If you picture the Queen of England living in metro Detroit, you would have an accurate picture of my Nana. She is quite elegant and proper, and she always makes time for a cup of tea. She did, indeed, finally move back to her home country of England, but for my entire childhood I got to visit her one week each Summer at her condo in Detroit. I looked forward to that week the entire year. I loved to visit her and play in her balcony garden. Nana was an avid gardener, and she spent hours and hours in the garden on her expansive balcony. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. People all over town knew where I was staying when I said, “That condo with the beautiful garden.”
I always thought her garden was pretty, but gardening didn’t really appeal to me when I was young. While Nana would work in her garden, I would read her books or look at the artifacts she had brought back from her world travels. One day when I was about 7 years old, I came across a book called The Complete Book of Flower Fairies. I adored its pictures of little fairies dancing through gardens—the Purple Lilac Fairy, the Pink Rose Fairy, etc. I started to dream of what the world would be like if fairies really did dance through gardens.
My brilliant idea hit me when I was looking at the picture of the Morning Glory Fairy. Morning glories were my Nana’s favorite flowers, so obviously they were mine, too. As I stared at the picture of the Morning Glory Fairy, I thought, “My Nana has those flowers. I wish I could give her a fairy to put in them.” Suddenly, I figured out a way to do it. I waited until Nana came inside to make lunch, then I put my plan into action.
About a half an hour later, Nana came out to her garden to see what I was up to.
“Christine, darling, what are you doing?” she asked in her silky British accent.
“Look, Nana, I made your garden better!” I cried. She looked around nervously, wondering what I may have done to her garden. Then she noticed the fairy on the birdbath—and started laughing.
“I put my Barbies out here to be your flower fairies!” I exclaimed. “Every good garden needs flower fairies, and your garden is the best!” I had put every Barbie in my toy bag out in her garden. There was one swimming in the birdbath, one on the railing tanning herself, and various Barbies peeking out or waving from behind various plants (because flower fairies are very shy—it said so in the book). I tried my best to match the outfits to the colors of the flowers, just like the book did. I was quite proud of myself.
To this day, I have never seen my Nana laugh so hard. She walked around her garden rolling with laughter. Just as she would start to calm down, she’d discover a new Barbie and start laughing all over again. Tears were streaming down her face by the time she turned back to me and told me what a clever girl I was.
And me? I glowed with pride for making my wonderful Nana so happy. ❖
This article was published originally in 2015, in GreenPrints Issue #100.