Fairy Gardens

Even though I like to present myself as a self-confident, new technology embracing feminist, I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart.  Everything I do and occupy is messy and I tend to collect and save things.  So it should come as no surprise that my garden resembles a wild cottage garden and my art pieces inside and out are angels, fairies, and dragonflies.  I even have a fairy coloring book.  Without purposefully doing so, I have planted a great many plants that attract fairies according to lore.  From bluebells to violets, I have 20 out of the 32 plants on our fairy garden list.  It would be a higher percentage, but I have very little room for trees and I didn’t choose any of the one’s that fairies particularly like, except an apple.

When I began researching fairy gardens in the late winter for a blog relating to our Little Sprouts’ fairy garden class, I learned a lot about what fairies like.  There are any number of websites specifically about fairy gardens that you could check out.  A gardener wishing to attract fairies should leave a small corner or section of their garden wild or native. This retains a familiar environment for them. Fairies prefer organic gardens.  Anything that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds also attracts fairies.  My husband and I love to sit in the evenings and watch the hummingbirds sit on the bamboo leaves or the songbirds playing in mid air.  We’ve noticed a few butterflies around lately.  On Sunday, a butterfly was enjoying our supertunias.  Mitch got his camera out and took a few photos.  We are still in disagreement as to what kind it is.  Also, we have added fountains and birdbaths to our garden.  These definitely attract birds and bees, but they should attract fairies as well.  The next thing I need to add is a fairy house or a secret hiding place.  These should be built with natural materials.  This Saturday, Nicole is going to teach a Fairy Garden class for adults at 11 am.  (If you’re interested, call 541-753-6601 to pre-register) She taught the Little Sprouts’ class earlier this year and I got to see the dwelling she made for the fairies.  It was quite cute and not difficult to make.  It did take some time, though.  Nicole has created 3 miniature, outdoor fairy gardens that are on display and available for purchase.  Kathy created 3 miniature, indoor gardens also available.  Garland Nursery has accessories, like miniature furniture, arbors and bikes available too.

Back to fairy-attracting plants for your garden.  Mountain Ash, Oak, Ash, Hawthorn, Mulberry, Elder and Apple are all fairy favorites.  Fairies love to dance around Oaks, Ash and Hawthorns.  Plant the three together and legend says in this space it will be easier to see the fairies.  In the way of shrubs, fairies love Roses, Holly, Hazel and Lilacs.  The Hazel listed here is the Hazelnut or Filbert, one of our state’s largest crops!

Now to my favorite group of plants, the herbaceous perennials.  Foxglove is one of my favorites for its wild look, tall flowers and the fact that it springs up unexpectedly.  It is said that mischievious fairies gave the blossoms to foxes to protect them from getting caught when they raided the chicken coop.  Fairies ring Bluebells to gather their people.  The bluebell is a bulb that spreads rapidly.  Hollyhocks, especially pink, are a fairy favorite.  I like them because they are old-fashioned and tall.  Primroses, one of my favorite flowers, are believed to help in seeing fairies.  Thyme invites fairies to your garden, they hide their babies under the Thyme for safe-keeping.  Thyme is also quite tasty used in cooking.  Rosemary, another wonderful herb, is said to be another favorite hiding place for fairies and elves.  Based on the vigor of my Rosemary I can see why.  Sweet Woodruff is a prolific groundcover that grows great in the shade.  It is adorned with sweet-smelling white flowers in May.  It is used to make May wine.  Per lore, the white flowers reflect the light of the moon, illuminating fairy dances.  Lamb’s ears create a soft bed for fairies.  Their texture and silvery color adds to any garden.  Whenever I have given tours to children, I like to find the Lamb’s ear and let them pet the leaves.  So soft!  Lavender is a favorite additive to fairy food and drink.  It’s sweet smell and lovely flowers make it an asset in any garden.  Lily of the Valley is another old-fashioned, rampant flower.  It is said that fairies use the flower as a ladder to reach reeds in which they build their cradles.  Lobelia attracts winged fairies and Forget-me-nots protect humans from mischievous fae.  Poppies, one of my all time favorite flowers, bring fairies into your dreams.  Peonies, another old-fashioned flower, do the same.  Fuchsias attract hummingbirds, with whom the fairies often fly. Heather provides food for fairies and is said to contain a gateway to the fairy world.  My all-time favorite flower is the Fairy Queen’s favorite as well-the Violet.  Even though they spread everywhere, I cannot conceive of a garden without violets.  They seem to be somewhat out of favor at present.  I have a start of a double-flowered, particularly sweet-smelling variety.  It has survived the Sweet Woodruff, dogs lying on it, a move due to the first two, slugs and snails, and a mix-up with other more vigorous violets.  I believe it has survived and multiplied.  We will see if that is the case in the spring.  If not, I am not sure where I am to get another start.

Of course, there are many other plants with fairy in the name that must be fairy-loving plants.  Things like Fairy bells (Disporum), Fairy candles (Actaea acerina), and Fairy wings (Epimedium sp).

It is said that fairies like humans who take care of the earth by recycling, composting, and gardening organically.  Respect for nature and animals is appreciated as well.  Joy and laughter make the fairies welcome.  Although they do not like a mess, fairies rather like the informal, wild appearance of a yard rather than the formal, manicured look.  Why has fairy gardening become so popular recently?  Is it our attempt to connect with nature at a time when we are more separated than ever?  Our imagination, creativity and child-like curiosity are at play when we consider fairies and fairy gardens.  Our sense of the unseen world is provoked.  To laugh and play in a garden as well as appreciate all of nature around me is a great joy.  I hope it is for you as well.

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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