WARSAW — Pending certification by Guinness World Records, Superior Landscape Products in Warsaw boasts “the world’s largest fairy garden tree,” as its designer, Karen Rowland, describes it.
Record or not, the massive hollow tree stump, prominently displayed in Superior’s showroom, houses a miniature wonderland of scenes inside and out, containing “well over 300” figures, an active waterfall and an adjoining fairy-laden beanstalk.
The 13,000-pound stump, measuring 13 feet across and 8 feet high, came from a property on Sechrist Lake a couple miles north of the business located at 3114 US 30 east of town.
The property owner hired the company to remove the large tree blocking his view of the lake.
“We do wood recycling here,” said Superior’s co-owner Peg Custer,” so we put it on the woodpile.”
But Peg’s husband, Dale, didn’t want to grind the stump into mulch and it remained on the pile for about eight months.
In the spring of 2016 Superior brought in a line of fairy garden items. “That is when Dale realized what he was going to do with the stump,” said Peg. “Dale’s and my vision was to take the stump and create the largest fairy village.”
They “cleaned, debarked and debugged” the stump and enlisted Rowland, then a new employee, to design the garden. Within six days, Rowland had crafted five elaborate scenes around the trunk, including scenes depicting each of the four seasons.
The tree now hosts at least a dozen small fantasy lands, including a farm, baby-sitting scene, mermaid lagoon, mountainside waterfall, wedding chapel, small boys’ campsite, gold salt mine and “a circle of standing stones,” an homage to Rowland’s favorite book, “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon.
Rowland has invested more than 1,000 hours of her artistic skills into a labor of love she still considers “a work in progress.”
She encourages visitors to “take your time and walk around it several times. Each time you will see something new.”
Rowland said she “tried to find as many natural things as possible” to construct the scenes. She tapped into her personal supply of driftwood she gleaned from the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. “I’m a beach bum,” she said.
“I’m just an artist and when I see a piece of driftwood that catches my eye, I have to have it because I know I am going to make something out of it someday. I see the potential in natural things. It is like seeing shapes in the clouds. I see images in driftwood.”
Rowland also used real moss and Dryad’s saddle fungus she picked up during walks in the woods, made the vegetables in the garden display from modeling clay and used tongue depressors for a fence. Company inventory includes rocks, slate and pea gravel.
She reckoned there are “probably 100” different materials comprising the fairy scenes.
Her work on the fairy garden is more than just a task. “For years I have worked in high-stress jobs in food service and more recently in an office job,” she said. “This has really been therapeutic. I love what I do here.”
Future plans include installing “little stumps for the kids to sit inside and have storytelling time” and arranging bus tours for the fairy garden and Superior’s Himalayan salt cave.
For more information, call the business at (574) 372-DIRT (3478) or Peg Custer at (574) 453-1200 or email [email protected]