Planting For Fairies

Things have been busy around the garden lately, with the bulbs emerging from the ground and bursting forth with colorful blooms, seeds being sown in the greenhouse/sunroom, and mysterious nests being built in the shed. We have shamefully been neglecting the fairy garden. But a gentle reminder by way of this metal sculpture was given while shopping the newly arrived spring plants in our favorite Knoxville nursery, Dixie Lee. “Oh yes, the fairy garden!” we muttered as the statue was promptly put into the shopping basket along with a few plants. Here she sits on the soft cushion of moss in the gazebo we built. She is a little too large to fit on the bench, but we want to welcome wee folk of all sizes. She whispered to us in a dream that her name is Verna Birdfoot, and she is considered by most to be of a medium build, even a ‘cute size’, as her mother calls her.

Now that the weather has warmed some, appropriate fairy plants have been assembled around the gazebo area and its vicinity in the southeast corner of the property. It is shady and protected there, away from the house and garage, off the main path that winds its way from one end of the garden to the other, and somewhat secluded. Books were delved into, websites were explored, and the conclusion has been reached that any and all plants and trees have magical and mythical properties. You name it, there is lore surrounding it. That does seem logical, since the very act of a seed germinating is the most miraculous of happenings. There is magic everywhere, everyday, every second. So no matter what we plant, the fairies should find it pleasing in some respect. We happened to have already been growing this primula veris, the English cowslip, started from seed years ago. It is easily propagated by division and has been spread about the garden beds. This flower was mentioned in several references to be a favorite of the wee folk, the blooms often used as umbrellas. It has been rainy here lately, even snowy, so it seemed a good addition, planted very close to the gazebo opening for easy access should a surprise shower pop up.

One book suggested baskets of lichen be left about the area, for the fairy babies to have a comfy place in which to nap. In looking around the house for a little basket, this one was found. It is remembered that our youngest offspring, Brokenbeat created this small container as a child. Some gathered rosebuds and lavender found in a paper bowl used for potpourri inside, would make for a pleasant smelling slumber for young and old alike. A piece of lichen was added in keeping with the instructions.

The fairies are said to love the sweet faces of the violas, as do we. This self sown seedling was plucked from the knot garden to help in making the fairies feel welcome. Let’s call her Annabelle and wish her well.

Our local big box store had this miniature lamb’s ear, Silky Fleece, for sale. It seemed like a perfect addition to the fairy garden. Easily divided into several plants to fill the entrance area to the gazebo along the path, it is already growing nicely. That should make a soft footing for the fairies’ landing strip. We don’t want any stubbed fairy toes as they alight from their fanciful flights.

The tall pines nearby are a steady source of lichen encrusted branches. It was decided to place this likely limb next to the gazebo so the fairies could harvest what they wished to use themselves. We don’t want totally dependent wee folk, that is not our system here at Faire Garden. Self reliance is to be encouraged.

This idea began with the bundling of fallen birch twigs to be used for firewood. The row of river birches on the lower east side of the property line, seven in all, constantly drop leafless branches whenever the wind blows. Birch was another of the fairy favorites, being one of their nine magic trees. (More will be written about that in another story.) Honeysuckle was snipped, the leaves stripped off and it was used to bind the birch sticks into neat bundles. Fire can be fun, but can also be dangerous, so a fire pit was dug and lined with shale pieces for seating to allow for feet warming that is not too close to the flames. Let’s hope the younger fairies are supervised during their bonfires by responsible adults. We can keep the birch bundle stock well supplied.

Now we know that our fairies are the good kind here, and we have made every effort to be their friends, but tales abound of fairy mischief and dare it be uttered, even naughtiness. This plant, rue, is a potent protective herb, and will be an insurance policy against harm just in case there are some interloping ne’er do well fairies stopping by.

The long shot of the gazebo and surrounding area, don’t see it? Click on the photo and scroll down to the bottom of the photo for a closer look. The people path winds around to go under the new
arbor and the broken brick path is the slow lane for those who wish to study at leisure this land of little ones. There has been a conscious effort to have the proper plantings for optimum magical enjoyment in this little corner. The arbor will offer the humans an opportunity to absorb some delight from the world of wonder while the gazebo gives the same to our fine little friends.


More will be written about the legends and lore of the trees, shrubs and flowers favored by fairies in coming posts. For now you may learn about a Left Coast, Texas visiting fairy garden expert, by clicking here. To learn about some talented Indiana guest blogging fairies, click here.

Learning more all the time,


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45 Responses to Planting For Fairies

  1. garden girl says:

    What a lovely post Frances. The new fairy looks right at home in her magical surroundings.

  2. The Giraffe Head Tree says:

    How enchanting, Frances. Your fairy must be beside herself with the additions to her garden, and especially pleased with your thoughfulness regarding those interloping ne’er do well fairies. Can’t have those, now can we? Love this.

