Storybrooke Gardens – click any image for full size
Lauren Bentham’s Storybrooke Gardens has long been a favourite of mine, particularly when it is dressed for winter (see here and here for more). With spring now upon us, Lauren has remade and expanded Storybrooke, so Caitlyn and I recently hopped over to have a look.
The new design means that there is now even more to see and enjoy, including part of the space retaining the snowy looks of the Gardens in winter – of which more anon. Winding past the landing point with its bright little tent, the familiar springtime trail still wind through the trees, lanterns hang from posts and branches, inviting visitors to follow. It meanders past little vignettes of charm and past cottages and houses available to rent, gathered here and there in little hamlet-like groups, sheep and deer grazing around them, foxes roaming nearby.
This is a place of story-time fancy, so don’t be surprised when you bump into some familiar characters as you explore – both indoors and out (although again, do please be aware some of the houses may be privately rented when considering venturing inside anywhere). Humpty Dumpty, for example sits (a little headless) alongside the trail at one point, while gingerbread men peep and wave around the base of a tree at another and little fae folk hover and play. Those who are regulars to Fantasy Faire may also recognise little touches from popular FF creators adding to the magic of this realm.
Opportunities for photographs lie around every corner and along every path; for those looking for romance and a place to share a cuddle or two will find much to please them here, both under the trees and up in tall towers of varying descriptions. Camp sites, benches, blankets, even a bicycle suspended beneath dozens of colourful balloons, offer places to rest and enjoy. And, as noted above, those seeking a last touch of winter also won’t be disappointed.
A short distance from the landing point is the entrance to A Winter’s Tale. This is a place where the snow lies heavy on the ground, frost wraps itself around bark and bough, and quaint little cottages, roofs laden under heavy white blankets, huddle close to the imposing bulk of a great castle. Above the two imposing guardians of the path leading up to the castle’s great doors, circles a magical boat held aloft by two translucent balloons, its deck offering a vantage point from which to observe the lands below.
Not far from the castle the single spire of a wizard’s tower points to the sky rises from the snowy landscape, a winding path curled around its rocky base leading to its front door. Children skate on the frozen pond at the foot of the tower, while reindeer keep an eye on all who climb the path to find out why lies inside.
Towers are very much a part of this landscape – both winter and spring – as are windmills. They variously rise above tree-tops or swing their sails lazily in the breeze, adding yet more story-time feel to the land. Beneath all of them, the local folk sit and read or play, wave greetings to passing visitors, and go about their own little tasks, adding a further depth to all the scenes to be found through the Gardens.
Lauren has always had a gift for expression with her region builds, but sitting in the sky (not always the easiest place to create something with a truly natural look and feel), Storybrooke Gardens is perhaps one of her most magical environments. One we were delighted to once again visit and explore.
- Storybrooke Gardens and A Winter’s Tale (Baja North, rated: Moderate)