By Ted Ross with Irene Fraser 

Photos by Shelbea Julseth-White

There is a spot for 'little people' in James Bay. On Menzies Street a Gnome Garden has appeared in front of New Horizons, as if touched by a magic wand.

Early in the year of 2015, gnome gardens seemed to spring up all over town - especially one near Government House. The best now is on Pilot Street at the home of Dave and Lyndel Donald.

Intrigued by these enchanting plots, Irene Fraser offered to create one at New Horizons. At first she intended to establish it around the tree on the city boulevard directly across from the JBNH main entrance, but this was not possible. Irene, now struck with the gnome garden fever, reconsidered the bed's location.

An unused area in an odd corner adjacent to the main entrance was chosen. It was a neglected, untidy spot and recipient of cigarette butts and other detritus. Not a growing thing was to be found there. Today it is an enchanted place for gnomes and fairies and children of all ages. It is a wee bit of magic!

The magical spot is located around a tree just south of the JBNH main entrance, between the covered sitting area and the building.

Many figurines populate the patch. Gnomes, cherubs, angels and fairies are seen. There are 'critters'; bears, a cat, turtle, horse, mule and many others. A frog, unicorn, pig, snail and mouse dwell in the enchanted garden.

Furnishings in Lilliputian size consist of a table and chairs, a silo, an English home, a wishing well and a teapot house. There is a fountain. Teapots are found around. A small red gnome door and other smaller doors attached to the tree trunk imply entrances into homes in the tree. White fences and an arbour complete the illusion. Items were either bought or donated. Irene constructed a few of them.

Even though the plot is south of the main entrance, due to walls it is a low-light area. The plants chosen are low growing and shade-loving. Creeping thyme, ferns, blue star creeper, Irish moss and wintergreen thrive in the fairy garden.

Constructing the miniature wooden devices, which will remain out of doors in every kind of weather, leads to many special considerations. The correct glues and finishes are a must to prevent molds, condensation and cracking from ruining your best efforts. Dave and Lyndel Donald provided the expertise in these critical areas. Irene used her talents to produce two fences and a bridge in this magical garden. In addition she haunted thrift stores, garden shops, hobby emporiums and any other outlet that might have suitable embellishments for the enchanted space, and repainted and repaired them as required.



To determine the layout of the garden, Irene did a mockup on her living room floor. This allowed her to determine scale and spacing. She will tell you, "It's an intuitive process." The results are delightful.

In the future more miniature flowering plants and shrubs will be added. Another smaller bridge will be made. An imaginary river and lake with blue sand and rocks will magically appear with a tea party group doing the same. Look for seasonal trimmings at Halloween, Christmas and Easter.

The Gnome Garden is fully accessible to the public so that anyone at any time can feel its magic. It is not behind locked doors or fences. It is wide open and always available.

Some take advantage of this to steal from the enchanted space. If it is gnomes and leprechauns taking pieces to their homes, it could be understood. But if it's just malicious theft, that's an awfully unkind thing to do to those who love the magic. This is entranced property and a thief will surely draw a curse. There has been a special interest in mushrooms and ten of the twelve ceramic beauties have disappeared. Plants and other items have also gone. This is heartbreaking for Irene, but she looks at what is still there and realizes that the magic hasn't left.

A little boy, wide eyed, takes in the miniature scene. Glancing at his mom first, he squats and knocks on the gnome door wondering if anyone is home. And he is just one of children of all ages who love to look on the garden and imagine.

The Gnome Garden is looking for a volunteer. Needed is a handy person who could fabricate a gnome door for the enchanted patch. If you could help out, please leave a message for Irene Fraser at James Bay New Horizons, 250.383.3035.