  3. Gail says:


    Charming, I love the fairy gazebo, your wee folk are very fortunate.


  4. Nancy J. Bond says:

    What an enchanted garden you’ve created. I can almost imagine the soft flutter of faire wings…

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, this is such a fun post. I was struck by seeing the picture of the “birdfoot” fairy. One of these came to our garden via the Indy flower and patio show. I will look forward to reading more about her adventures to see if our fairy has similar adventures.

  6. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    It’s great that you can use in the garden something made by one of your children. It’s very cute. The mini Lamb’s Ears is new to me. I can imagine all kinds of places to put that.

  7. Frances, says:

    Garden Girl, thanks, Linda. We hope Verna feels at ease here.

    Giraffe Head Tree, thanks. Verna wasn’t really worried about naughty fairies but we thought it best to have a little protective rue around anyway.

    gail, thanks. We try to please.

    Nancy J., Ah, you are a good listener!

    Lisa, I like the sound of this. Verna would love to hear the exploits of her Indiana relative. Do keep her posted. ;->

  8. Frances, says:

    MMD, even though brokenbeat is a married adult, we still have little trinkets that he and the other kids made. Some of the pottery projects may be finding a home out in the fairy area also, it seems right. Thanks for that thought.

  9. brokenbeat says:

    i can hear joanna newsome’s harp and fairyish voice playing as i read your post, soundtracking the story to supplement the pictures. it makes me think that the fairies need some music/musical instruments. perhaps they could use a tiny music box or fiddle out there, especially during fires?

  10. Di says:

    Allegory is so often lost and buried under the how to’s of gardening. I want to see more of this!

  11. GardenJoy4Me says:

    Now this is a softly quiet garden .. I love the moss .. a sprakling little brooke would be perfect here too .. I could sit in this garden for ages and just relax my mind ..
    Very pretty indeed !

  12. Sue Swift says:

    I usually hate statues in gardens, but I love your fairy. I hope lots of her friends and family make their homes with you. And if any of them get a hankering for foreign travel and city lights, please tell them there’s room on my balcony. I’ll look after them well, I promise.

  13. Frances, says:

    brokenbeat, yes, how about a harp? I shall get to work on it. Maybe they would like to have a variety from which to choose. Thanks for the idea. love.

    di, thanks and welcome. We’ll try and oblige.

    Joy, glad you like it. A water feature would be nice. Good idea.

    Sue, that is a generous offer, I’ll pass it along. Surely some of the fairies are world travelers and would enjoy some excitement in the big city.

  14. Brenda Kula says:

    I loved this post! Now I want a fairy garden myself. Love all the lore. I myself love herbs and have grown rue. I’ll come back and visit to see what you’re up to.

  15. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Frances, your fairy is precious as was your post. Very informative while full of whimsy.~~Dee

  16. Aaron Jewett says:

    Hello Francis,
    How are u doing? I just read your comment on air layering and I have some answers for you. Yews now is the time to start, when new growth begins. Temp. is a factor, you want fairly warm temp.’s to create heat inside the bag, this is another reason why the black bag is effective. I am also fairly new to this so I am not completely sure which trees will work but I am willing to bet that a large majority would work. Thank you for the kind words! I see you have my buddy Brandan from another yard in fort pierce on your blog list, how does that work? Thank you again and have a wonderful day!!

  17. Frances, says:

    Brenda Kula, thanks and welcome. There will be more on this topic so do check by again.

    Dee, thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Aaron Jewett, thanks and welcome. You’re on the list! Now I have to try to decide which tree to layer. Thanks for the pointers.

  18. Cinj says:

    Wow. Great post. Your fairy looks very comfy on that luscious bed of moss.

  19. Marie says:

    What alovely post! Beautiful photos!

  20. Frances, says:

    cinj, thanks, it is very cushy moss, I would like to lay on a bed on it!

    Marie, thanks for stopping by.

  21. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Oh how wonderful… it sounds as though your fairies are all set! And isn’t it wonderful when it looks good to both us and the wee folk as well? 🙂

  22. Sherry at the Zoo says:

    I love the enchantment of your posts and your garden pictures…I really need a fairie girl like that sitting by my little pond. It would be too adorable!

  23. Frances, says:

    Black Swamp Girl, thanks. Glad you like it, hope the fairies are pleased as well.

    Sherry, thanks. You do need one, everyone does.

  24. kate smudges says:

    I have a hunch you will be attracting many fairies to sit a spell and enjoy your bower. Your new statue is beautiful – I love the bird sitting on Verna Birdfoot’s foot. That is adorable. I could spend hours enjoying all the little details so thoughtfully tailored to your wee guests. It is beautiful

  25. Salix Tree says:

    What a wonderful post, I enjoyed it immensely! That is a magical little garden area for your faerie friends. I love the little basket, looks very inviting.
    I wish I could grow cowslip. I’ve tried a few times, but seeds don’t want to sprout for me.

