By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to ALLOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – If you drive past Bunny and Lewis Hamilton’s historic home on the corner of Main and River streets, you might just feel a little magic.
“We had built a fairy garden for my own mother a few years back,” said Deb Ackerman. “She loved it, and we wanted to do something special for Bunny.”
Bunny, a past president of Cooperstown Lake & Valley Garden Club and a local benefactress generally – The Fenimore Art Museum’s lakeside amphitheater is named in her honor – was a dedicated gardener for years.
As she got older, she wasn’t able to do her own gardening, so she brought in Ackerman and her sister Susan to help.
“We could never figure out what to do with the wishing well,” said Deb. “Because there wasn’t good access to water, anything we planted in there died very quickly.”
The solution was to turn it into a “fairy garden,” complete with moss and statuary. The fairy garden was a hit, especially with Bunny’s great-grandchildren.
This year, mobility issues prevented Mrs. Hamilton from getting down the steps to the garden, so the sisters moved the garden to where she could enjoy it.
“I love her dearly and wanted her to be included in the garden again,” Deb said. “She loved her dollhouse, so I knew she’d love a fairy garden.”
The garden is now wheelchair accessible from the Hamiltons’ patio, just a few feet from her door.
Bunny and Susan planned the layout while Deb shopped for accessories and statuary to put in the garden. “We wanted to do a few distinct sections,” she said.
The first, closest to the house, is a small house and patio for the fairies to reside. “I wanted to find a house that looked like hers!” she said. “I didn’t, but I found a cute one that’s sort of similar and a few fairies.”
There is also a unicorn section, complete with tiny unicorns and fairies, and a little farm stocked with sheep, cows and ducks. “I just keep finding animals and adding to it,” said Deb. “She enjoys that immensely.”
Rivers of polished stones wind through sections, and wrought-iron fencing sections them each off individually. They also added lights to make the garden magical even after dusk.
But it isn’t a garden without plants. “For the other garden, we had brought in lots of annuals and perennials, lots of color,” she said. “We had to go with stuff that doesn’t take a lot of water.”
Some of those flowers, planted earlier this summer, were moved from the lower garden for texture and color, and Deb gathered moss from the woods.
As fall approaches, Deb and Susan are beginning to think about what else they want to do with the garden before the season ends. “We’re thinking about putting together an autumn version of the garden,” she said. “Maybe a little red wagon, filled with pumpkins, hay bales and little trees.”