A “fairy’s-eye” view of Oak Park gardens

Fairy garden located on Wisconsin Avenue
The Wisconsin Avenue fairy garden.

Oak Park is home to more than 50,000 people, not including some of its smaller residents: fairies. Across Oak Park, many residents are setting up fairy gardens, small outdoor decorations meant to depict little villages and houses home to fantastical creatures.

One such site can be seen at the Maze Branch Library, called the sensory garden. “The garden was first created in 2019 as a way to engage the community, specifically those in our community who identify as disabled,” said Jenny Jackson, early childhood community engagement coordinator for the library. 

“As my colleague Shelley Harris and I were thinking of different ways to engage friends with the garden, knowing that not everyone may feel comfortable planting and handling soil, we loved the idea of creating a fairy garden and hosting a program where families got to create the garden together.”

The garden is located on the south side of the library, in a raised garden box just off the sidewalk. Many of these fairy gardens can also be seen on parkways and on the corners of intersections. Keeping a keen eye on the sides of houses facing the street is also a good way to spot them.

Many of these fairy gardens popped up during the pandemic. “I had done indoor fairy gardens before, but there were so many little kids that weren’t getting to socialize,” said Mary Anne Mohanraj, a fairy garden owner, author and member of the District 200 Board of Education. “I was just trying to come up with things that the local neighborhood kids could play with or at least enjoy walking by.”

Walking around Oak Park, it’s easy to be caught up with the architecture of large houses and buildings, but sometimes looking lower can be just as interesting.