  26. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    How charming to stumble upon this blog of yours today Frances. I see that you have spared no expensense nor effort to make your Faire garden as FF (Fairy Friendly) as you possible could.

    BTW love Verna Birdfoot, she is so pretty and has a lovely name as well. Wish I could sit beside her, that moss cushion looks so comfy.

  27. Frances, says:

    Kate, thanks for stopping by and noticing the details. It is fun to try and think of things the fairies might enjoy and lots of good ideas have been put forth in the comments, so there will be more posts to come.

    salixtree,good to see you again and thanks for the kind words. I can’t remember exactly how the cowslip was germinated, it was years ago when I was not as meticulous with the seed sowing. Several varieties of primroses were tried, most germinated by only these survived my fumbling treatment. Do try them again.

    YE, Thanks. Verna wishes you could visit with her also. As for sparing no expense, p-shaw!, what’s money for if not to attract fairies?

  28. joey says:

    You magically transported me to your enchanting garden, Frances. A delightful post …

  29. Frances, says:

    Joey, thanks and welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

  30. Inkspotz says:

    Frances – we have been reading about fairies and fairy gardens since the conversation started in our house yesterday about the ‘tooth fairy’. The pictures of your garden are inspiring. Luckily violas are easy to grow (and I read that they are ‘fun’ to grow too)! My daughter will love doing so. I don’t know if it is too late to start though. They are a late spring bloomer, right? Anyways, another site we visited, that has fairy collectables that are simply beautiful (, lead us to the word ‘harmony’ when describing fairies. When we look at your garden we see harmony.

    Gnomenculture here we come!

  31. Frances, says:

    Inkspotz, welcome and thanks for visiting. We are glad you enjoyed reading about the fairy garden. In New York, you would be seeing violas or pansies for sale now, I would think. Good luck with your gnomenculture.

  32. Inkspotz says:

    Thank you! We’ll look for them.

  33. Frances, says:

    Inkspotz, you are most welcome.

  34. Piondröm says:

    I shall not show Carina my wife your pick on the faire, she is just crazy about them, special the ones in “stones” for garden.
    She is on ebay in USA and try to bought some moulds so she can do her own.
    You faire is beautiful!
    Regards Ken

  35. Frances, says:

    Ken, thanks for stopping by. I think your wife would love to have a metal fairy like Verna, and you should get her one!

  36. Annie in Austin says:

    Frances, although I needed a consultant, you certainly do not require help. Perfecting a fairy garden seems to come so naturally to you that I suspect you’re part fairy yourself! Two of my grandcats were named from Joanna Newsome’s lyrics – she sure does have the voice of a sprite.

    Thank you for the suggestions on how to make the little folk comfortable, While finding a basket and dried flower petals is something I can do, our Texas fairies will have to live without some of their traditional flowers, which don’t grow well here. Maybe they’ll like passionvine, crinum lilies and silver pony’s foot.
    Musical instruments? Have to think about that one!

    One funny coincidence – I bought an extremely similar metal fairy from the Shoal Creek Nursery near Pam/Digging. This one is standing rather than sitting, in a smaller size so it could be mailed to the consultant. Maybe I should have bought 2 and kept one for myself…you’re having way too much fun with Verna Birdfoot!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  37. Frances, says:

    Dear Annie, always a pleasure to have your comments. Brokenbeat presented me with Ms. Newsome’s cd for Christmas and on first listening, it was an ack moment. But he persisted, sending me a you tube link so I could SEE her. What an epiphany! I love everything about her now. I think the fairies would like an assortment of instruments, reed, string, percussion, don’t you? There were so many fairy plants listed when it was researched, I am sure you already have plenty of them, I did, without knowing it!

  38. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    I think Verna Birdfoot looks very happy in your fairy garden, and who wouldn’t be happy there? You’ve thought of everything for them.

    This was a fun and very creative post.

  39. Ewa says:

    What a lovely post it is 🙂 I feel like coming back to my childhood. Even today it is better to believe in fairies than not 🙂

  40. Frances, says:

    Robin, thanks and glad you enjoyed this little bit of fun.

    Ewa, thanks, going back to our childhood is a noble travel, I agree!

  41. Carol says:

    Frances, What a wonderful post! One should always plant with the garden fairies in mind. Otherwise, they get quite mischievious. For mine, I have a miniature garden with miniature hostas and other shade loving plants. We can compare notes in Austin!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  42. Frances, says:

    Carol, thanks, miniature hostas would be an excellent addition to the fairies area. I think I have some Kabitan somewhere that can be added. Great idea! I need to buy a small notebook.

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