Fairies and Dragons

The winter family school holiday program at the Geelong Botanic Gardens in 2016 is Fairies and DragonsFairy gardener

There are trails throughout the Gardens which are accessible to all visitors during the holiday period as well as 4 sessions of activities for families on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. These need to be booked through the Geelong Botanic Gardens website (http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/gbg).

People attending the holiday programs often ask for copies of activities, instructions of how to make things and further links. To make things easy, I’ve gathered everything together here.

Fairy or Dragon sand tray garden

You will need

  • A clean meat tray or take-away container
  • Washed sand (available from hardware shops where it is sold for sandpits)
  • A selection of plant materials – this can be almost anything from flowers, through fallen twigs and small punnings.
  • Other decorative items such as pebbles, shells etc
  • Glitter

Your children will get the most out of this activity if they are encouraged to help collect their plant material and make the garden for themselves.

¾ fill your tray with sand and dampen down with a little water. The sand won’t hold if it’s too dry, but no garden grows in a bog! Excess water can easily be poured off if necessary.

Arrange your pebbles, plant material etc to make a miniature garden.

I like to add a pond made out of a jam jar lid and float tiny flowers on the surface.

When you are done, sprinkle with a bit of fairy dust (glitter)

Fairy Garden

Salt dough Fairy or Dragon figure

This year, we’ve provided each child with a small piece of salt dough to make their own model fairy or dragon (or snail, or snake, or toadstool) for their garden.


To make salt dough

Mix 1 cup salt with 3 ½ cups plain flour and 1 ½ cups cold water

Add a few drops of food colouring if you want coloured figures

Mix thoroughly and then knead until smooth. Children love to help with this, so just break a piece off for them to knead as the full quantity is generally too big for small hands.

Make shapes, roll out and cut with cookie cutters and generally have fun.

When you are done, place your shapes and figures on baking tray lined with baking paper and cook them in a slow oven. They will need at least 2 hours at 140C. But fatter or larger pieces will take longer. (My water dragon took 4 hours).

When your figures are quite dray and hard, remove from the oven and cool before decorating with felt tip pens or poster paint.

To make them glossy and a bit more water resistant, seal with varnish (PVA glue works reasonably well too).

Your figures will look great and can sit in your garden – especially if you sit them on some stones. If they get a bit soggy – just dry them out in the oven again.

Dragon mural

This year we’re making a giant dragon mural to hide the black plastic fence which screens the building works on the conservatory. I don’t take credit for this idea – but I did scale it up. If you want to make your own hand-print dragon, you will find the instructions  and a template at http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/handprint-dragon

Dragon mural

The Dragon’s Blood Tree

Geelong Botanic Gardens logo is our very own Dragon’s Blood Tree.gbg-logo
At Fairies and Dragons we tell the story of the Last, Lost, Little Dragon who just might be hiding in our own dragon’s blood tree. Be sure to take a careful look when you are next in the Gardens.
If you enjoyed the story, here it is again

The Last, Lost, Little Dragon

Far away, and long, long ago, when the earth was already old and dragons were at the end of their reign, on an island thought to the top of the last city of Atlantis there lived a tree.

Not just any tree, but a strange, old and mysterious tree called Dracaena. There was little else on this island – just an enormous volcano, a peculiar bird and an assortment of dragons. There were no rivers or streams and to survive the tree had become very wise.

It just so happened that the Dracaena flowers only once every ten years – producing hundreds of tiny white blooms – and so only fruits once every ten years, bringing forth the bright orange, fleshy berries so loved by dragons.

Dragon's Blood Tree

Dragon’s Blood Tree

Eons passed and the tree, dragons, bird and volcano had co-existed without change, living in peace and in balance with their environment. Then, from across the oceans, ships began passing and people came.

The bird disappeared, along with the dragons, and the volcano and the tree were all that remained. All except for one dragon, a young dragon already ages old, called Draco.

Draco was lonely.

Being on your own – being the last of your kind – is not an easy thing to bear.

To pass the lonely hours he would sit in the Dracaena looking out across the ocean and wondering with a heavy heart of there was anything at all out there. Wondering if the entire universe was like his world – dry, covered by black rock and surrounded by an endless ocean.

Eventually, he drifted off into a deep sleep, and dreamed about lands where rivers flowed and fields grew with long grass waving in the wind.

How long a dragon sleeps, nobody knows – time is very different when you are a dragon.

A hundred years can seem like the blink of an eye… many centuries can slip by in a dragon’s moment. Sitting up there amongst the sword-shaped leaves the little dragon slept, invisible to all.

And so when the people arrived and the tree was dug up and carried onto a ship, Draco did not notice.

Off across the ocean the ship sailed. Day became night, night became day, the ship carried the Dracaena and the Dracaena carried the last little dragon toward a place neither knew existed.

Time passed until one day the little dragon woke up, stretched his wings and tool a look around. All he could see was ocean, endless and blue with white caps.

He looked and looked and all he could think was that his island had disappeared, his home and all he knew was gone. There was nothing else out there, only water you could not drink.

He was heartbroken. Now dragons don’t often cry, but that is what the little dragon did. He cried, and cried and cried. He cried so much that the Dracaena took pity on him.

The tree wrapped its branches around the little dragon and cradled him. The dragon continued to cry until the tears began to burn holes in the branches and trunk of the tree. But the tree did not let go.

At last, the little dragon could cry no more, he sobbed one last sob and went to sleep. But the tree did not let go – knowing that the little dragon could never go home, knowing that Draco was the last of his kind.

The tree then did a beautiful thing. It took the little dragon into itself where his spirit would be at one with the tree as long as the tree did live. And as it did, a wonderful thing happened.

From each of the holes made by the little dragon’s ruby red tears, a dragonfly appeared.

The tree had given the little dragon eyes to see wherever the dragonflies flew across our beautiful and rich land, Draco could dream happy dreams, and it had given us a reminder that far away and long , long ago the world was a very different place.

The last dragon

Other links

The a copy of the dragon maze can be found at: http://www.printactivities.com/Mazes/Shape_Mazes/Dragon-Maze.html

And the fairy maze at http://www.printactivities.com/Mazes/Shape_Mazes/fairy-godmother-maze.html