Poway’s Enchanted Garden with its mythical creatures opens for holiday tours

Fairies, brownies, gnomes, elves and hobbits live in the Enchanted Garden in Poway, and many of them have fanciful stories about their lives and livelihoods.

Those stories are usually told by their caretakers, Bejai and Dan Higgins, who host guided tours of the garden at their home at 13631 Rostrata Road. They also open the garden to the public three times a year on Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

The next scheduled open house will be noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Dan Higgins will dress as Santa Claus and pose for pictures with children while his wife tells tales of what the garden’s creatures are up to in their miniature homes, businesses and other buildings.

“I don’t have stories for every building because there are too many, but when we build something for the garden we think about who lives there, what jobs they take in the garden, who they’ll get along with and won’t get along with,” Bejai Higgins said. “I get bored easily so I have to keep something going.”

Fairies and sprites have many places to hide in the Enchanted Garden.

Fairies and sprites have many places to hide in the Enchanted Garden.

(Courtesy Bejai Higgins)

The idea for the whimsical garden sprouted from a fairy painted on the Higgins’ kitchen door. It was just another imaginative feature of their home, which is already decorated with a “Monopoly” board design on the bathroom floor, a “Clue” board on the kitchen floor, a whale’s tail on the ceiling and a tin man from the “Wizard of Oz” as decor.

One of Higgins’ grandchildren named the fairy Rootbeer. Soon Rootbeer needed a castle, Bejai Higgins said. Baby dragons who needed to hide from people appeared. As the dragons flew at night they would shed dragon scales that turned out to be money.

Rootbeer began to collect the money to add to her war chest, then used the funds to build a park, elementary school and a Fairy University with a library and housing for students and faculty, she said.

“She is a benefactress of the garden,” Higgins said. “She is quite well to do.”

Bejai and Dan Higgins’ Poway home is decked out with whimsical decorations during the Christmas holiday.

Bejai and Dan Higgins’ Poway home is decked out with whimsical decorations during the Christmas holiday.

(Courtesy Bejai Higgins)

The couple started building the garden when the pandemic hit in 2020. Higgins retired that year from assisting terminally ill teens while her husband retired from computer programming 16 years ago.

“We built Rootbeer’s castle first and from there it took off. It really experienced a housing boom,” she said.

Over time the Enchanted Garden became populated with inhabitants who needed a winery, pink polka-dotted hotel, city hall, a Gnomebucks Coffee shop and a ’50s diner. Inhabitants also have places to buy pet supplies, get a manicure and buy ice cream.

Tandy Bucklebottom, a hobbit, became mayor of the garden.

“She’s a lovely person,” Higgins said. “She’s a great chef and takes pride in baking pastries. She also does the garden’s day-to-day maintenance and runs the bank and records department.”

One of the stories Higgins tells visitors is about a Renaissance fair that was built when the elves were away at the North Pole. While the elves were industriously creating toys, a ragtag group of sprites with trailers and tents showed up in the Enchanted Garden. That led to a lot of traffic, noise and parking issues.

“When the elves returned they were so fractious about it the garden had to open a department in city hall for elf complaints,” Higgins said. “When the Renaissance fair closes at night the creatures that run the fair go back to their tents and mobile homes and build a communal fire out front and sing.

“So even after the Renaissance fair closes, the elves don’t get any peace and quiet. There’s a lot of discontent in the back corner of the garden.”

A decorative gnome watches over the Enchanted Garden.

A decorative gnome watches over the Enchanted Garden.

(Courtesy Bejai Higgins)

The Enchanted Garden is shrouded in mystery — its occupants prefer to stay out of sight. That lets visitors use their imagination about what the creatures look like, Higgins said.

“I tell them they will probably not see a fairy because they hide,” she said. “But if they look close they can see a wing or hear them fly away. One girl said, ‘I saw a fairy.’ One said, ‘I want to live here.’ It’s fun. If you can’t have fun what’s it all about?”

Enchanted Garden visitors use their imaginations while viewing miniature homes and figurines.

Enchanted Garden visitors use their imaginations while viewing miniature homes and figurines.

(Courtesy Bejai Higgins)

Even return visitors will be able to see something new because the garden is going through a transformation. An elf grandmother decided the garden looked too people-based, so they’re adding log structures to make it look more organic with lots of wood, moss and pine cone roofs, Higgins said.

“We’re trying to branch out and make it look like a woodland,” she said. “I’m interested to see people’s reactions.”

Although the garden is free to visit, the Higgins are asking that holiday guests bring a new, unwrapped toy that will be donated to a local domestic violence shelter. Visitors are asked to park on the street, but there is also handicap accessibility.

“I like seeing the kids’ faces,” Higgins said. “As they get into the garden, they get so excited.”

Colorful Christmas trees brighten holiday displays at the Enchanted Garden.

Colorful Christmas trees brighten holiday displays at the Enchanted Garden.

(Courtesy Bejai Higgins)

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