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Paula and Lute Simley at the entrance to the enchanted forest. Below photos: A fairy village lines the way. Two white goats are among the colorful, metal animals. Submitted photos

A visit to an enchanted forest of West Fargo home

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Miniature fairy gardens are all the rage these days. However, Luther and Paula Simley have created a full size fairy garden at their West Fargo home.

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The Simleys built their beautiful home in 1997 on a lot that was thick with trees. They kept as many as possible and left a natural wood strip 40 feet wide by 100 feet long between their home and the neighbor to the west. Their backyard is large so they did not want more grass.

After visiting Camp Wilderness and enjoying the walkways through the woods to the lake, they began making their own trail. The trail evolved from a dirt path to one covered with grass clippings and finally to a pea rock covered walkway. The path is lined with horizontal logs and has log crosscuts or cement squares here and there for stepping-stones. Now, even when it rains there is a good walking surface. The trees overhead form a natural umbrella so one barely gets wet in the rain.

After making the trail, Lute and Paula began to introduce elements, especially things they find when they are out and about. They named the trail the 'Enchanted Forest' and in the beginning, it was a fun place for their nieces and nephews to enjoy. Now their grandchildren Lexi and Kali play there.

Family and guests enter under the arch at the northeast end of the garden. Lute has built a fence from cut down tree branches that extends from the gate to the 'enchanted garage.' Natural woodbine fills in to complete the enclosure. Shiny blue spheres are one of the first things to encounter, but then you come to the 'fairy village.' Fairies and their houses sit atop moss covered tree stumps and on the ground.

Paula collects crystals. She told her niece that a crystal is a sign to the fairies that this is a safe place to live. She would giver her niece a crystal and the next day a new fairy would appear. Now her grandchildren believe. The children love to rearrange things in the village so Paula is always surprised after they have been there.

Across from the fairy garden, a pair of rock stacks reminds Lute and Paula of their visit to Sedona where rock stacking is an art. Behind the rocks, a group of Gnomes has taken up residence. Continuing along the way you will see several angels. Shade plants, such as hosta and ferns sprinkled with fairy dust (glitter) and big cement mushrooms fill in around everything.

This natural area is very welcoming to birds and there are many birdhouses in the garden. Paula put up a group of colorful birdhouses and wrens moved right in.

A bench sits halfway through the walkway so one can stop and enjoy nature. There are many surprises throughout, such as a bead wrapped tree and one that is full of silk butterflies.

The south end of the trail is full of fun elements. The children's play area includes a large sandbox and a tire swing that is shaped like a horse. Large, colorful metal animals were gifts to Paula. Two white goats, a rooster, a turtle, butterflies and a flying pig make up the menagerie. Metal flowers add more color to the area.

Surrounding all are natural plants including grasses, Jack in the Pulpit, and Solomon's seal. They moved in some Cow Parsnip from another part of their yard that they originally dug up from the ditch along the Horace road. Cow Parsnip is the largest leaf plant native to North Dakota and produces a large white flower.

The south end of the two-story garage has a balcony built around a tree. This is an excellent place to overlook the forest and trail. A work-shed at the trails exit is the final touch as it looks like a fairy tale house.

Lute and Paula add to their garden every year and they hope to put in fairy lights sometime so that it can be enjoyed after dark.

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Mary Jane Breitling
Breitling is a longtime West Fargo resident and avid gardener always in search of new ideas.
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