Photo: Tree Star Hollow is located within Spring Bluff Nursery in Sugar Grove. It offers fairy gardening, supplies and workshops. Linda Haas is the owner and has been fairy gardening for over 12 years. She is a professional landscape designer and artist. She is a former Master Gardener and has been part of the garden volunteers at Chicago’s Lurie Garden for the past 5 years. An outdoor fairy garden (left) with a house made from a stump. Photos by Patti Wilk
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—When it comes to her job description, Sugar Grove resident Linda Haas has the perfect line on tap.
“I am an artist. I make fairy furniture and fairy houses,” she said.
Indeed, Haas builds one-of-a-kind fairy houses and accessories at Tree Star Hollow, a boutique garden and artist studio she opened last March in a small, empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery, 41W130 Norris Road in Sugar Grove.
“I have met so many wonderful people since (last March). I have also made many new friends, and we even have a few regulars (at Tree Star Hollow),” Haas said. “At one of my workshops, I met a woman who showed me some fairy furniture her sister made almost 20 years ago. It inspired me to take on the challenge of making tiny fairy furniture from twigs and branches. It has been very successful. The furniture sells quicker than I can make it. I even started holding fairy furniture workshops.”
To make the houses, Haas spends hours searching for bark and other items from fallen and dead trees. She said the bark is best collected during the winter months to avoid ants and other insects living in it. She also looks for lichens and wild vines to embellish the houses. Back in her workshop, she can spend anywhere from two to four hours on a single house.
“When I make the fairy furniture I use branches from a supply I continuously collect and let age. The branches shrink a little as they age, so I avoid using fresh cuttings,” Haas said. “Due to the size of these pieces, I use tweezers to glue the branches together. It can take 1-2 hours to complete a piece of furniture.”
A self-proclaimed gardener for as long as she can remember, Haas’ earliest memories consist of dissecting weeds and searching high and low for bugs. The daughter of an artist, every home Haas lived in as a child had a studio overflowing with art supplies.
“It always smelled of oil paint; I was fortunate to be encouraged to also express my creative side at a young age,” she said.
Embracement of creativity is a gift Haas believes she passed down to her children.
“I encouraged them to play outside and use their imaginations. One of our daughters would make up stories about a Pixie Hollow that was in my garden,” Haas said. “She once took tiny pancakes out to the garden for the fairies. We then started to create small miniature gardens inside the landscape.”
Haas then started a new fairy garden under a very large Ash tree at Spring Bluff, where she was employed as a landscape designer at the time. The Ash tree is long gone now as a result of Emerald Ash Borers, but the stump remains, as does the fairy garden.
Haas soon stepped away from her landscape designer position in order to devote more time to crafting houses for her fairy garden. When her son moved away, she combined two rooms in her home to form an art studio.
“Having my own studio really opened the flood gates of creativity. I was out of control. I purchased my own tools and (built) fairy houses,” she said. “I was constantly dragging part of trees and shrubs into the studio (in the house). I was starting to hold workshops in my home to share this newly found creative outlet.”
It was last fall when Haas realized she was growing out of her studio space, and that’s how the empty building at Spring Bluff Nursery became home to her business. Haas said word of mouth in the community has been extremely helpful to Tree Star Hollow. Her business has even attracted some attention from those who live “across the pond.”
“We have a website (www.treestarhol-low.com). We get many requests for online purchasing, but each piece is handmade and one of a kind. It is not easy to sell online if you cannot mass produce your items,” she said. Last week, we had a request from as far away as London, England. A production company was looking for twig fairy furniture for a future jewelry ad.”
Tree Star Hollow is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Additionally, Tree Star Hollow will host a three-day “Fairy Festival” the weekend of July 27-29 at the store. A complete list of dates and times is listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. Haas said most of the festival’s activities are for children.
Workshops dates and times are listed on the Tree Star Hollow website. The studio is also available for walk-in and private small-group workshops.
For Haas, Tree Star Hollow is more than just a business—it’s a labor of love.
“The best part of my day is (when) I make people smile. Everyone who walks into the shop notices the large fairy garden outside our door and I can hear, “how cute is that!?” We have people of all ages at the workshops. The kids have a great time and are always extremely excited to build houses for the fairies.”