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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Herbs For A Fairy Garden

Who doesn’t want to attract fairies to their garden? Of all the herbs associated with the little folk, the most important one is thyme, which I love. I’m forever planting more varieties of thyme. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania, the fairy queen, sleeps in a bed of wild thyme growing on a bank. Sure. Why not?

(Thyme in our garden)

Foxglove is also essential for a fairy garden. According to legend, fairies sleep in the bell-shaped flowers, and wear them as gloves. Which use they choose, probably depends upon the size of the fairy. Other common names for foxglove include fairy fingers, fairy thimbles, and fairy cap. However, I'm extremely challenged in growing foxglove in my farm garden(s). The plants soon figure out they're not in their native dappled woodlands.
 



Another favorite herb is saffron, also known as the saffron crocus, which bloom in the fall. Fairies are said to be especially fond of this culinary herb/spice used for flavoring cakes and dyeing cloth. Other recommended plants are fragrant rosemary and roses. Roses are much loved by fairies for their beauty and divine scent, and by me. And I am never without rosemary. I bring these essential herbs indoors in pots in late fall. They’re not exuberant about life in my sunspace but generally survive to glory again in summer. Wood anemones are beautiful plants preferred by fairies because the flowers close at the onset of bad weather and at night and offer the tiny beings a safe spot to rest or wait out the bad weather. I have some anemones, also called windflowers. These beauties grace the spring garden.

(Rosemary, Geraniums, and Lavender in my garden)

Not to neglect bluebells, also beloved by fairies. These beautiful blue flowers that carpet woodlands in spring are also known as harebell, Scottish bellflower, and fairies thimble. It was, and maybe still is, widely believed that fairies live among the flowers. Another name for bluebells is Dead Man's bells because fairies were thought to cast spells on those foolish enough to pick or damage the delicate blossoms.

When meandering through drifts of bluebells, it’s wise to stick to the path, or you may stir up the wrath of fairies and release the spells trapped in the blooms. Never a good idea, and one that would be echoed by our resident fairy expert, my 12-year-old niece, Cailin, who warns never step into a circle of flowers or go anywhere without the fairies' permission, or they will get very upset. And you do not want an upset fairy, or fairies, on your hands. Particularly the furious wind fairies, but that’s another story.

(Virginia bluebells and narcissus in my garden) 

A dear author friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable about fairies says they love many kinds of herbs and flowers. She has spotted some tiny ones in photographs of my garden. I’ve read they are drawn to the same plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Keep watch, you never know where they may be.

If you're interested in learning more about herbs and herbal lore, you may enjoy my book, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Islesavailable in print and kindle with lovely images at: https://www.amazon.com/Plants-Medieval-Garden-British-Isles/dp/1496111494


Blurb: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

For more on me visit my blog: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/

6 comments:

  1. I try to grow foxglove in my garden behind my house. Every spring, it pops up in a different place in the bed--or where those mischievious fairies have strewn the fall seeds.

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  2. At least it comes up somewhere. Mine used to.

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  3. I'd kill what the deer and gophers don't eat, but they are lovely!

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  4. Thanks MM. Our farm dog keeps most of the critters out of the gardens but we have coyotes up in the woods behind our farm.

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  5. Thyme never does well for me in the garden. So I tried it in a huge pot with rosemary, flatleaf parsley, and basil. The thyme still died out. Maybe it's just too hot and humid in Houston for it.

    Last weekend, I planted citronella for the first time to see how it would do. It's already grown a couple of inches. So I'm going to get another few bedding plants and put it in pots in the front courtyard. I love the idea of natural mosquito control. I'll let you know if it really does keep mosquitoes away from the doors.

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  6. Sounds hopeful, Joan. Thyme can be fussy or incredibly tolerant, just depends.

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