- April 10, 2013

A Visit to the Zilker Faerie Trail


Have you been to see the faerie houses at the Zilker Botanical Gardens yet? The first annual Faerie Architecture Show features a trail of tiny faerie homes and gardens created by Austin area gardeners, architects, and more. I (Leigh Ann) took my three girls a few weeks ago, and I admit, it was pretty magical.

First things first — do you have your faerie wings and tutu? Dressing up is fun, but definitely not required. One of my daughters opted for a bat costume, but whatever gets you in the mood to hunt for faerie houses, right?

The faerie houses were set along the Escarpment Trail, just northwest of the parking lot and north of the Oak Grove. The trail goes in a circle, and each of the houses was marked with a blue sign indicating who designed and built the structure. You can imagine that faerie houses are pretty small, and a lot of them were hidden or camouflaged into the surrounding foliage. The blue signs were the perfect aid in our hunt for houses, and each time they found a blue sign, my girls knew a house was nearby. 

I was astounded by the amount of detail in each house. Ladders made from tiny sticks, peat moss gardens, and the tiniest decorative elements crafted carefully from metal wire, shells, and wood. Each house is its own wonderful work of art. I really could have stood and studied each one for several minutes if I wasn’t so busy trying to keep three pairs of little hands out of the houses. They really wanted to see those faeries!

The trail didn’t take too terribly long to cover, and everyone stayed engaged and excited to find the next house. The best part? My girls really believed that faeries lived in the houses and were out “working” for the day. I’m not sure what “faerie work” is, but I convinced them.

If you’re planning on visiting the faerie trail, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Admission to the Zilker Botanical Garden is $1 for children age 3 – 12, $2 for adults 13 – 61, and $1 for age 62 and up. Cash or check preferred. It’s best to know how much you should owe before you pull up, because I was almost overcharged. 
  • Know where you’re going. I naively thought that the faerie trail would be easy to spot upon entering the botanical gardens from the parking lot, but turns out I had never ventured that far west in the gardens. If you’re not sure where the trail is, pick up a map at the gift shop and ask for directions. I will warn you though, I was drawn incorrect directions on my map by the gift shop attendant. Thankfully an employee who saw that my faeries and I were clearly lost set us on the correct path. We were actually very close to the trail, but also getting very discouraged!
  • Watch for the blue signs to show you where each house is. Since most of them are very well camouflaged, telling my girls to hunt for the blue signs was the perfect way to help them find the houses.
  • Some of the faerie houses are barricaded off with rope or wood, but many of them are out in the open and susceptible to little hands and feet. So be careful!
  • Tour the faerie trail first, then explore the rest of the gardens. Since we initially didn’t know where the houses were, we covered a lot of ground before we finally asked for directions, and my kids were getting tired and discouraged. They perked right up once we found the trail, but it would have been nice to have viewed more of the gardens without the pressure of looking for the houses.
  • No outside food or drink is allowed in the gardens. 

The Zilker Faerie Homes and Gardens will be on display through May 26, 2013. The grounds usually open at 7 a.m., and close at 7 p.m. during the spring and summer months. Visitors can also sign up for an upcoming Faerie Landscaping Workshop ($5 plus kit costs), where attendees will work with gardeners and horticulture staff to create adorable faerie saucer gardens using live plants and natural materials to take home and invite a faerie into your backyard. For more information on the workshop, call 512-477-8672.

So have you or will you and your little faeries or faerie lovers be visiting the Faerie Architechture Show? Have any more tips for us? I must say I look forward to the next event!

For more information, visit the Zilker Botanical Gardens website.

Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog