Back in 2015, Richmondmag featured several stories about the quirky and interesting facets of our great city. “Secret No. 8” as written by Tina Griego focused on the Fairy Village and Buffy and Binky, geese that may have had a lot of comments written about them throughout the years.
Jean McDaniel, “the Bird Lady of Church Hill” is a fixture in our neighborhood. A tough lady that is one of our most avid fans and fierce, but loving critics. She keeps us on our toes. She even wrote a really popular and funny post!
So what is the Fairy Village?
The Fairy Garden or Fairy Village is an elaborate, intricate place, spreading outward from the elm. The great house is made of paper mache and would blend into the bark, were it not for the faux-oxidized copper of the witch’s hat turrets. From its front door winds a path lined in silk flowers and on its grounds wander tiny dwarves and fairies and such. On most Saturdays, McDaniel brings out miniature ceramic tables laden with miniature ceramic breads and cakes and produce for the village farmers market. (Last year, my down-the-street colleague, Mark Holmberg, had a nice story on WTVR-CBS 6 about the Fairy Village and another “outlaw plantings” — outlaw because technically they exist upon city property.)
How was it born?
About this time, roughly five years ago, McDaniel’s friend Mary Ann Buffington was struck by ovarian cancer. The finches in flight, the rootedness of the tree and the sorrow of a too-far-gone illness striking a friend not yet 57 years old moved McDaniel. She took the houses she’d built with the guidance of her finches and placed them among the roots of the elm. So was born the Fairy Village – Hidden Richmond Secret No. 8. “I wanted them to look like they were growing out of the tree,” she says. “But they were never meant to be out in the weather, so they just fell apart. I put out the word to have people come by and leave positive thoughts for Mary Ann. Good karma. Good vibes. Let her know she was being thought about. She never saw it because she was in the hospital and she never left the hospital, but she knew it was there.”
Anyway, please read this story and check out the the Village on the corner of E. Grace and 28th Streets. If you’re all interested, we’ll go visit Jean and do an update to this story!