the changes in the garden as well as what new fairies are added.

“One patron said it just makes her smile,” said Morehart. “It brings back fond memories of childhood. Our gardens are multi-generational, too. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

A trip to Wagnalls is an outing.

“Get your books, movies, and then take a stroll in the gardens, bring your lunch, and have a picnic,” said Morehart. “The best part is that everything is free. You can come inside and see more fairies. Even on a rainy day there is something fun to see and do.”

Wagnalls Memorial is located at 150 E. Columbus St. in Lithopolis. For information visit wagnallsfoundation.org or call 624-837-4765. The library is closed on Friday and Sunday, but the gardens are always open to the public.

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