“Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a fairy hand in handÃ¢Â?Â¦”
From the poem The Stolen Child
– WB Yeats
There are vegetable gardens, flower gardens, herb gardens and within each variety of garden there are categories that go on as far as the eye can see to the horizon and back. A fairy garden lies somewhere between flower and herb gardens with tiny twists all it’s own. What kind of flowers and herbs would attract a fairy or a troop of fairies to your garden? Throw your inhibitions to the wind. To paraphrase Robert Herrick (1591-1674), gather ye flowers while ye may, it’s time to cultivate a garden in miniature and for at least a while be whimsical and childlike.
Look for a corner of your existing garden or make a small bed somewhere in your yard. It doesn’t have to be big, think diminutive. Herbs and most flowers need at least six hours of sun each day, so keep that in mind while deciding on a spot for the little garden. Herbs grow best in raised beds so you might consider using bricks, stones, or wood edging to define the space. Once you have your area defined and it’s going to get at least six hours of sun, you’re ready to fill it with topsoil. Draw a garden design out on paper showing where each plant will look it’s best. Complete the basics and let the fun begin.
Fairies are attracted to certain kinds of flowers and herbs. Use small or low growing plants keeping in mind scale and proportion. Following is a list of plants to get you started:
1.Fairy Rose – Start with a fairy rose. The dainty pink flowers last all through the growing season creating a lovely backdrop to the fairy garden. It’s a sturdy, disease resistant plant that can take some neglect and grows well in poor soil conditions. You might want to put up a small trellis or fence to support the rose.
2.Rosemary – Rosemary is a tender perennial depending on where you live. Think about putting out one large pot or several small pots of rosemary. Rosemary’s piney fragrance creates a marvelous centerpiece. There is a Sicilian legend that fairy babies slept in the flowers of rosemary.
3.Thyme – Thyme creeps between the cracks of old walks and become lush mounds of green wherever planted. The varieties of thyme are endless. In the fairy garden use the tiny creeping varieties for near rocks and edgings to create a carpet for your fairies to frolic on. You might consider making a border of thyme that surrounds the garden. The more upright varieties like Lemon thyme can be used toward the center of the garden.
4.Johnny Johnny-Ups – These delightful little sunny faced flowers are also called Heart’s Ease and are related to wild violets. These days they come in a palette of colors from deep purple like the old fashioned ones to the palest lavender to white. Scatter the plants all about for a wild effect, but expect them to spread and be in a different place each year as they tend to self-sow. Johnny Jump-Ups are well loved by fairies everywhere.
5.Pansies – A cousin to Johnny Jump-Ups, the pansy blooms in the cool weather of spring. It comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes these days. I would choose the older world looking pansies, as they tend to be smaller and paler in color.
6.Foxgloves – A biennial, meaning it blooms every other year, foxglove is so adored by the wee folk that they are called many names with a nod to fairies such as fairy cap, fairy fingers, and fairy thimbles. Most foxglove you see are purple, but if you can find the Mertonensis, an elegant strawberry pink with speckled throat, you’ll fall in love with it. Either color will look lovely with the pinks of the fairy roses and lavenders, whites and purples of the Johnny Jump-Ups or violets. Foxgloves are an invitation for fairies to come into your garden and they have been known to nestle within the foxglove blossoms to sleep and perchance to dream.
7. Coral Bells – Tiny pink blossoms dance suspended on stalks that wave in the breeze. This is another flower the fairies find attractive. A variety called Petite Pearl Fairy grows lower to the ground making it a whimsical addition to fairy gardens.
8.Primroses – Primroses grow low to the ground blooming in an array of color among a whorl of bright green leaves. I don’t suggest eating primrose, but it is said that if you do, you may be given the gift of sight so that you can see the fairies in your garden.
9.Violets – The dainty purple violets that dare to blanket a lawn in shaded areas are worth transplanting to the fairy garden. Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½Tis said the fairy queen treasures violets in a most sacred way.
10.Lavender – No garden should be without one of the most beautiful fragrances nature has to offer, lavender. A woody plant that grows upright with stems of purple blooms rising from gray green foliage lends grace to the land of fairy. Also called elf leaf, it’s magic will captivate both fairies and humans, alike. There are many varieties and it’s best to go to a nursery to touch, sniff, and decide which one best suits your needs.
11.Ferns – The drooping fronds of small ferns give fairies a secret place to withdraw from searching eyes. There is a story of a lady who sat upon a fern and was made to watch over a fairy child for a year and a day. Be aware of the needs of ferns. They require shade and to be kept moist, if you have a full sun garden you’ll have to experiment to find a fern that will stay beautiful throughout the growing season.
12.Bluebells – When a fairy hears the ringing of bluebells she wanders off to dance in the full moon light in a circle of fairy mystery. Bluebells tend to be tall, 18 inches, plant them toward the back of your garden among the fairy rose, and foxgloves. What a lovely floral painting the blooms will create.
These are just a few of the flowers and plants that can be used in fairy gardens. With a little research you may discover more, but this is a start. You may want to try transplanting some mosses. Fairies love the soft, cool spongy feel and they look enchanting next to the deep purple of so many of the flowers in a fairy garden. To make your tiny garden a village for the wee folk, create paths with tiny pebbles. You can purchases small fairy figurines and even fairy furniture to place in the garden. There is no end to what the imagination can conjure up. The key is to create a garden in miniature fit for fairies and for you to ponder the realm of magical ways.